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The Scapegoat (1959)

Unrated | | Crime, Mystery, Thriller | 6 August 1959 (USA)
An English schoolteacher meets his lookalike, a French count; and unwillingly swaps identities with him.



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
John Barratt / Jacques De Gue
Irene Worth ...
Pamela Brown ...
Annabel Bartlett ...
Geoffrey Keen ...
Noel Howlett ...
Dr. Aloin
Leslie French ...
Alan Webb ...
Maria Britneva ...
Eddie Byrne ...
Alexander Archdale ...
Customs Official


On a vacation in France from his nondescript job and life, John Barratt encounters a titled but impoverished French nobleman who looks exactly like him. The nobleman gets John drunk, and switches places with him to take a breather from his failing business and too-complicated life. John tries to convince everyone he is not who they think he is, but he begins to get more and more involved with the count's family, including an unhappy wife, domineering mother, lonely but talented young daughter, bitter spinster sister and the expected mistress. As John gets to know them he feels he can help them with their problems, but is also becoming used to his borrowed life, which has given him a purpose for the first time. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He took another man's name... lived another man's life... loved another man's woman! See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

6 August 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Sündenbock  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$943,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies, the original choice for Barratt / De Gué was Cary Grant, but Daphne Du Maurier insisted on Alec Guinness because he reminded her of her father, actor Gerald du Maurier. See more »


The position of the bottle of wine on the table and the amount of wine in the glass changes between shots when John Barratt and Jacques De Gue are talking after they first meet. See more »


[first lines]
Customs Official: You have the intention of staying long in France, Mr. Barratt?
John Barratt: I don't know. That is to say that I didn't know there was any restriction apart from the question of money.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown over various images of the book by Daphne DuMaurier. See more »


Remade as The Scapegoat (2012) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A well acted mystery about having another chance at a "new" life.
9 May 1999 | by (Mesa, AZ) – See all my reviews

I was lucky enough to see this movie during a TCM Bette Davis Marathon. Although her part is relatively small, I was thrilled to see Sir Alec Guinness in a very unusual story. He encounters a man that is for all purposes identical to him. They drink, go to his apartment, and in the morning one is gone leaving the other one to fill in his shoes at home. At first of course he protests- saying he is John Barrat. But the Count has made sure that no one will listen by telegraphing his doctor that he's been having delusions that he's someone else. Being a man that really had no one that cared about him to begin with, he decides to go on with the charade. The plot thickens from there on. Good story & a fine supporting cast make this an interesting murder mystery. Enjoy it if you can find it. (TCM is short for Turner Classic Movies cable station.) It is worth note that this story is by the same author of Hitchcock's Rebecca- another murder mystery worth viewing & much easier to find.

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