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Experiment in Evil (1959)

Le testament du Docteur Cordelier (original title)
Mr. Joly, doctor Cordelier's lawyer, is amazed to discover that his client and friend leaves his possessions to a stranger, Opale, a sadistic criminal. He needs this man to prove that people's behavior can be adjusted at will...


Jean Renoir


Jean Renoir




Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean-Louis Barrault ... Le docteur Cordelier / Opale
Teddy Bilis Teddy Bilis ... Maître Joly
Sylviane Margollé Sylviane Margollé ... La petite fille agressée par Opale
Jean Bertho Jean Bertho ... Le premier passant lors de l'agression
Jacques Ciron Jacques Ciron ... Le deuxième passant lors de l'agression
Annick Allières Annick Allières ... Une voisine
Dominique Dangon Dominique Dangon ... La mère de la petite fille
Jean Topart Jean Topart ... Désiré - le majordome
Michel Vitold Michel Vitold ... Le docteur Lucien Séverin
Micheline Gary Micheline Gary ... Marguerite
Jacques Danoville Jacques Danoville ... Le commissaire Lardaut (as Jacques Dannoville)
André Certes André Certes ... L'inspecteur Salbris
Jean-Pierre Granval Jean-Pierre Granval ... Le patron de l'hôtel de passe
Céline Sales Céline Sales ... La première fille
Jacqueline Morane Jacqueline Morane ... Alberte


Mr. Joly, doctor Cordelier's lawyer, is amazed to discover that his client and friend leaves his possessions to a stranger, Opale, a sadistic criminal. He needs this man to prove that people's behavior can be adjusted at will...

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This TV program later had a theatrical release. See more »


Version of The Jekyll and Hyde Portfolio (1971) See more »

User Reviews

Cordelier and Regle
11 March 2013 | by LobotomousMonkSee all my reviews

There is a quasi-prologue to introduce Cordelier, which goes a long way to connecting this TV-based production with other self-reflexive films Renoir made late in his career. Space is not explored or constructed in the same was as films like M. Lange or Regle while a lack of mobile framing maintains psychological identification with the characters. There is deep space, but not deep staging as the camera frames long corridors and archways but not groups of characters within the settings. There are situations where groups of townspeople move around together but it is a group held together tenuously and usually motivated by reactions to an event. The women in the building knew of Opale but found no reason to report his odd behavior underscoring that the milieu is very different from that of Lange, Illusion, Fonds or Regle. Some of the performances suffer from affectation which tends to diminish the impact of the Barrault roles. Dr. Cordelier has a moment while reading the newspaper where the audience is privy to an internal monologue - heightening the psychological dimensions of the narrative. There is some splattering of the famous Renoir stylistics when the doctor's party is thrown and later when the collective of workers attempt to stop Opale. Yet, soon after a flashback sequence puts things right back into the realm of the psychological (theatrical) as opposed to the social (realist). The themes of sexual perversion are somewhat muted (or perhaps they require a more 'European eye' to appreciate). The freedom that Cordelier experiences through subscribing to chaos has interesting political implications. In some manner, I feel that Cordelier is one of Renoir's more clearly political films. The narrative frame returns Renoir to the screen and the storyworld diegetic. The compulsion of the nature of humanity (quest of soul will be punished but will be freedom) echoes the true significance of a film like Regle - these films are connected philosophically, if not also thematically. Cordelier is well worth watching for the dynamic combination of Renoir and Barrault using the multiple camera shooting system. There is an even flow to the storytelling that renders the text engaging.

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Release Date:

16 November 1961 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Experiment in Evil See more »

Filming Locations:

Paris, France See more »


Box Office


FRF60,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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