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The Hatter's Ghost (1982)

Les fantômes du chapelier (original title)
Labbé, a hatter in a French provincial town, leads the life of a respectable citizen but is in fact a serial murderer. The only person to suspect this is his neighbour Kachoudas, an ... See full summary »


Claude Chabrol


Claude Chabrol, Georges Simenon (novel)
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michel Serrault ... Léon Labbé
Charles Aznavour ... Kachoudas
Monique Chaumette Monique Chaumette ... Mme Labbé
François Cluzet ... Jeantet
Isabelle Sadoyan Isabelle Sadoyan ... Alice Kachoudas
Jean Champion Jean Champion ... Le sénateur Laude
Bernard Dumaine Bernard Dumaine ... Arnoult
Victor Garrivier Victor Garrivier ... Le docteur Chaudreau
Jean Leuvrais Jean Leuvrais ... Lambert
Christine Paolini Christine Paolini ... Louise Chapus
Robert Party Robert Party ... L'inspecteur Caille
Fabrice Ploquin Fabrice Ploquin ... Valentin
Nathalie Homs Nathalie Homs ... Esther (as Nathalie Hayat)
Isabelle Lafon Isabelle Lafon
Jean-Claude Bouillaud Jean-Claude Bouillaud ... Le père de Louise


Labbé, a hatter in a French provincial town, leads the life of a respectable citizen but is in fact a serial murderer. The only person to suspect this is his neighbour Kachoudas, an Armenian tailor. After the hatter kills his own wife, he then kills six of her friends to stop them visiting her and prepares to murder a seventh when the intended victim dies naturally. As a substitute, he murders the maid. At the same time, Kachoudas is dying and Labbé confesses his crime to him. Then, after getting drunk he visits his favourite prostitute Berthe and kills her too, being found there in the morning by the police. Written by Christian Herzog von Donat

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Release Date:

25 May 1982 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Hatter's Ghost See more »

Filming Locations:

Concarneau, Finistère, France See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


[last lines]
Léon Labbé: [to voyeurs in Berthe's street] Don't touch me... Don't beat me... I'm giving in!
See more »


References Carrefour (1938) See more »


Pose ta Joue sur mon Epaule
Lyrics by Charles Aznavour
Music by Georges Garvarentz
Performed by Jairo
Produced by Renaldo Cerri for Garima
Distributed by RCA
See more »

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User Reviews

THE HATTER'S GHOST (Claude Chabrol, 1982) ***1/2
23 June 2010 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

It was out of sheer coincidence that this viewing followed those of Chabrol's JUST BEFORE NIGHTFALL (1971) and THE BREACH (1970) since it has thematic similarities with the former, while adopting an incongruously stylized approach as the latter!

In fact, we have here a strangling (which, however, is a flashback this time around and occurs towards the end rather than at the very start) that is almost a replica of the one in JUST BEFORE NIGHTFALL. Similarly, the culprit is depicted as being unable to find peace of mind (and, in this case, stop his crime spree) until he is apprehended! With this in mind, the "Cult Filmz" website (where THE HATTER'S GHOST was given a similar rating as mine) bemoans the unsatisfying ending but, as for myself, I was not bothered by its ordinariness (this is, after all, essentially a low-key affair).

Incidentally, Leonard Maltin – who unjustly lambasts the film and awards it a measly *1/2 – may have been baffled by the seemingly deliberate heavy-handedness at work and, consequently, took Michel Serrault's performance in particular to be absurdly overstated. He is literally a "Mad Hatter", thus providing a link to yet another of the director's earlier efforts i.e. ALICE OR THE LAST ESCAPADE (1977). Indeed, as with the afore-mentioned (and intrinsically histrionic) THE BREACH, this could well be deemed a parody Chabrol movie if it were not so compelling (based on a novel by Georges Simenon) and obviously accomplished!

In the long run, THE HATTER'S GHOST emerges to be one of the most purely Hitchcockian works by France's own "Master Of Suspense", with definite nods to PSYCHO (1960) and FRENZY (1972) but also featuring a STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951)-like complicity between the film's two leads. The other protagonist is Charles Aznavour – no less impressive than Serrault, despite having far less screen-time – as the mousy Armenian tailor who constantly shadows the hatter, even witnessing one of his murders, but is too afraid to report him and, owing to his own frail health, eventually dies. Also in the cast are a young Francois Cluzet as a reporter who not only follows the case but is periodically contacted via taunting letters by the strangler, THE BREACH's Mario David as the clueless Chief of Police and Aurore Clement as an attractive woman all the menfolk lust after but who is clearly fated to cross paths with the killer eventually.

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