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Head Against the Wall (1959)

La tête contre les murs (original title)
In order to get rid of his troublesome son François, Maître Gérane manages to have him committed to a mental hospital owned by Dr. Varmont, a supporter of traditional treatments, in ... See full summary »


Georges Franju


Hervé Bazin (novel) (as Hervé Bazin de l'Académie Goncourt), Jean-Pierre Mocky (adaptation) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pierre Brasseur ... Dr. Varmont
Paul Meurisse ... Dr. Emery
Jean-Pierre Mocky Jean-Pierre Mocky ... François Gérane
Anouk Aimée ... Stéphanie
Jean Galland ... Maître Gérane
Jean Ozenne Jean Ozenne ... Comte Elzéar de Chambrelle
Thomy Bourdelle Thomy Bourdelle ... Colonel Donnadieu
Rudy Lenoir Rudy Lenoir ... Le planqué
Roger Legris ... Decauville
Henri San Juan Henri San Juan ... Patron du billard
Edith Scob ... La folle qui chante
René Alié René Alié
Luc Andrieux Luc Andrieux ... Un infirmier
Doudou Babet Doudou Babet ... Le Noir
Claude Badolle Claude Badolle


In order to get rid of his troublesome son François, Maître Gérane manages to have him committed to a mental hospital owned by Dr. Varmont, a supporter of traditional treatments, in constant conflict with Dr. Emery, whose therapy takes the psychology of patients into account. François soon makes friends with Heurtevent, a sweet epileptic, and both decide to escape from the place. Their attempt is a failure and Heurtevent, unable to get over what he considers a return to hell, commits suicide. But rebellious François tries again and this time around he is successful. He finds shelter at his friend Stephanie's home... Written by Guy Bellinger

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Release Date:

20 March 1959 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Head Against the Wall See more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Thomy Bourdelle's 77th and final film. See more »

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User Reviews

"I have only one life and I don't want to spend it behind the walls"
6 May 2003 | by IlyaMauterSee all my reviews

La Tete contre les Murs (Head Against the Wall) was the first feature film directed by Georges Franju. Prior to that he made a dozen shot features and documentaries most remarkable of them being his debut 1949th documentary "Blood of the Beasts". Franju is mainly known for being the co-founder in 1936 of the French Film Archive.

Originally Head Against the Wall was the dream project of Jean-Pierre Mocky, who made a screenplay adaptation of the novel by Herve Bazin and invited Franju to direct it. With Franju came the rest of the cast, namely: Pierre Brasseur, Paul Meurisse and Charles Aznavour, who proved here that he not only can sing, but act also, and how!

The main character of the film François (Jean-Pierre Mocky) is a troubled young man whose main occupation in life is motor-cross racing and whose mother had recently committed suicide. The only glimpse of light in his life is Stephanie (Anouk Aimee). Since the tragic death of his mother he finds it especially difficult to live with his despotic father Mr. Gerane. The tension between them comes too far resulting in François being sent to a Mental Hospital by his father, under a false medical report. Here we come to the second main theme of the film (the first being father-son, in fact generations conflict) which is sanity behind the insanity, sanity in the world of the insane. Entering this world François finds a friend Heurtevent (Charles Aznavour) who is like him has little to do with the place they are in. He's a kind of a very sad day-dreamer who simply wants to get free from Hospital's surroundings and constant control of a kind of a substitute for his father, it's director - Dr. Valmont (Pierre Brasseur) and peacefully live somewhere by the seaside. Together with François they are beginning to make plans to escape. 7/10

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