In search of help, two wounded gangsters on the run find refuge in the secluded castle of a feeble man and his wife; however, under the point of a gun, nothing is what it seems.


Roman Polanski


Roman Polanski (original screenplay), Gérard Brach (original screenplay) (as Gerard Brach)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Donald Pleasence ... George
Françoise Dorléac ... Teresa
Lionel Stander ... Richard
Jack MacGowran ... Albie
Iain Quarrier ... Christopher
Geoffrey Sumner ... Christopher's Father
Renee Houston ... Christopher's Mother
Robert Dorning Robert Dorning ... Philip Fairweather
Marie Kean ... Marion Fairweather
William Franklyn William Franklyn ... Cecil
Jacqueline Bisset ... Jacqueline (as Jackie Bisset)
Trevor Delaney Trevor Delaney ... Horace


A wounded criminal and his dying partner take refuge at a beachfront castle. The owners of the castle, a meek Englishman and his willful French wife, are initially the unwilling hosts to the criminals. Quickly, however, the relationships between the criminal, the wife, and the Englishman begin to shift in humorous and bizarre fashion. Written by Sean Taylor <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sometimes There's Nothing Better To Do Than Laugh! See more »


Comedy | Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Roman Polanski shot 16 takes of the scene in which Lionel Stander drinks a pint of milk. See more »


The record with the Cul-de-sac theme that Nicolas scratched is different from the one Teresa later plays and jumps. See more »


[first lines]
Richard: What the hell are you doing?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The VHS version released in Brazil by Globo Vídeo has exactly 100 minutes. See more »


Referenced in The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002) See more »

User Reviews

"Get the hell outta my fortress!"
19 November 2017 | by elvircorhodzicSee all my reviews

CUL-DE-SAC is a psychological comic thriller as an unusual set of surreal circumstances in a realistic landscape. The characters are trapped in a confusing context, which is made up of a mafia, art, promiscuity and perversions. The story is peppered with all sorts of antics, but it is not unpleasant. The plots are inconclusive, but its are enriched with a huge dose of black humor.

A neurotic and effeminate middle-aged Englishman named George lives with his promiscuous young French wife Teresa in a dark castle on a hilltop. Two gangsters, after the unexpected upward tide, invade their messy home and hold them as hostage. Teresa is mad at her timid husband, who does not take any action on the bandits. Gangsters are starting to behave a bit eccentric, while waiting for help from his boss. Uninvited guests come to a visit. Simply, someone has to "boil over"...

Mr. Polanski, in this film, covers topics such as the alienation and a latent madness, which are closely related to a sexual activity. He has managed to replace an emotional void in this film with a combination of black humor, crime and perversion. The characterization is not bad.

Donald Pleasence as George is a kinky and fun husband who has his grotesque moments in this film. He is a man who feels comfortable in a transparent nightgown but he, with a huge dose of disgust, takes a gun in his hand. That is a phenomenal paradox of the situation in the world. His cowardice is ambiguous, because, despite everything, he wants to return a harmonious relation in his home. Lionel Stander as Dickey, through his gangster attitude, distinctive voice and eccentric behavior enjoys the general madness. Françoise Dorléac as Teresa is a beautiful, attractive and nude factor of confusion between George and Dickey.

Mr. Polanski has skillfully managed to balance all segments in this film, but this story still reminds me to a sexy morbid joke.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 66 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook





Release Date:

7 November 1966 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cul-de-sac See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed