The Scapegoat (1959 film)

Last updated

The Scapegoat
The Scapegoat, film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Hamer
Written byRobert Hamer
Gore Vidal
Based on The Scapegoat
1957 novel
by Daphne du Maurier
Produced by Michael Balcon
Starring Alec Guinness
Nicole Maurey
Bette Davis
Cinematography Paul Beeson
Edited by Jack Harris
Music by Bronislau Kaper
Color process Black and white
Du Maurier-Guinness
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • 6 August 1959 (1959-08-06)(US)
  • 30 August 1959 (1959-08-30)(UK)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$943,000 [1]
Box office$1,195,000 [1]

The Scapegoat is a 1959 British mystery film based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, and starring Alec Guinness, Nicole Maurey and Bette Davis. [2] [3]



John Barratt (Alec Guinness), a lonely, discontented teacher of French at a British university, vacations in France. There, by chance, he meets his double, French nobleman Jacques De Gué (Guinness again). They become acquainted. Barratt becomes drunk and accepts De Gué's invitation to share his hotel room. When he wakes up the next morning, Barratt finds himself alone in the room, with his clothes and passport missing. De Gué's chauffeur Gaston shows up to take his master home, and Barratt is unable to convince him that he is not the nobleman. Gaston calls Dr. Aloin, who diagnoses the Englishman as suffering from schizophrenia.

A bewildered Barratt allows himself to be taken to De Gué's chateau, where he meets "his" family: daughter Marie-Noel, wife Françoise, sister Blanche and formidable mother the Countess. None of them believe his story - it appears that De Gué is a malicious liar - so Barratt resigns himself to playing along. As time goes on, he feels needed, something missing in his sterile prior life.

The next day, brother-in-law Aristide discusses business with him. Later, in the nearby town, Barratt is nearly run down by De Gué's mistress, Béla, on her horse. He spends the usual Wednesday afternoon tryst getting acquainted with her. The next time they meet, before he can confess the truth, she informs him that she has already guessed it.

Barratt delves into the neglected family glass-making business. He decides to renew a contract with the local foundry, even on unfavourable terms, to avoid throwing the longtime employees out of work. The Countess is upset by his decision and mentions a marriage contract. When Barratt investigates, he learns that Françoise's considerable wealth, tied up by her businessman father, would come under his control if she were to die. Françoise finds him reading the contract and becomes very upset, accusing him of wanting to see her dead. Barratt consoles her by telling her that the contract can be changed. He begins to suspect the reason for De Gué's disappearance.

One day, Barratt receives a message from Béla. He goes to see her and spends a pleasant afternoon with her, though she denies having sent for him. When he returns to the chateau, he learns that Françoise has died from a fall. Blanche accuses Barratt of murder, stating that she overheard him with his wife in her room just before her death. However, Gaston provides an unshakable alibi, having driven Barratt to his rendezvous with Béla.

Barratt is not surprised when De Gué resurfaces shortly afterward. They meet in private; the Frenchman demands his identity back, but Barratt refuses. Both men have come armed and shots are exchanged. Barratt emerges victorious and returns to his new life and Béla.



According to Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies, the original choice for Barratt / De Gué was Cary Grant, but Daphne du Maurier insisted on Guinness because he reminded her of her father, actor Gerald du Maurier. [4] Later though, she regretted her choice, blaming Guinness for the film’s box-office failure, [4] a production that du Maurier herself had partially financed. [4]

Osborne also states that Guinness handled the directing chores when Hamer was drunk. [5]

Box office

According to MGM records, the film earned $570,000 in the U.S. and Canada and $625,000 elsewhere resulting in a loss of $382,000. [1]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daphne du Maurier</span> English novelist (1907–1989)

Dame Daphne du Maurier,, also known as Lady Browning after her husband was knighted in 1946, was an English novelist, biographer and playwright. Her parents were actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier and his wife, actress Muriel Beaumont. Her grandfather was George du Maurier, a writer and cartoonist.

