An undertaker marries an old executioner's daughter and, although he doesn't like it, must continue the profession of his father-in-law after his retirement.


Luis García Berlanga (as Luis Gª. Berlanga)


Luis García Berlanga (story) (as Luis Gª Berlanga), Rafael Azcona (story) | 3 more credits »
4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Nino Manfredi ... José Luis Rodríguez, el enterrador
Emma Penella ... Carmen, la hija de Amadeo
José Isbert ... Amadeo, el verdugo (as Jose Isbert)
José Luis López Vázquez ... Antonio Rodríguez, el hermano mayor de José Luis (as Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez)
Ángel Álvarez ... Álvarez, el enterrador (as Angel Alvarez)
Guido Alberti Guido Alberti ... Director de la prisión
Julia Caba Alba ... Mujer visitante de la obra nº 2
María Luisa Ponte ... Estefanía, esposa de Antonio (as Maria Luisa Ponte)
María Isbert ... Ignacia, esposa de Álvarez (as Maria Isbert)
Erasmo Pascual ... San Martín
Xan das Bolas ... Guarda de la obra
José Orjas ... Marqués (as Jose Orjas)
José María Prada ... Vigilante con botella de champán (as Jose Maria Prada)
Félix Fernández ... Organista (as Felix Fernandez)
Antonio Ferrandis ... Funcionario de prisiones


The history starts with the main character (an old executioner in the Spain of early 60's) approaching retirement age. As his profession is not exactly what you could call "popular", he (a very gentle and nice man, caring, and proud of traditions) begins to worry about who might take his place when he retires. He has a daughter, but, unfortunately, she seems doomed to perpetual "spinsterhood": as soon as any prospective groom learns about her dad and her dad's "trade", he runs away from her, scared. A sad life... However, a new character enters: the local undertaker, a handsome and young man who has exactly the same problem... No girl wants him given his profession. So, you have the woman whom almost nobody would marry and the man whom almost nobody would marry. Obviously, they are meant for each other. But here the old executioner has something to say: He does not object to her daughter marrying the young undertaker; he seems a decent man, and all that... But there is a condition: ... Written by Jose Beltran <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Comedy


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The film is preserved from original image and sound negatives, positive duplicates and combined negatives. The original negative was cut in a first assault by censorship; those cuts were lost. After the film's release, censorship introduced a second wave of cuts, but these weren't made on the original negative (which had been declared "for exportation"), but on the negative duplicate. Some cuts and variations introduced by censorship are also preserved. See more »


Carmen, la hija de Amadeo: [subtitled version]
[Amadeo enters his home while José Luis is in bed; he rushes to hide behind the bedroom door. Carmen gets out of the kitchen and listens for a long time her father talking about an apartment he's found]
Carmen, la hija de Amadeo: Father, I love José Luis.
Amadeo, el verdugo: That's fine. He's a decent, reliable young man.
Carmen, la hija de Amadeo: He's here. He wants to talk to you.
Amadeo, el verdugo: Here? Where?
Carmen, la hija de Amadeo: [she points at the bedroom] In there.
José Luis Rodríguez, el enterrador: [Amadeo goes to the bedroom and finds José Luis soaking his front with a wet cloth] I have a terrible headache.
Amadeo, el verdugo: You have a ...
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Referenced in El rey del mambo (1989) See more »


El verdugo
Composed by Adolfo Waitzman
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User Reviews

Gallows Humour
20 February 2019 | by MogwaiMovieReviewsSee all my reviews

This is a real treat, a keenly observed, merry black comedy of life for a mild-mannered undertaker turned unwilling hangman. Every scene is filled with small observations and asides that add something memorable, and every bit character in every scene tosses in some little bit of "business" that is not necessary for the plot, but enriches it and deepens the believability of the world in which it is set.

Watching this made me think on how, if this film had been made at the same time outside of Europe, the British would have probably made it as a crass Carry On movie, and the Americans would most likely have turned it into a Jerry Lewis vehicle, without any subtlety, thoughtfulness, sensuality, societal commentary or beauty, and yet this is funnier than any of those put together, too.

The wedding scene is hilarious, with so much going on at every moment outside of the dialogue, and the "wave to daddy" line on the docks is priceless.

It's always a comedy, and yet one in which the viewer is never allowed to escape the oppressive moral weight of taking another's life, and the inability to look away from this increases as it goes along, until the ending borders on harrowing.

It's a film that really should be as well known as some of those by Fellini, and I'm eager now to see more by its mischevious writer and director, Luis Garcia Berlanga.

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Spain | Italy



Release Date:

13 March 1964 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

The Executioner See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Naga Films, Zebra Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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