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The Executioner (1963)

El verdugo (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Comedy | 17 February 1964 (Spain)
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.


(as Luis Gª. Berlanga)


(story) (as Luis Gª Berlanga), (story) | 3 more credits »

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4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
José Luis Rodríguez, el enterrador
Emma Penella ...
Carmen, la hija de Amadeo
José Isbert ...
Amadeo, el verdugo (as Jose Isbert)
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 ...
San Martín
Xan das Bolas ...
Guarda de la obra
José Orjas ...
Marqués (as Jose Orjas)
José María Prada ...
Funcionario de prisiones (as Jose Maria Prada)
Félix Fernández ...
Organista (as Felix Fernandez)
Funcionario de prisiones


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


Drama | Comedy


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

17 February 1964 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

Not on Your Life  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Italian censorship visa # 42151 delivered on 24-1-1964. See more »


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 »


Referenced in Los pornoaficionados (1982) See more »


El verdugo
Composed by Adolfo Waitzman
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User Reviews

Best Spanish movie ever
30 November 2001 | by (New York, NY, USA) – See all my reviews

I suppose the fact that this movie was made during the dictatorship of General Franco, when Spain did not register on any international cultural radars, accounts for the fact that it remains relatively unknown. In my opinion, this is not only the best film ever made by a Spanish director, but one of the best European films ever, and a masterpiece of dark comedy. It is a powerful indictment of the death penalty anywhere, and the scene in which proud and retiring executioner Amadeo sticks prospective son-in-law José Luis' fingers in the lamp fixture, thereby giving him a mild electric shock, remains an all-time classic ("You think that's bad? That's only 125 volts! The Americans are worse, with their electric chairs...")

This movie is stronger, deeper and funnier than any recent comedies by the likes of Pedro Almodóvar and other Berlanga-influenced Spanish directors, due to the bleaker political reality against which it was made. There is more directorial talent involved and the performances are stronger, with the glorious José Isbert stealing the show as always.

Times have improved in Spain, and filmmakers may have more freedom, but nothing as corrosive as this has been made since.

37 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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