7.7/10
4,089
35 user 35 critic

This Man Must Die (1969)

Que la bête meure (original title)
A man asserts himself within the life of an actress he believes is somehow responsible for his son's death.

Director:

Claude Chabrol

Writers:

Cecil Day-Lewis (novel) (as Nicholas Blake), Claude Chabrol (dialogue) | 3 more credits »
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michel Duchaussoy ... Charles Thénier
Caroline Cellier ... Hélène Lanson
Jean Yanne ... Paul Decourt
Anouk Ferjac ... Jeanne Decourt
Marc Di Napoli Marc Di Napoli ... Philippe Decourt
Louise Chevalier Louise Chevalier ... Madame Levenes
Guy Marly Guy Marly ... Jacques Ferrand
Lorraine Rainer Lorraine Rainer ... Anna Ferrand
Dominique Zardi Dominique Zardi ... Le premier inspecteur de police
Stéphane Di Napoli Stéphane Di Napoli ... Michel Thénier
Raymone Raymone ... La mère de Paul
Michel Charrel Michel Charrel ... Le ferrailleur
France Girard France Girard
Bernard Papineau ... Le policier
Robert Rondo Robert Rondo ... Le garagiste
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Storyline

Single father obsessed with murdering the hit&run driver who killed his only child, poses as a screenwriter to get close to an actress who was in the death car. He feels fully prepared to kill the pretty young woman if she was the driver, but as his knowledge of her family grows, so does his empathy for them. Written by David Stevens

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

...a Thriller See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The role of Paul Decourt was first proposed to Philippe Noiret, but he refused, especially because he dreaded the boat scenes. When Claude Chabrol proposed the role to Jean Yanne, the latter answered him: "I do not see any abjection". See more »

Goofs

At the beginning Paul is shifting several times although the Mustang has an automatic transmission. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Beast Must Die (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

La terre
By Dominique Zardi
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User Reviews

 
A striking film, with a Highsmith flavor, and vintage Chabrol
12 June 2006 | by Chris KnippSee all my reviews

This is one of the best Chabrol films I have seen. It's interesting to note that it's based upon a novel by Nicolas Blake, pen name of C. Day Lewis, at one time Poet Laureate of England and father of Daniel Day Lewis. From the movie, it seems Blake/Lewis was writing very much in the spirit of the great, and very cinematic, mistress of psychological crime writing, Patricia Highsmith. Though she never wrote anything exactly like this, the similarity is in the first-person narrative of a potential murderer, and in the way the story approaches an utterly evil person in an everyday upper-bourgeois setting; even the account of a man having an 'affair' with a woman he isn't necessarily attracted to is typically Highsmith; and there's attempted murder on a sailboat, and a man is almost bludgeoned on the head with a rock – Highsmith devices. The journal of the man contemplating murder, which is then found out, is something Highsmith might have liked.

Though as some have noted the narrator finds his way to the hit and run killer of his son a little too easily, the movie by allowing that is able to take us headlong into an astonishing, almost shocking situation. To get so close to evil -- this man who everybody hates, who would kill and cover it up and make his sister collaborate, who is abusive to everybody and everything, yet lives in bourgeois splendor, is so unusual it takes a while to realize how hair-raising it is.

Events move quickly after that. This is more understated than most of Chabrol and the greatest violence consists of a few slaps on the face of a lover or a boy, and words of abuse hurled by a boorish man and his nasty mother, but those moments are all the more disturbing for coming in such a buttoned-up world, and the action is very fast and economical compared to some of Chabrol's films. The scenes between the narrator and the boy Philippe where the boy says he wants his father dead and wishes Mark/Charles were his father, are very touching. The references to the rich variety of death descriptions in the Iliad are particularly resonant, as is the one at the end to Brahms quoting Hebrew scriptures, with the Brahms song sung by the great Kathleen Ferrier. The style may be neutral but the film is elegant and its look has not dated. The repugnant family scenes and the nightmarish dinners are typically Chabrol. The simplicity of the style is the more impressive seen in terms of possible followers like Ozon. They don't make them like this any more; they can't.

Michel Duchaussoy makes a good contrast to Yanne because he is so bland. He's an intentionally neutral figure whose moral status is meant to be ambiguous. Is he a hero out of Greek tragedy or is he just an escaping villain? Has he brought about justice -- has he even done it, since the son claims responsibility -- or has he merely been sucked into a whirlpool of evil? In the detective's office he finally begins to look for the first time like a sensitive writer. Before that he looked like a bland actor, but his opacity is just what Chabrol wants. Maybe he's one of Chabrol's most appealing heroes, but in the end what are we admiring?


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Details

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

French

Release Date:

20 October 1970 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

This Man Must Die See more »

Filming Locations:

Argol, Finistère, France See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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