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The Hatter's Ghost (1982)

Les fantômes du chapelier (original title)
Labbé is a quiet hatter in a small town, living with his handicapped wife who never goes out. His neighbour, a tailor, is fascinated by him. A series of female murders shakes the town. Is Labbé involved?


Claude Chabrol


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




Cast overview, first billed only:
Michel Serrault ... Léon Labbé
Charles Aznavour ... Kachoudas
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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Did You Know?


Based on the novel "Les Fantômes du chapelier" by Georges Simenon, published in 1949. The movie roughly follows the plot, including the ending, despite the fact the action is not in La Rochelle but in Concarneau (with some scenes shot in Quimper). See more »


[last lines]
Léon Labbé: [to voyeurs in Berthe's street] Don't touch me... Don't beat me... I'm giving in!
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References Ben-Hur (1959) 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
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User Reviews

20 years after.
25 January 2002 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

"Les fantômes du chapelier" ,very well received at the time of release,still stands as Chabrol's best movie in the eighties,though certain aspects of its premise have undergone some reassessment.

Seen today,the movie displays flaws that were hardly noticeable 20 years ago.First of all,Michel Serrault overplays:his over-the -top performance ,once lauded ,seems now exasperating and throws the movie off balance.(I wonder what Chabrol's other favorite,Michel Bouquet, would have done in this part).This imbalance is increased by the fact that Charles Aznavour's character is not present enough on the screen.Aznavour gives a wonderful portrayal of an Armenian émigré,whom bourgeois Serrault enjoys humiliating and demeaning.With hindsight Aznavour beats Serrault hands down.

The problem with "les fantômes du chapelier" is that it recalls other superior movies:bourgeois impunity had always been treated by Chabrol himself during his 1967-1973 heyday (notably:"la femme infidèle","la rupture" "juste avant la nuit""docteur Popaul"),but also long before him:Henri Decoin's "non coupable" (1946) and "la verite sur Bebe Donge" (1952): in the 1946 film,the intention is much clearier and scarier than in Chabrol's 1982 effort,and ,anyway,Serrault is no match for Michel Simon.We can also mention George Lautner's "le septième juré". "Les fantômes du chapelier" has an eerie side,verging on fantastic ,but ,again,there's the rub:let's face it,it looks like some kind of "psycho" of which the secret would have been be revealed sooner.

Something intriguing:the camera often shows a "Ben Hur" poster in the neighborhood .A tribute to William Wyler is dubious from a "nouvelle vague " family director,but who knows?

See it anyways.Its several incredible moments will make it worth your while.For Charles Aznavour and for Chabrol's always absorbing depiction of a small town.

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Armenian | French

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




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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