18 user 19 critic

Rhinoceros (1974)

A boozing young man in love with his co-worker finds that everyone around him, even his pompous and condescending best friend, is changing into a rhinoceros.



(play) (as Eugene Ionesco), (screenplay)

On Disc

at Amazon


Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Crime | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

The younger brother of the consulting detective tries to steal Sherlock's glory by solving an important case assisted by an eccentric Scotland Yard detective and a lovely but suspicious actress.

Director: Gene Wilder
Stars: Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman
Certificate: M Comedy | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Two mismatched sets of identical twins, one aristocrat, one peasant, mistakenly exchange identities on the eve of the French Revolution.

Director: Bud Yorkin
Stars: Gene Wilder, Donald Sutherland, Hugh Griffith
Hanky Panky (1982)
Action | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Completely innocent man, Michael Jordon, is drawn into a web of government secrets when a girl carrying a mysterious package gets into a taxi with him. When she's later murdered, Michael becomes the chief suspect and goes on the run.

Director: Sidney Poitier
Stars: Gene Wilder, Gilda Radner, Kathleen Quinlan
Another You (1991)
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

George has been in a mental hospital for three years and is finally ready to go out into the real world again. Eddie Dash, a dedicated con man, is supposed to keep him out of trouble, but ... See full summary »

Director: Maurice Phillips
Stars: Richard Pryor, Gene Wilder, Mercedes Ruehl
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

In Dublin, a working class family has been unsuccessful in convincing their son to get a real job: the son prefers his job of scooping up horse's dung and selling it for flower gardens. An ... See full summary »

Director: Waris Hussein
Stars: Gene Wilder, Margot Kidder, Eileen Colgan
Thursday's Game (TV Movie 1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Harry Evers and Marvin Ellison have been playing poker Thursday nights with their friends for years. When a disagreement breaks up the game, they decide to continue meeting and doing ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Moore
Stars: Gene Wilder, Bob Newhart, Ellen Burstyn
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A neurotic baker travels to Hollywood to attend a talent search for an actor to rival the great Valentino. Although not an actor, through blind luck he succeeds, to a certain degree.

Director: Gene Wilder
Stars: Gene Wilder, Carol Kane, Dom DeLuise
Silver Streak (1976)
Action | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

On a long-distance train trip, a man finds romance but also finds himself in danger of being killed, or at least pushed off the train.

Director: Arthur Hiller
Stars: Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Jill Clayburgh
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

A sex comedy anthology containing four stories, each from a different country (England, France, the U.S., and Italy).

Directors: Bryan Forbes, Édouard Molinaro, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Roger Moore, Lino Ventura, Ugo Tognazzi
The Scarecrow (TV Movie 1972)
Drama | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Just before the Salem Witch Trials, an embittered old woman, who has learned witchcraft, teams up with the Devil, and brings a scarecrow to life as part of her diabolical revenge on the judge who was once her lover.

Director: Boris Sagal
Stars: Nina Foch, Norman Lloyd, Blythe Danner
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

When Duffy Bergman, a New York City cartoonist, meets Meg Lloyd, a gourmet chef, he discovers the love of his life and they marry, yet love alone isn't enough to make them happy. Meg ... See full summary »

Director: Leonard Nimoy
Stars: Gene Wilder, Christine Lahti, Mary Stuart Masterson
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An English teacher and struggling single mother has her life disrupted when the father who abandoned her as a child comes back into her life.

