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This Man Must Die (1969)
"Que la bête meure" (original title)

GP  |   |  Thriller  |  20 October 1970 (USA)
8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 2,725 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 19 critic

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 »

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(novel), (dialogue), 3 more credits »
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Title: This Man Must Die (1969)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michel Duchaussoy ...
Caroline Cellier ...
...
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
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Storyline

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

Genres:

Thriller

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

20 October 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

This Man Must Die  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is based on a British novel of the 1930s written (under a pseudonym) by the poet C. Day Lewis, and is one of several novels by him to feature as its hero the brilliant amateur sleuth Nigel Strangeways. This adaptation, in addition to moving the action to modern-day France, entirely leaves out this leading character (or any new French character equivalent to him). See more »

Connections

Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Vier ernste Gesänge
Written by Johannes Brahms
Sung by Kathleen Ferrier
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A striking film, with a Highsmith flavor, and vintage Chabrol
12 June 2006 | by (Berkeley, California) – See all my reviews

This is one of the best Chabrol films I have seen. It's interesting to note that it's based upon a novel by Nicolas Blake, pen name of C. Day Lewis, at one time Poet Laureate of England and father of Daniel Day Lewis. From the movie, it seems Blake/Lewis was writing very much in the spirit of the great, and very cinematic, mistress of psychological crime writing, Patricia Highsmith. Though she never wrote anything exactly like this, the similarity is in the first-person narrative of a potential murderer, and in the way the story approaches an utterly evil person in an everyday upper-bourgeois setting; even the account of a man having an 'affair' with a woman he isn't necessarily attracted to is typically Highsmith; and there's attempted murder on a sailboat, and a man is almost bludgeoned on the head with a rock – Highsmith devices. The journal of the man contemplating murder, which is then found out, is something Highsmith might have liked.

Though as some have noted the narrator finds his way to the hit and run killer of his son a little too easily, the movie by allowing that is able to take us headlong into an astonishing, almost shocking situation. To get so close to evil -- this man who everybody hates, who would kill and cover it up and make his sister collaborate, who is abusive to everybody and everything, yet lives in bourgeois splendor, is so unusual it takes a while to realize how hair-raising it is.

Events move quickly after that. This is more understated than most of Chabrol and the greatest violence consists of a few slaps on the face of a lover or a boy, and words of abuse hurled by a boorish man and his nasty mother, but those moments are all the more disturbing for coming in such a buttoned-up world, and the action is very fast and economical compared to some of Chabrol's films. The scenes between the narrator and the boy Philippe where the boy says he wants his father dead and wishes Mark/Charles were his father, are very touching. The references to the rich variety of death descriptions in the Iliad are particularly resonant, as is the one at the end to Brahms quoting Hebrew scriptures, with the Brahms song sung by the great Kathleen Ferrier. The style may be neutral but the film is elegant and its look has not dated. The repugnant family scenes and the nightmarish dinners are typically Chabrol. The simplicity of the style is the more impressive seen in terms of possible followers like Ozon. They don't make them like this any more; they can't.

Michel Duchaussoy makes a good contrast to Yanne because he is so bland. He's an intentionally neutral figure whose moral status is meant to be ambiguous. Is he a hero out of Greek tragedy or is he just an escaping villain? Has he brought about justice -- has he even done it, since the son claims responsibility -- or has he merely been sucked into a whirlpool of evil? In the detective's office he finally begins to look for the first time like a sensitive writer. Before that he looked like a bland actor, but his opacity is just what Chabrol wants. Maybe he's one of Chabrol's most appealing heroes, but in the end what are we admiring?


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