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The Executioner (1963)

El verdugo (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Comedy | 13 March 1964 (Italy)
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) (as Luis Gª Berlanga), (story) | 3 more credits »
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4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Carmen, la hija de Amadeo
...
Amadeo, el verdugo (as Jose Isbert)
...
...
Álvarez, el enterrador (as Angel Alvarez)
Guido Alberti ...
Director de la prisión
...
Mujer visitante de la obra nº 2
...
Estefanía (as Maria Luisa Ponte)
...
Ignacia (as Maria Isbert)
...
San Martín
...
Guarda de la obra
...
Marqués (as Jose Orjas)
...
Vigilante con botella de champán (as Jose Maria Prada)
...
Organista (as Felix Fernandez)
...
Funcionario de prisiones
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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:

13 March 1964 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

The Executioner  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

José Luis López Vázques improvised the moment when measuring the child's head. See more »

Quotes

Woman in the book fair: [subtitled version] Have you got something about Bergman or Antonioni...?
Sr. Corcuera, el académico: Bergman... Bergman?
Woman in the book fair: Yes.
Sr. Corcuera, el académico: The actress...?
Woman in the book fair: No, no, it's not the actress...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Los pornoaficionados (1982) 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 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.


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