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Cul-de-sac (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1966)

Donald Pleasance , Francoise Dorleac , Roman Polanski  |  NR |  Blu-ray
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Cul-de-sac (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + Repulsion (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + Rosemary's Baby (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Donald Pleasance, Francoise Dorleac, Lionel Stander
  • Directors: Roman Polanski
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Black & White, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: August 16, 2011
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005152C6Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,516 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

New digital restoration, approved by director Roman Polanski, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack

Two Gangsters and an Island, a 2003 short documentary about the making of Cul-de-sac, featuring interviews with Polanski, producer Gene Gutowski, and cinematographer Gil Taylor

Interview with Polanski from 1967

Theatrical trailers

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Thompson

Editorial Reviews

Roman Polanski (Repulsion) orchestrates a mental ménage à trois in this slyly absurd tale of paranoia from the director’s golden 1960s period. Donald Pleasance (Halloween) and Françoise Dorléac (The Soft Skin) star as a withdrawn couple whose isolated house is infiltrated by a rude, burly American gangster on the run, played by Lionel Stander (Unfaithfully Yours). The three engage in a game of shifting identities and sexual and emotional humiliations. Cul-de-sac is an evocative, claustrophobic, and morbidly funny tale of the modern world in chaos.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The film shifts from engaging to brilliant August 17, 2011
Judge Clark Douglas, DVD Verdict-- There are some creepy moments (especially early on, as we don't quite have a handle on who the characters are or what they're attempting to accomplish--Polanski fills in the blanks in a deliberate, methodical manner), but after a while it becomes clear that Cul-de-sac works best when Polanski is being playful.

Perhaps this is due to the fact that it's easier to switch from chills to laughs than vice versa. There are some squirm-inducing yet entertaining moments during the first hour of the film, as the flustered husband and his sneering wife engage in a series of amusing interactions with the American. It's tempting to feel that Polanski is making a larger cultural point, as he seems to have infused each of these three characters with the worst stereotypical traits of the countries they represent: the rude, boorish, violent American; the stammering, spineless, indecisive Englishman and the devious, cruel, self-serving Frenchwoman. The actors push and pull off each other in some intriguing ways (with Pleasance doing particularly good work as a man ever-so-slowly reaching his boiling point).

