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Charles, Dead or Alive (1969)

Charles mort ou vif (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 15 January 1970 (France)
On the 100th anniversary of the founding of a watchmaking company in Geneva, Charles Dé the founder's 50-year-old grandson has had it: he speaks eccentrically to a reporter, recognizing his... See full summary »


Alain Tanner


Alain Tanner (scenario)
1 win. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
François Simon François Simon ... Charles Dé
Marie-Claire Dufour Marie-Claire Dufour ... Adeline
Marcel Robert Marcel Robert ... Paul
Maya Simon Maya Simon ... Marianne Dé, fille de Charles
André Schmidt André Schmidt ... Pierre Dé, fils de Charles
Jo Excoffier Jo Excoffier ... Reporter de TV
Walter Schochli Walter Schochli ... Le détective (as Walter Schöchli)
Jean-Pierre Moriaud Jean-Pierre Moriaud ... L'avocat
Janine Christoffe Janine Christoffe ... La femme de chambre (as Janine Christophe)
Michèle Martel Michèle Martel ... Germaine Dé, la femme de Charles
Martine Simon Martine Simon ... Cilette
Liliane Bovard Liliane Bovard
Jean-Luc Bideau ... Le premier ambulancier
Francis Reusser Francis Reusser ... Le second infirmier
Antoine Bordier Antoine Bordier ... Le réceptionniste de l'hôtel


On the 100th anniversary of the founding of a watchmaking company in Geneva, Charles Dé the founder's 50-year-old grandson has had it: he speaks eccentrically to a reporter, recognizing his grandfather as a craftsman and his son as a businessman, but is evasive about himself. He gives his family the slip and moves in with a young couple he meets by chance, doing the cooking, reading, drinking, and engaging in philosophical discussions with them. The young couple comes to love Charles. In secret, he stays in touch with a daughter, and the rest of the family hires a private investigator to find him, setting in motion a business take-over that threatens his Bohemian happiness. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Referenced in Freddy Buache, le cinéma (2012) See more »

User Reviews

More dead than alive
4 November 2020 | by federovskySee all my reviews

A small-scale industrialist decides he's had enough, for no clearly elucidated reason, and does a runner. He discards his glasses, adopts a false name and lands first in a seedy hotel where he lies morosely in bed all day. Up to this point--apart from a dull television interview (did the French really take that kind of thing seriously?)--the film was intriguing enough, but once Mr Dé hooks up with a funky Bohmenian couple there is little further development. And thanks to the overbearing character played by Marcel Robert--some kind of gentle giant--the film becomes an irksome labour to watch, like a morose 'Jules et Jim'. The film would have been better off without the Bohemians altogether, and, we cannot but help suppose, so would Mr Dé.

The action is mainly static and bereft of interesting images or cinematic movement. People sit around or stand around lamenting about nothing in particular in mournful tones and spouting philosophical epigrams with a degree of pretentiousness that only the French don't realise is pretentious. The film is almost entirely composed of these conversations. Some scenes only serve to disengage, with odd behaviour (running up a gravel mound), blatant symbolism (pushing a car off a cliff), much awkward, self-conscious acting as if the actors were embarrassed to be bogged down in all the forced meaning, and terrible directing, such as when Mr Dé is sitting at a table in a cafe absurdly squeezed up to two other people who don't even look at him when he starts an unpleasant drunken tirade.

This is the fag end of the leftist utopia that went up in flames the previous year. Yes, we get the loss of identity and sense of despair, but was there no other treatment than this? In 'The Bedsitting Room', Spike Milligan also dealt with the last flickering of the human spirit in a wrecked world, but that was a work of surreal genius. This humourless and tendentious allegory of lost hope is hard going and only fans of wintry atmosphere will find it worthwhile.

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Release Date:

15 January 1970 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Charles, Dead or Alive See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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