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

3.9 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Cul-De-Sac

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$28.01 & FREE Shipping on orders over $49. Details Only 7 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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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 Donald Pleasance (Halloween) and Françoise Dorléac (The Soft Skin) star as a withdrawn couple whose isolated house is infiltrated by a rude, burly American gangster on the run, played by Lionel Stander (Unfaithfully Yours).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.

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


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.)
  • 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 (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005152C6Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,204 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
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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Format: Blu-ray
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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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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Format: Blu-ray
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. In a world that acclaims Repulsion as being not only his masterpiece but also one of the greatest films ever made, it is revealing to read the great director dismissing his `greatest achievement' as a mere cash cow needed to fund the real labor of love that followed it. Cul-de-sac did win the Silver Bear at the 1966 Berlin film festival, but it's hardly accepted as a major work even today although it is good to see some positive posts here on Amazon. It flopped disastrously in the States and even in Europe it fell into the shadow cast by its predecessor. It's a shame really because I think in its own unique way it is rather wonderful. In fact all early Polanski is essential viewing, and Anchor Bay's 4 DVD set of Knife in the Water, Repulsion, Cul-de-sac and a selection of his bizarre short films from the late `50s would be self-recommending if it wasn't so expensive.

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.
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