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The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969)

Nice, eccentric, idealistic and slightly mad Countess Aurelia, who believes that the good must prevail over evil, decides to stand up to corrupt powerful leaders of Paris in her own way, which grabs everyones attention.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
The General
The Commissar
The Chairman
The Prospector
Joellina Smadja ...
Prospector's girlfriend
Henri Virlojeux ...
The Peddler
The Reverend
Gordon Heath ...
The Folk Singer
Nanette Newman ...
George Hilsdon ...
Henri Cogan ...
Gerald Sim ...


Life is a Sunday in the park for Aurelia, a dotty Parisian countess. But sooner or later, Aurelia had to find out about the so-called sane world. Join her in a whimsical look at a topsy-turvy world...and at a handful of kooks crazy enough to care. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


With the world getting ready to blow itself up, look who's minding the store.


Comedy | Drama


G | See all certifications »





Release Date:

30 October 1969 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

La loca de Chaillot  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In 1964, Norman Jewison was announced as director. See more »


The Ragpicker: Countess if only you knew... Shall we tell her?... Nothing Countess, it's you that are hiding. You see, there was a time when old clothes were as good as new. In fact they were better because when people wore clothes they gave something to them. But that was a long time ago, Countess. Just as, there was a time when... when garbage was a pleasure. Oh, it smelled a little strange or seemed confused, that's because there was everything there. The smell of sardine, of iodine, cologone, roses. An ...
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Version of Die Irre von Chaillot (1960) See more »

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User Reviews

Even More Out Of Place With The Passing Years
23 November 2011 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Jean Giraudoux who wrote The Madwoman Of Chaillot became a prominent French writer in the years between the two World Wars and died in 1944 a year before this play made its debut on the French stage. Those who were occupying France at the time Giroudoux died would not have wanted this item shown to be sure as it is an indictment against the greed and thoughtlessness of the modern age and the ruthless people in positions of power.

Katharine Hepburn plays the title role, a picturesque old woman who dresses in pre-World War I fashion as an outward manifestation of her rejection of the modern age. She would have looked out of place in 1944, in 1969 she and her fellow senior citizen rebels Edith Evans and Margaret Leighton look even more so. Right at the beginning of the film the age is established for us showing the student protests that rocked France in the late Sixties and we see Kate her best 1913 fashion just gliding through it all.

While she rejects the changing times, some power people who you would not think of at first as allies are meeting at a Paris café plotting to really upset her world in a way she can't escape from. Charles Boyer, Oscar Homolka, Donald Pleasance, Paul Henreid, John Gavin, and Yul Brynner who seems to be taking the lead in the group have discovered that Paris is sitting on a bed of shale with oil deposits that would rival the Middle East as a source. That would certainly make France a power to be reckoned with. In fact Paul Henreid who is a French general makes note of the fact that France has gone its own way politically which at the time Charles DeGaulle was doing, separating himself from America and that accursed island nation Great Britain.

Of course the site of oil derricks in and around those colorful parts of Paris that have their own legend separate and apart from the city as a whole is something that Kate can't permit. The scheme is brought to her attention by a number of the citizens who have overheard bits and pieces at the café and were shooed away. Yul Brynner took an especial delight in doing this.

Hepburn and her fellow mad women formulate a plan and try these people in abstentia. Parisian street character Danny Kaye, the ragpicker who is as far down the economic scale from the conspirators as you can get offers a great defense for them as lawyers do for their clients, but it's a done deal. And she's got an interesting fate in store for them.

When The Madwoman Of Chaillot made it to Broadway in 1949-50 and won a Tony Award for Martita Hunt playing the title role, theater goers then knew of the great Kettleman Hills oil strike which was close to Los Angeles city limits. There are still parts of the area where you can see functioning oil derricks even today. The image of a gusher coming out of a derrick next to Notre Dame or the Arc De Triomphe was really in the minds of theatergoers back then.

Hepburn does well in the part showing that maybe The Madwoman Of Chaillot and her mad friends really have a lot more sense than we might give them credit for. They may have rejected the 20th Century, but they rejected the mass wars that characterized it and the all consuming quest for domination and profits above all. There's still beauty in Kate's world and she'll fight to preserve it.

The Madwoman Of Chaillot might be a bit quirky for some tastes, but Katharine Hepburn's fans will love it.

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