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The Executioner (1963)
"El verdugo" (original title)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 2,625 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 6 critic

An undertaker gets married to an old executioner's daughter and, although he doesn't like it, must continue the profession of his father-in-law after his retirement.

Director:

(as Luis Gª. Berlanga)

Writers:

(story), , 2 more credits »
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Title: The Executioner (1963)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Nino Manfredi ...
José Luis Rodríguez, el enterrador
Emma Penella ...
Carmen, la hija de Amadeo
José Isbert ...
Amadeo, el verdugo (as Jose Isbert)
José Luis López Vázquez ...
Antonio Rodríguez, el hermano mayor de José Luis (as Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez)
Ángel Álvarez ...
Álvarez, el enterrador (as Angel Alvarez)
Guido Alberti ...
Director de la prisión
Julia Caba Alba ...
Mujer visitante de la obra nº 2
María Luisa Ponte ...
Estefanía (as Maria Luisa Ponte)
María Isbert ...
Ignacia (as Maria Isbert)
Erasmo Pascual
Xan das Bolas ...
Guarda de la obra
José Orjas ...
Marqués testigo de la ejecución (as Jose Orjas)
José María Prada ...
Funcionario de prisiones (as Jose Maria Prada)
Félix Fernández ...
Monaguillo nº 2 (as Felix Fernandez)
Antonio Ferrandis
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Storyline

The history starts with the main character (an old executioner in the Spain of early 60's) approaching retirement age. As his profession is not exactly what you could call "popular", he (a very gentle and nice man, caring, and proud of traditions) begins to worry about who might take his place when he retires. He has a daughter, but, unfortunately, she seems doomed to perpetual "spinsterhood": as soon as any prospective groom learns about her dad and her dad's "trade", he runs away from her, scared. A sad life... However, a new character enters: the local undertaker, a handsome and young man who has exactly the same problem... No girl wants him given his profession. So, you have the woman whom almost nobody would marry and the man whom almost nobody would marry. Obviously, they are meant for each other. But here the old executioner has something to say: He does not object to her daughter marrying the young undertaker; he seems a decent man, and all that... But there is a condition: ... Written by Jose Beltran <pepe@prince.pe.u-tokyo.ac.jp>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

17 February 1964 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

El verdugo  »

Box Office

Gross:

ESP 4,107,300 (Spain)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Voted second best Spanish film by professionals and critics in 1996 Spanish cinema centenary. See more »

Quotes

Amadeo, el verdugo: [subtitled version] You think that's bad? That's only 125 volts! The Americans are worse, with their electric chairs...
See more »

Connections

Featured in Berlanga, plano personal (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

El verdugo
(twist)
Composed by Adolfo Waitzman
See more »

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User Reviews

 
This is both one of the funniest and one of the saddest movies I have ever seen
8 November 1999 | by (Barcelona, Spain) – See all my reviews



It is often true that the best comedies are those which hide (or should I say show) terrible pathos and anguish beneath their comic skin. Billy Wilder, for example, has often been praised for his mastery of this art, in films such as The Apartment and The Fortune Cookie.

So has Berlanga, who is undisputedly the gratest comedy writer/director in Spanish film history, and one of the best of Europe. And his masterpiece, El Verdugo, is such an awesome tour de force of his talents that it never ceases to amaze, even after repeated viewings.

El Verdugo is a comedy, yet it is probably the most moving and powerful anti-death penalty story ever written. It achieves this by showing the act of killing a person as what it is, such an unnatural and repulsive thing that for most of us it would be impossible to perform. And, as an executioner, that is exactly the role that Jose Luis (Nino Manfredi) sees himself thrown into. The situation is seen by Berlanga not only as dramatic, but also absurd, and all of Jose's antics and ploys to avoid ever having to do his job are also so absurd that they are comical, and very much so. But the viewer also simpathizes with him because we instantly understand the horror of his situation, the dreadful Damocles' sword that hangs over his head. Both the comedy and the drama go hand in hand right until the devastating ending of the film, one of the most memorable and tragic scenes ever comitted to celluloid.

Giving it a 10 out of 10 still seems short to me. PLEASE see this film if you can, you will never forget it.


21 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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