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The Hatter's Ghost (1982)

Les fantômes du chapelier (original title)
Labbé, a hatter in a French provincial town, leads the life of a respectable citizen but is in fact a serial murderer. The only person to suspect this is his neighbour Kachoudas, an ... See full summary »

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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Kachoudas
Monique Chaumette ...
Mme Labbé
...
Jeantet
Isabelle Sadoyan ...
Alice Kachoudas
Jean Champion ...
Le sénateur Laude
Bernard Dumaine ...
Arnoult
Victor Garrivier ...
Le docteur Chaudreau
Jean Leuvrais ...
Lambert
Christine Paolini ...
Louise Chapus
Robert Party ...
L'inspecteur Caille
Fabrice Ploquin ...
Valentin
Nathalie Hayat ...
Esther
Isabelle Lafon
Jean-Claude Bouillaud ...
Le père de Louise
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Storyline

Labbé, a hatter in a French provincial town, leads the life of a respectable citizen but is in fact a serial murderer. The only person to suspect this is his neighbour Kachoudas, an Armenian tailor. After the hatter kills his own wife, he then kills six of her friends to stop them visiting her and prepares to murder a seventh when the intended victim dies naturally. As a substitute, he murders the maid. At the same time, Kachoudas is dying and Labbé confesses his crime to him. Then, after getting drunk he visits his favourite prostitute Berthe and kills her too, being found there in the morning by the police. Written by Christian Herzog von Donat

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Release Date:

25 May 1982 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Hatter's Ghost  »

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Did You Know?

Quotes

[last lines]
Léon Labbé: [to voyeurs in Berthe's street] Don't touch me... Don't beat me... I'm giving in!
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Connections

References Carrefour (1938) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Murderous Michel Serrault cannot control his madness
19 July 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Les fantômes du chapelier" is a well-done film, worth watching. You cannot be sure where the story is going at any given time. It does have quite a few surprises along the way even though we learn fairly early that Michel Serrault is both mad and a serial killer. The story smoothly interjects some flashbacks. It's very clear that director Chabrol is in complete control of his medium and handles it precisely. This film stands on its own.

This is a quiet kind of film, with violence appearing only briefly but effectively. The setting is a quiet provincial town with narrow streets and shops. Michel Serrault is a hatter and across from him Charles Aznavour us a tailor. Everything seems placid on the surface, except for the most unusual circumstance that a serial killer is killing women. The police are clueless. Aznavour suspects Serrault, whom he follows. No one else suspects. He even finds a clipped out letter from a newspaper in Serrault's cuff, and such a letter was sent by the killer to taunt the police. But something holds Aznavour back from accusing Serrault to the police. He seems to be afraid that something will be revealed about his immigrant past from Armenia that he doesn't want to be known.

Serrault is mad, but he presents a normal appearance to his unnoticing bridge partners. He hates most women, especially if they are fat or even simply rounded. He hates their nagging and intrusiveness. He prefers the occasional company of the thin Aurore Clément, who sees a number of men and who understands men and handles them without being demanding and catering to their need for a compliant mistress. Ultimately, however, he cannot live with his secrets. He can't live surrounded by "stupid fools" who do not realize what he is doing. And he cannot live with his murderous rage, which expresses itself at times when he wrings his hands and when he acts out a strangulation in private.

Serrault's performance is excellent and looks to be what Chabrol wanted. His character is in almost every scene. He dominates the film. We get to know him and what he has done thoroughly. His wife became an invalid who railed at him constantly. He was suffocating. At some point, he cracked. He had no outlet, trapped in this town, this business, this routine and this marriage. Murderous emotion became his path to living. Once he went over the edge, he thought he could somehow return to normal morality. But this proved impossible. Nevertheless, the line between madness and sanity is shown to be perilously thin. It's so thin that he can suppress symptoms around others and they are not sharp enough to discern his case, except perhaps for Aznavour.


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