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This Man Must Die (1969)

Que la bête meure (original title)
GP | | Thriller | 20 October 1970 (USA)
Single father obsessed with murdering the hit&run driver who killed his only child, poses as a screenwriter to get close to an actress who was in the death car. He feels fully prepared to ... See full summary »



(novel), (dialogue) | 3 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michel Duchaussoy ...
Anouk Ferjac ...
Marc Di Napoli ...
Louise Chevalier ...
Madame Levenes
Guy Marly ...
Lorraine Rainer ...
Dominique Zardi ...
Le premier inspecteur
Stéphane Di Napoli ...
Raymone ...
Michel Charrel ...
Le ferrailleur
France Girard
Bernard Papineau ...
Le policier
Robert Rondo ...
Le garagiste


Single father obsessed with murdering the hit&run driver who killed his only child, poses as a screenwriter to get close to an actress who was in the death car. He feels fully prepared to kill the pretty young woman if she was the driver, but as his knowledge of her family grows, so does his empathy for them. Written by David Stevens

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


I don't know who he is or what he looks like or where he lives. But I am going to find him...and kill him. See more »




GP | See all certifications »





Release Date:

20 October 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

This Man Must Die  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Paul's wife talks to Charles about the "Nouveau Roman", she mentions several writers, including Paul Gégauff, who is credited in this movie for the screenplay and dialogue. See more »


Referenced in The Beast Must Die (1974) See more »


Vier ernste Gesänge
Written by Johannes Brahms
Sung by Kathleen Ferrier (as Katleen Ferrier)
See more »

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User Reviews

Tight and well executed thriller; a quite stupendous character study effective in its carving through of some pretty raw territory.
22 January 2011 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

When we head into Claude Chabrol's 1969 French revenge thriller The Beast Must Die and observe, within the opening scene, the young son of man Charles Thenier tragically struck down by a driver going far too fast in his sports car; we assume the labelling of the titular 'beast' to be of the sort that sees the film's lead attribute the particular tag to him because of what he's done. In a blind rage, this mysterious and unknown killer whom is not brought to justice has, we presume, to have been formulated as a kind of deathly; monstrous and animal-like persona by that of the grieving Charles as he embarks on his quest for revenge. What later transpires is, in fact, that the titular beast is close to all but as literal to the title and was not merely a representative word for the sort of mythical image the lead had formulated within his own mind. This, in itself, brings about further complications and more studious nuances the film might not have had when it comes to resonate later in the story. It is one of a number of clever twists and engaging turns director Chabrol implants onto us throughout his mediation on vengeance and the grieving process, Que la Bête Meure coming to represent a really finely crafted thriller-come-mediative piece on the thirst for blood in order to bring about parity.

Michel Duchaussoy plays Charles, the film beginning on his small boy playing alone on an empty beach before leaving for some stone steps which lead up to ground level. Tragically, ground level is public road level and a sports car harbouring the titular beast, as well as a young woman later transpiring to be Caroline Cellier's actress named Helene Lanson, knocks Master Thenier down to the tune of a funeral-like orchestral score amidst an empty street and a pretty desolate looking coastal town. Nobody saw the act, nobody can help and the police seem disinterested at the best of times; all the ingredients Charles needs to move off into an incarnate scociopathic rage leading to the taking of the law into his own hands. The first half of brooding menace as Charles struggles with the reality of the situation is really well captured by Chabrol, grief and anger combining into a dangerous cocktail as our lead narrates to us what it is he'll do if he comes face to face with the killer by making notes in a diary providing us with a measure of the hatred and resentment. On another occasion, small nuances such as the entering of a room and recognising that a glass cabinet needs repairing and it's probably the first time he's noticed this since 'the event' offer simplistic but stark insights into a frustrated and grieving mind as he little things just seem to resonate more and bother him.

Charles' operating outside of the law leads him to solve things and deduce things the police otherwise do not, a journeying through the countryside leads to the getting stuck in a patch of mud on the road which, in turn, propels him towards the woman whom was in the car that fateful day. When he eventually catches up with Helene, the thrill of the chase beginning to mutate into the joy of the kill appearing to rear itself within Charles as that promise seemingly nears; something Chabrol catches with a certain amount of guile during Charles' use of a faked name and his narration highlighting to us how much he detests Helene despite the on screen action being of a polar opposite in its politeness and friendliness. Chabrol places a chess set within Helene's place of dwelling after Charles has effectively enough seduced her into thinking he's rather-a fan of her work; drinks and socialising lead on to certain bonds, the waking up in the morning after a night together seeing the chess pieces in this indelible game of cat-and-mouse the lead has going on with everyone now scattered and confused, nicely echoing the overall situation regarding Charles' stance as a scattered new order makes itself known, and the love-making to the woman beside the driver of the car which killed his son causing this.

The new order sees Charles garner further access to the prospect of carrying out his mouth-watering denouement; the titular beast none other than a certain Paul Decourt, played by Jean Yanne, a man with a large family and stately house on the coast in which he rules with rather-a hateful fist of iron. The building up to Decourt's big reveal sees Charles first having to interact with his extensive family, the destroying of one man seemingly the symptomatic destroying of all of this large-scale family unit consisting of rather nice and rather intelligent people. Chabrol dangerously, even agonisingly, tempts us to side with the lead and will him on to kill Decourt; his attitudes and the way he treats these people sitting around the table positively shocking, the sense that they themselves have wished for some while that harm might come to him clearly present.

The film is sharp enough to refrain from rendering Decourt the greater extent or larger representation of anything more sordid; it is not as if the lead is suddenly fighting a extensive portrayal of evil in the form of child pornography rings; corrupt police officials or domestic abusers as seen in other such revenge thrillers including 1971's Get Carter or 1999's Payback. Rather, Decourt remains grounded; the biggest crime he is guilty of outside of the hit-and-run is oafishness, but that is never a crime punishable by death. Instead, Chabrol's film darts along at its own studious pace, a later study in duality between Dacourt's son Phillippe (Di Napoli) as the male child Charles no longer has and Charles as the father Phillippe should have had growing up given ample attention. The film is a rather unnerving, but humanely played, revenge thriller rich in substance and certainly worth checking out.

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