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Cul-de-sac (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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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
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Thompson
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Cul-de-sac is undeniably an odd affair. Co-written by Polanski with Gérard Brach, it's a mixture of gangster flick and jet black comedy related in a style reminiscent of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter which makes for a film which is difficult to pigeon-hole. Think The Petrified Forest (1936, Archie Mayo), Key Largo (1948, John Huston) and The Desperate Hours (1955, William Wyler) crossed with Waiting for Godot and The Birthday Party, and you might get close to describing Polanski's exploration of themes that became obsessive for him across all his films - especially sexual repression, gender games, psychological retardation and the tendency of human beings to assert themselves by destroying those around them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We had a chance to see some of the scenery of Holy Island, but the movie itself was rather strange.Published 3 days ago by Judi
Roman Polanski's "Cul-de-Sac" (1966) is one of the most superbly realized blendings of black comedy and psychological thriller in film history - and a masterly example of... Read morePublished 6 months ago by TheNoomz83
An honest squire and his wife find themselves abducted by two gangsters. Striking contrast between this refined lord and the brutal and the disgusting manners of his unwanted... Read morePublished 8 months ago by dimitriweb [this reviewer has been added to the top 10 (see more)]
Easily one of the best films ever made; and I bet you hardly even knew about it! Maybe it's because we're all...mentally retiring, or somethin'.Published 15 months ago by Kyle Harley
I had never heard of this movie until I saw it at amazon, and it starred Donald Pleasence and Lionel Stander. Read morePublished 16 months ago by John
Nice Criterion dvd of this film. I only wish there were more extras on here. Overall the sound and picture are good, but then again it's black and white so it's hard to make a... Read morePublished 17 months ago by pianoguy87
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 morePublished on June 20, 2014 by Stacy Hackney (formerly customerS)