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Chair de poule (1963)

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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 234 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 2 critic

A man plans a hold-up with a group of trusted fellows, he gets his hands on the money, and the girl - what could go wrong? Almost everything.



(novel), (adaptation), 2 more credits »
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Title: Chair de poule (1963)

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Complete credited cast:
Robert Hossein ...
Daniel Boisset
Jean Sorel ...
Paul Genest
Catherine Rouvel ...
Georges Wilson ...
Lucien Raimbourg ...
Nicole Berger ...
Jacques Bertrand ...
Jean-Jacques Delbo ...
Sophie Grimaldi ...
Jean Lefebvre ...
Priest (as Jean Lefevre)
Maurice Nasil
Armand Mestral ...
Le curé / Corenne


A man plans a hold-up with a group of trusted fellows, he gets his hands on the money, and the girl - what could go wrong? Almost everything.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama






Release Date:

13 November 1963 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Highway Pick-Up  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Sound System)
See  »

Did You Know?


Remade as The Dumb Die Fast, the Smart Die Slow (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

Ultra-cynical noir
4 February 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Even though every day, you may walk past countless hordes of folk, you may even interact with a huge number of people, often-times in this era, and definitely in my time and place, and in the movie, one's psychological community, the people you have substantial interaction with, is less than a handful of people, and in the end maybe you are simply alone. I think that's brought out by the location of Chair de poule, the "relais du col", an isolated service station high in the mountains. People pass through all the time, but they're customers, cruel and spoilt (I can testify to the bad behaviour of people passing through service stations, having worked at one during my university holidays). So the horde just want things from you, but here so do your "intimate" associates. Like many french crime films of the time, Touchez pas au Grisbi (1954), being an example, or actually all of Jacques Becker's great movies, the prospect of male friendship / solidarity is tantalisingly present and seen as far more fulfilling than romantic love. It's perhaps the only escape in a cruel world. The movie's beautiful scenes are when Daniel (Robert Hossein) and Thomas (Georges Wilson) meet on the col road. A particularly wonderful and wistful tune by Georges Delerue plays here. Later, when the crapola has contacted the proverbial rotary device, a trumpeter on a passing coach-trip is there to taunt Daniel, with another wistful tune, this time mockingly so. Duvivier's is a cruel eye.

I deliberately didn't start with the a plot outline, because it's the psychology, symbolism, and the atmosphere of the movie, rather than what's a rather generic plot that is what it's all about. The plot is, as has been pointed out, a simple noir one of ordinary people being tempted by crime, the middle section has elements of The Postman Always Rings Twice (overtly, and also covertly - there is commentary on where lust ends and love begins). Chair de poule does rise above cliché, and you can genuinely feel how stifled the two Parisian friends, Paul and Daniel are. How long can one stand in the cold? Women aren't perhaps as misogynistically portrayed as in many noir. Throughout the movie men are controllers of safes, from the initial mark, a rich man whose safe is up for robbing, and who therefore counts far more beautiful women as habitual accessories, to the proprietor of the relais du col, and Paul and Daniel, who hitherto worked in a safe-makers factory. It's a world defined by men, where every woman needs a man. Daniel's warm words about Thomas to his wife are instantly sneered at for being a, "man's opinion". Ultimately Maria (Catherine Rouvel) is a character that can be sympathised with, a character with a back story, neither an angel nor a harlot, but a woman. She is still with us and acting in movies at the time of writing! Her face at times in the movie reminded me of a cheetah's at points, she comes across as wild but snared in the world's man-trap.

Top marks for pure villainy go to Lucien Raimbourg as Roux, who had all the shameless rapacity of that great French character from Les Misérables, Thénardier.

Chair de poule is darkly satisfying.

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