Malpertuis

  • Film
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A fresh-faced blond sailor (Carrière) is shanghaied from a '20s port full of sleazy bars and art-nouveau mansions, and held captive in the endless corridors of a crumbling Gothic pile called Malpertuis: we don't discover why until the end, in a denouement as outrageous and devastating as any ever filmed. Kümel elaborates the mystery like a master, drawing much of his design and composition from Surrealist painting (Magritte, de Chirico), and weaving serpentine patterns from the intrigues between the many characters. Welles is at his most mountainous as the house's patriarch; Hampshire is a revelation, playing three contrasted women. This English-dialogue version is better than the French and Flemish originals (which run 22 minutes longer). From the novel by Jean Ray.

Release details

Duration: 104 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Harry Kümel
Screenwriter: Jean Ferry
Cast: Orson Welles
Susan Hampshire
Michel Bouquet
Mathieu Carrière
Jean-Pierre Cassel
Sylvie Vartan
Walter Rilla
Johnny Hallyday

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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JohnS

The Time Out summary does a disservice in recommending the English-language version rather than the longer Flemish one. Both can now be compared in the outstanding 2-disc DVD edition from the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique; the extras unravel the sorry history of the compromise English/French versions which were disowned by the director.

JohnS

The Time Out summary does a disservice in recommending the English-language version rather than the longer Flemish one. Both can now be compared in the outstanding 2-disc DVD edition from the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique; the extras unravel the sorry history of the compromise English/French versions which were disowned by the director.