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Deadly Circuit (1983)
"Mortelle randonnée" (original title)

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Beauvoir, lonely, aging private detective, is put on the bloody track of beautiful Catherine Leiris who kills and robs her rich husband(s) on their wedding night. Although he never ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michel Serrault ...
Catherine Leiris / Lucie Brentano - 'Marie'
Guy Marchand ...
L'homme pâle / The pale man
The grey lady
Macha Méril ...
Mme Schmidt-Boulanger
Sami Frey ...
Ralph Forbes
Dominique Frot ...
Michel de Meyerganz
Isabelle Ho ...
Cora Palenbrg
François Bernheim ...
Gilberte Lauvray ...
La curiste
Michel Such ...
L'homme à l'attaché case / The fat man
Paul Anrieu


Beauvoir, lonely, aging private detective, is put on the bloody track of beautiful Catherine Leiris who kills and robs her rich husband(s) on their wedding night. Although he never approaches her directly, he follows her and increasingly feels to be telepathically connected to her, because she reminds him of his daughter he never met. After he led a blind artist, Catherine's truly beloved spouse, into a bus accident, she makes a living by bank robbery with young Betty till Betty gets shot. Alone again, Catherine leads a sad, uneventful life as a waitress, when she meets her follower. Written by Knut Behrends <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

9 March 1983 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Deadly Circuit  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Features The Last Laugh (1924) See more »


Der Hirt auf dem Felsen
  • 12 Ländler op.171

Composed by Franz Schubert
Soprano Anne Forez
Piano Guy Printemps
Clarinette Maurice Gabai
See more »

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User Reviews

A Tragic Tale
16 March 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Although the DVD version of this which I saw recently had 24 minutes cut out of it, this film even in its truncated form still stands as a masterly work. Director Claude Miller (the French say 'Millaire') is a Grand Old Man of the French cinema, and this is one of his early films, when he was already making masterpieces. Two years later he made the unforgettable IMPUDENT GIRL with the teenaged Charlotte Gainsbourg. More recently, he has made the equally unforgettable UN SECRET (2007, see my review). Any Miller film is always going to be interesting, gripping, and disturbing, and this one is all of that and more. It is based on a novel by the American writer who settled in France, Marc Behm. The leading character is a real Mr. Anonymous, a loser detective played brilliantly by Michel Serrault, who is so ordinary-looking that nobody ever notices him. As he himself says in the film: 'I look like everybody.' His life was shattered twenty years earlier when his little girl died. His wife had left him four years before, taking the child away. He is haunted and obsessed by this double loss of the desertion and later the death of the child he was never even allowed to know, and his current life is entirely empty. When given a routine assignment to try to identify the girlfriend of a rich young man, when he encounters the girl, played with haunted intensity by Isabelle Adjani, something clicks. For much of the film we are led to believe that he thinks that she is his lost daughter, and only much later do we realize that he is merely pursuing her as a fantasy substitute, because he knows very well that his real daughter died as a child. When he realizes that Adjani is living on the edge of desperation just as he is, he feels a spiritual kinship with her. Very soon he realizes that she is a psychotic murderess, and has countless aliases. She compulsively kills and robs, barely stopping long enough to catch her breath between victims. Serrault follows her from country to country, watches her trysts through windows, even witnesses her disposing of a body, slitting a throat, and being a very bad girl indeed. But he feels compelled to protect her, because he knows that she is living as much in a mad fantasy as he himself is. He becomes emotionally and psychologically complicit in her crimes, and even disposes of one of the bodies for her. But he does not speak to her and she never notices him because he is such a nonentity. This is a strange tale of affiliation by osmosis, where two people who do not communicate nevertheless come to live a symbiotic existence, one oblivious and the other passionately devoted, as they travel continuously together from crime scene to crime scene. The film is immensely sad, not only as regards Serrault and the tragic hole in his existence, his personal néant ('nothingness'), but also the demented round of murder pursued by the girl, who is powerless to stop herself, who is in the grip of a compulsion which is equally a 'nothingness'. We must assume that Marc Behm came under the influence of Sartre and the existentialists, as all this 'nothingness' was what they all wrote about the whole time. The existentialists were always such a pain that I am delighted that they have all sunk without trace and no one even gives them a thought today: celebrities one day, and forgotten the next. But whereas there is nothing sad about their fate, there is genuine tragedy about the characters in this film, including some of the minor ones, such as the blackmailer's jilted girlfriend, a poignant portrait of despair which is heartbreaking. Yes, this is a film about people at the very edge of desperation, and we must never be contemptuous of people who are driven so far that in their wild frenzy they become capable of anything. It is very much a tribute to the sensitivity of Claude Miller that we are able to feel sympathy even for the tormented Adjani character. That is the sign of a real film-maker.

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