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The Maids (1975)

A film version of Genet's play. Two house cleaners, Solange and Claire, hate their employers and, while they are out, take turns at dressing up as Madame and insulting her.


Christopher Miles


Robert Enders (screenplay), Jean Genet (play) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview:
Glenda Jackson ... Solange
Susannah York ... Claire
Vivien Merchant ... Madame
Mark Burns ... Monsieur


'The Maids' was one of Jean Genet's most outstanding plays representing the avant-garde of French playwriting when it was written in 1946. On the surface the film is about two maids of a wealthy Parisian woman, who resentful of their servitude dream of their escape and their revenge on Madame. But with wonderful high rhetoric where Genet turns evil into a sort of religious ecstasy, both the maids and their mistress are shown to be caught up in whirligigs of false illusions and inaccessible desires, which ultimately end in tragedy.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sisters. Servants. Sinners.


Drama | Romance


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Last cinema feature of Vivien Merchant. See more »


Solange: Madame is getting carried away!
Claire: I'm getting carried away by the devil! In his fragrant arms he's lifting me. I'm taking off! I'm high!
See more »


Featured in Queerama (2017) See more »

User Reviews

Maid Better than Most
24 February 2004 | by Prof_LostiswitzSee all my reviews

The Maids is one of the great stage classics of the XX century, and this 1974 version does it full justice. American Film Theatre was an attempt to bring stage to screen; I had previously seen only one of their efforts, Rhinoceros, which was ruined by an attempt to shift the setting from France to America.

The Maids doesn't make that mistake; the setting is ostentatiously, gorgeously French. Glenda Jackson and Susannah York have British accents, but this still maintains the European feel of the piece...and their acting is superb. Their ability to project histrionics at just the right moment brings to life what would otherwise be a stagebound snooze. The exquisite composition of colours and textures in the apartment also makes for compelling viewing.

The story concerns two psychotic and resentful maids who hatch a variety of fantastic plots for killing Madame, their employer. Also, the have a ceremony which involves one of them dressing up as Madame and tormenting the other; it is obvious that there is a vast pool of venom underneath the surface pretence of kindness and consideration shown by Madame.

The dialogue is ritualized and stylized, almost like Shakespearean blank verse - one would expect no less from Jean Genet, who was like Shakespeare in many ways. You have to be willing to like prose-poetry, but it's worth giving it a chance.

I'm convinced that the play was a major influence on Fassbinder's "Petra von Kant"; that movie is reckoned to be a classic, but this one is even better, so more people should check it out.

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Release Date:

13 December 1977 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Jean Genet's The Maids See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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