Director: Herbert Ross
Stars: Jason Robards, Marsha Mason, Donald Sutherland


Complete credited cast:
Robert Weil ...
Mrs. Bingham
Mr. Nicholson
Robert Fields ...
Young Man
Melody Santangello ...
Young Woman (as Melody Santangelo)
Howard Morton ...
Manuel Aviles ...
Lady with Cat
Restaurant Owner


Originally an absurdist play by Eugene Ionesco, Rhinoceros tells the story of a French town plagued by rhinoceroses. These are not ordinary rhinoceroses, but people who have been victims of "rhinoceritis." Or is it something else entirely? But, why are they turning into rhinoceroses and what is Ionesco trying to tell us about society? Written by Jeff Schoner <zek@primenet.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The comedy that proves people are still the funniest animals. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

21 January 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros  »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Zero Mostel won the 1961 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for "Rhinoceros" as John, and re-created his role in this filmed production. See more »


Stanley: I hate the taste of alcohol, but if I don't drink, I feel awful.
See more »


Version of Næsehornet (1972) See more »


What Did You Do To Yourself
Music by Galt MacDermot
Lyrics by Bill Dumaresq
Sung by David Lasley
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

An absurd film from a "Theatre-Of-The-Absurd" play.
19 April 2005 | by See all my reviews

The Theatre-Of-The-Absurd was a style of experimental play-scripting that was practised in the '50s and '60s by playwrights like Samuel Beckett, Arthur Adamov, Jean Genet and Eugene Ionesco. When first devised, the Theatre-Of-The-Absurd movement was rather unpopular because audiences were left bewildered by the intentionally illogical and plot less story lines. A particular rule of absurdist plays is that they have no dramatic conflict, instead dealing with logically impossible situations and having the characters speak about irrational things as if they are perfectly rational. Also, the main character in an absurdist play is usually significantly out of key with everyone and everything around him. Eugene Ionesco's "Rhinoceros" is one of the most famous of all the absurd plays. This film version is set in urban America and is a deliberately subversive, surreal experience with strong comic performances. It is not, however, as multi-layered as the original play (which was set in France and had strong political and historical connotations about the Nazi occupation). This presentation of Rhinoceros is mainly a story about conformity and, in particular, those rare few who refuse to conform.

Depressed, bored accountant Stanley (Gene Wilder) spends his week-days crunching numbers and his weekends drinking himself into a haze. His friend John (Zero Mostel) disapproves, but still meets Stanley every Sunday lunchtime to talk to him about the error of his ways. One particular Sunday, their lunch is interrupted when a stampeding rhinoceros charges down the street outside the restaurant. Soon, more and more rhinoceroses are sighted in town and Stanley gradually begins to realise that the entire population is turning into these huge pachyderms. More alarming still is that everyone that Stanley counts on to "remain" human seems to be switching to rhinoceros form too - his work colleagues (Joe Silver, Robert Weil, Percy Rodriguez), his dream girl Daisy (Karen Black), and even his best friend John. Stanley is determined not to conform, but as the human numbers dwindle and the rhinoceros population soars, will he be able to resist?

One of the main problems with this film version of Rhinoceros is that it doesn't use the possibilities of film to "open-up" the constraints of its stage-bound play origins. For instance, during the scene where Mostel's character transforms into a rhinoceros, Wilder keeps commenting on the bump appearing on his forehead and the greyness of his skin, but there's no bump or greyness visible. Here was an opportunity to use the visual advantages that film has over the theatre stage, but it remains an unused opportunity. In fact, at all points the film refuses to become cinematic and constantly has a feel of "filmed theatre" about it. However, in other ways Rhinoceros is quite well done and credit needs to be given where it is due (Maltin rated this film BOMB, which shows how wide of the mark Maltin is prone to be). Wilder and Mostel interact brilliantly, relishing the play's enigmatic and often self-contradictory dialogue. Mostel's transformation sequence - done without make-up or visual effects, as noted earlier - is almost compensated by the sheer outrageous energy that Mostel invests in it. And, by removing the historical and political subtext of the original play, I think they've actually made it more timeless by focusing more on the themes of conformity (after all, don't we all relate to how it feels to spend our lives conforming, losing more and more of the animal-like freedom that was a characteristic of primitive man?) Transforming into a rhinoceros could be viewed as a metaphor for any type of conformity - doing drugs because all your peers do them; being promiscuous because it's the norm; voting for a particular political party because everyone else on your street is in favour of that party; etc.

Not a complete success, then, but definitely a worthwhile and thought-provoking piece of cinema.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 18 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page