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A man befriends a fellow criminal as the two of them begin serving their sentence on a dreadful prison island, which inspires the man to plot his escape.

Writers:

Dalton Trumbo (screenplay), Lorenzo Semple Jr. (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
167 ( 52)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve McQueen ... Henri 'Papillon' Charriere
Dustin Hoffman ... Louis Dega
Victor Jory ... Indian Chief
Don Gordon ... Julot
Anthony Zerbe ... Toussaint
Robert Deman Robert Deman ... Maturette
Woodrow Parfrey ... Clusiot
Bill Mumy ... Lariot
George Coulouris ... Dr. Chatal
Ratna Assan ... Zoraima
William Smithers ... Warden Barrot
Val Avery ... Pascal
Gregory Sierra ... Antonio
Vic Tayback ... Sergeant (as Victor Tayback)
Mills Watson ... Guard
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Storyline

A semi-fictional account of Henri Charrière's time in the penal system in French Guyana - some of it spent on infamous Devil's Island - is presented. It's the early 1930s. Charrière - nicknamed Papillon because of his butterfly tattoo - and Louis Dega are two among many who have been convicted in the French judicial system, they now being transferred to French Guyana where they will serve their time, never to return to France even if they are ever released. A safe-cracker by criminal profession, Papillon is serving a life sentence for murdering a pimp, a crime for which he adamantly states he was framed. Dega is a wealthy counterfeiter, who expects his well-to-do wife eventually to get him released. On Papillon's initiative, Papillon and Dega enter into a business arrangement: Papillon will provide protection for Dega, while Dega will finance Papillon's escape attempt. As Papillon and Degas' time together lasts longer than either expects, their burgeoning friendship ends up being an ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Escape is Everything! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

France | USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

19 December 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Leptir See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$53,267,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (magnetic prints)| Mono (optical prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

A harness is visible on Papillon's midsection as he helps Dega over the wall. See more »

Quotes

Maturette: We all have sensitive spots.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The Spanish version has several cuts during the film due to censorship reasons, including scene on Devil's Island. This version also includes a song called "Toi qui regardes la mer" that appears during the end credits with music by and sung by the French singer Nicoletta. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Huo shao dao (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Ballet Music from Faust
(uncredited)
Music by Charles Gounod
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Terrific! Most underrated film ever.
15 December 2004 | by GoodfellasFANSee all my reviews

I felt so moved after watching this film. Steve McQueen did a terrific job acting as Henry. Although at times, he just acted as McQueen, he did a wonderful job expressing suffering in the solitary confinement scene, and great towards the end of the movie. Hoffman is always an exceptional actor and in this movie he is no different. Unfortunately it neither won for, nor got nominated for an Oscar, and it deserved to win 3 (supporting actor, actor, picture). As much as I loved the Sting, this movie was better for that year.Some critics gave it a bad review, even a 1973 Roger Ebert article criticized this film. I guess you cant blame them too much, movies were better those days. Note that 1973 was sandwiched between 2 Godfather years.Maybe some people figured that McQueen was just redoing his Great Escape role. Either way, nowadays films are so bad I am just thirsting for a movie this deep. But if the best Hollywood can do nowadays is a glittzy trashpiece like Chicago, we cant expect too much from our times.


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