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Les Enfants Terribles (1950)

Les enfants terribles (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 28 July 1952 (USA)
The dangerously obsessive relationship between a psychologically manipulative brother and sister who isolate themselves and draw others into their mind games.


Jean Cocteau (novel), Jean Cocteau (adaptation)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Nicole Stéphane ... Elisabeth
Edouard Dermithe ... Paul
Renée Cosima Renée Cosima ... Dargelos / Agathe
Jacques Bernard Jacques Bernard ... Gerard
Melvyn Martin Melvyn Martin ... Michael
Maria Cyliakus Maria Cyliakus ... The Mother
Jean-Marie Robain ... Headmaster
Maurice Revel Maurice Revel ... Doctor
Rachel Devirys
Adeline Aucoc Adeline Aucoc ... Mariette
Emile Mathys Emile Mathys ... Vice Principal
Roger Gaillard Roger Gaillard ... Gerard's Uncle
Jean Cocteau ... Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Annabel Buffet Annabel Buffet ... Le mannequin
Pierre Bénichou Pierre Bénichou ... Young schoolboy (Extra)


In a snowball fight between schoolboys the handsome Dargelos hits the chest of Paul, who drops unconscious to the ground. Paul has a deep affection for Dargelos, and later denies that there was a stone in the snowball that hit him. Back home Paul's sister Elisabeth takes care of him. The teenage siblings live together in one room, where they have developed several private games. Paul's schoolmate Gérard is secretly enamored of Elisabeth, and often stays with them. When Elisabeth introduces her new friend Agathe to Paul, he recognizes that she resembles Dargelos strongly, and immediately falls in love with her. Elisabeth marries a rich young American Jew, Michael, but he dies in a car accident the day after the wedding. Elisabeth inherits his big apartment with 18 rooms and a gallery, and the four friends move into it. Paul sleeps in the gallery, where he builds a replica of the siblings' old room. Both Paul and Agathe are secretly enamored of the other. When each of them reveals this ... Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


a love story by Jean Cocteau




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


This is the only feature film Jean-Pierre Melville ever made that was neither (strictly speaking) a crime melodrama, such as Bob le Flambeur (1956), Le Samouraï (1967) and Le Cercle Rouge (1970), nor a drama set during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II, such as Le Silence de la Mer (1949), Léon Morin, Priest (1961) or Army of Shadows (1969). See more »


The amount of blood on Paul's face changes between when he is in the shop and when he is in the taxi. See more »


Headmaster: I forbid you to speak to me like that!
Dargelos: I'll speak any way I want!
Headmaster: Do you grasp the seriousness of your situation?
Dargelos: You're a pain in the ass!
See more »

Alternate Versions

The song that Michael sings while sitting at the piano was deleted for the original American release. See more »


Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Une vague nouvelle (1999) See more »


Were You Smiling At Me
Words and Music by Melvyn Martin
Performed by Melvyn Martin
See more »

User Reviews

Playing 'the Game'.
20 April 2020 | by brogmillerSee all my reviews

Jean Cocteau wrote his novel 'Les enfants terribles' in 1929 whilst in a clinic undergoing a cure for opium addiction. He has entrusted the direction of the film version to Jean-Pierre Melville who freely admits that he made it 'essentially to please myself without much thought of the public'. Therein I think lies the problem. It is a very well made film indeed with assured direction, excellent camerawork from Henri Decae and inspired use of J. S. Bach and Antonio Vivaldi. Despite these positives it is a very hard film to like as one does not really care what happens to the characters. Even the fate of the two protagonists at the film's end left me indifferent. Cocteau had launched the career of Jean Marais and obviously hoped to do the same for Edouard Dermithe but this was not to be as Dermithe although conforming to his mentor's idea of male beauty, is bland, vapid and totally uninteresting. Nicole Stephane whose acting career was cut short by a car accident, is far from being uninteresting! Her character is manipulative, spiteful and vengeful and the manner in she comes between Paul and Agathe is frightening. She plays her role with relish and is very powerful. Melville had the idea that the author should narrate the film in order 'to preserve his beautiful voice'. Cocteau's voice is hardly beautiful in my opinion but rather harsh which does not exactly make the film any more approachable. Cocteau was deeply hurt by the critical drubbing it received but it was only a question of time before such an off-beat, bizarre and rather unpleasant opus would achieve cult status.

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French | English

Release Date:

28 July 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Les Enfants Terribles See more »

Filming Locations:

Ermenonville, Oise, France See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Melville Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Euphonic Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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