However, the film shifts from engaging to brilliant with the arrival of several unexpected guests. Over the course of twenty-five minutes or so, we're treated to an increasingly hilarious comic set piece in which the players are spun around in a variety of interesting ways until Pleasance finally explodes in cathartic rage.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WISE CHOICE OF CRITERION May 25, 2011
This Roman Polanski film, made right after Repulsion, was a shelf-project of the director and writer Gérard Brach. After the success of Repulsion they could resurrect this comedy the producers had rejected. Watch the film may strike the usual Polanski viewer (like myself) for the lack of sinister mood and plot so common in the works of the director. The film basically depict three completely different people stuck together in a old isolated castle, somewhere I read the film is a upside-down story of a knight saved from the princess by the dragon. A good definition of the film.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Cul de sac" sick Polanski, brilliant August 27, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
1966's Roman Polanski film, "Cul de sac" just got recognized by Criterion and the result is as well as expected. Donald Pleasence, Lionel Stander and Francoise Dorleac star in a film of unstable people. The film was made at just the right time in Polanski's career when it had been on the shelf and after "Repulsion" (1965) Polanski was able to pull it together. Written by Polanski and long-time collaborator Gerard Brach who worked with Dario Argento on his "Phantom of the Opera", one can not help but admire the creative talent at work, much better than "Repulsion"'s limited means, more perplexing than entertaining, but quite a good film nonetheless. Criterion did a good job as usual. I hope no one forgets the creativity that went into early Polanski films as they admire his later work. Though Polanski's world is a dark world and "Cul de sac" is no exception.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Empire 5 Star 500 - #126 October 28, 2012
Do we all have a breaking point? Cul-de-sac is a film from the early Roman Polanski cannon. It is a unique film and Polanski all the way.
It came out in 1966 and features a prime time Donald Pleasence. If you are a Pleasence fan, this is most certainty for you. Pleasence is one of the all time greatest movie madmen. In the story George (Donald Pleasence) and his wife Teresa (Françoise Dorléac) live on a remote island farm. It could potentially be the most peaceful place in the world if it wasn't for the constant bickering between the newly wed residents. Their house is stormed by a team of wounded criminals passing through post botched heist. One is seriously wounded and the other is seriously demanding. One of the criminals is a brutish American criminal named Richard (Lionel Stander). Richard takes the couple hostage and they clash in questionable, threatening, and often time humorous ways. The wife is so board she barely even cares. The husband is already on the edge of sanity and this situation does nothing to help his dire situation. The comedy in this film is blackened to a crisp in the charming 60s style.
Pleasence is submissive and humiliated throughout the film. He is trying to find the courage to fight back. His performance is striking, fearless, and human. One of the main features of Cul-de-sac is the beautiful locale. Overall, the film is really pretty simple and very effective. It is a human situation that spirals into madness. This is a deeper Polanski cut. This film may remind you that we are all not far from craziness. Polanski, Plesence, and the rest of the cast in Cul-de-sac were not afraid to remind us of this uncomfortable fact.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Polanski's Jewel July 8, 2008
The unavailability of this flick in DVD is proof of just how under rated this early Polanski masterpiece remains.
Cul de Sac is the second major feature of the Polish director produced and filmed away from his motherland, a condition that would so decisively mark the character of all his films. The human condition with all it's drama and comedy is portrayed with constant scrutiny into deeper and deeper layers of the human psyche. Obsession, Perversion, brutality or silliness begin to be addressed here and would later become recurring themes all the way into his blockbuster features. In removing the rug under our feet Polanski is a Master and by setting up the simplest yet most delirious situations Cul de Sac would be in my opinion the peak of his creative force. It deals with the awkward intrusion of two gangsters into the life of a couple with marital issues which results in something like Bergman meets Film Noir. One of cinema's true Jewels still awaiting for a proper reception from both audiences and critics. Incredible that no US version exists! Just imports like this Mexican version.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for Katelbach
Released in 1966 right after Repulsion, Cul-de-sac is Roman Polanski's third feature film and one of his favorites according to his autobiography. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Film Buff
2.0 out of 5 stars did not care for it (spoilers)...
will try viewing again, just to be fair. what I dislike is writer had no sense of structure or what I need as an audience. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Stacy Hackney (formerly customerS)
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Polanski
Pleasance is great in one of his early roles along with Catherine Denurve's sister (who was supposedly going to be a big star, but left us early). :( (the Polanski curse) :o
Published 9 months ago by Sjur03
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Too slow and boring! I think the cast and crew had a great time at our expense!
Very dated and boring
Published 14 months ago by Helen Summerbread
2.0 out of 5 stars Polanski's least rewarding flick.
Criterion quality on image and sound. Pity the film does not have the substance to justify this production. Read more
Published 20 months ago by L. J. Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars As ever from Criterion a superb transfer!
The quality of this blu-ray is outstanding as you would expect from Criterion. Good extras too. This is one of Polanski's best films in my opinion, a real gem and it looks... Read more
Published on July 17, 2012 by Robert
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible! Don't waste your money
This is a movie that has no point. Polanski always had a twisted and sick mind, but this movie is total garbage. Violence for nothing and poorly done. Read more
Published on June 16, 2012 by zeus
4.0 out of 5 stars holy mountain
Cul-De-Sac is a total original offbeat something or other that defies description but remains delightful, charming, gritty, and unpredictable. Read more
Published on February 28, 2012 by Russell E. Scott
Roman Polanski's 1966 darkly comic thriller is about Dickie and Albie, two wounded punks who have sought refuge in the isolated seaside castle of aging, meek Englishman George and... Read more
Published on October 20, 2011 by Robin Simmons
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best, if not the best
The Good Films:
Bitter Moon
Fearless Vampire Killers

The Bad Films:
Knife in the Water... Read more
Published on August 23, 2011 by Karl Ericsson
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