<i>Bunny Lake Is Missing</i> 1965 film by Otto Preminger

Bunny Lake Is Missing is a 1965 British-American psychological drama film, directed and produced by Otto Preminger. Filmed in black-and-white widescreen format in London, it was based on the 1957 novel Bunny Lake Is Missing by Merriam Modell. It stars Carol Lynley as a mother searching for her missing daughter, Keir Dullea as her brother, and Laurence Olivier as the police officer investigating the case. The score is by Paul Glass and the opening theme is often heard as a refrain. The rock band the Zombies also appear in the film, in a television broadcast.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sylvia Llewelyn Davies</span>

Sylvia Llewelyn Davies was the mother of the boys who were the inspiration for the stories of Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. She was the daughter of cartoonist and writer George du Maurier and his wife Emma Wightwick, the elder sister to actor Gerald du Maurier, the aunt of novelists Angela and Daphne du Maurier, and a great-granddaughter of Mary Anne Clarke, royal mistress of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany.

<i>The Captains Paradise</i> 1953 film by Anthony Kimmins

The Captain's Paradise is a 1953 British comedy film produced and directed by Anthony Kimmins, and starring Alec Guinness, Yvonne De Carlo and Celia Johnson. Guinness plays the captain of a passenger ship that travels regularly between Gibraltar and Spanish Morocco. De Carlo plays his Moroccan wife and Johnson plays his British wife. The film begins at just before the end of the story, which is then told in a series of flashbacks.

<i>The Scapegoat</i> (Du Maurier novel) 1957 novel by Daphne du Maurier

The Scapegoat is a 1957 novel by Daphne du Maurier. In 1959, it was made into a film of the same name, starring Sir Alec Guinness. It was also the basis of a film broadcast in 2012 starring Matthew Rhys and written and directed by Charles Sturridge.

<i>Le jour se lève</i> 1939 French film directed by Marcel Carné

Le jour se lève is a 1939 French film directed by Marcel Carné and written by Jacques Prévert, based on a story by Jacques Viot. It is considered one of the principal examples of the French film movement known as poetic realism.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Françoise de Foix</span>

Françoise de Foix, Comtesse de Châteaubriant was a chief mistress of Francis I of France.

<i>Les ptites Michu</i>

Les p'tites Michu is an opérette in three acts, with music by André Messager and words by Albert Vanloo and Georges Duval. The piece is set in Paris in the years following the French Revolution and depicts the complications ensuing after the identities of two girls become confused in their infancy.

<i>Me and the Colonel</i> 1958 film by Peter Glenville

Me and the Colonel is a 1958 American comedy film based on the play Jacobowsky und der Oberst by Franz Werfel. It was directed by Peter Glenville and stars Danny Kaye, Curd Jürgens and Nicole Maurey.

A scapegoat is a goat used in a religious ritual or the victim of scapegoating, the singling out of a party for unmerited blame.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nicole Maurey</span> French actress

Nicole Maurey was a French actress, who appeared in 65 film and television productions between 1945 and 1997.

Joan of Artois, Countess of Foix, Viscountess of Béarn, was a French noblewoman, and the wife of Gaston I de Foix, Count of Foix, Viscount of Béarn. From 1331 to 1347 she was imprisoned by her eldest son on charges of scandalous conduct, dissolution, and profligacy.

<i>The Devil and the Ten Commandments</i> 1963 French film

Le Diable et les Dix Commandements is a French film from 1962 directed by Julien Duvivier that consists of seven sketches played by an ensemble cast that includes Michel Simon, Micheline Presle, Françoise Arnoul, Mel Ferrer, Charles Aznavour, Lino Ventura, Fernandel, Alain Delon, Danielle Darrieux, Jean-Claude Brialy, and Louis de Funès.

The Scapegoat is a British film adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's 1957 novel of the same name. The drama is written and directed by Charles Sturridge and stars Matthew Rhys as lookalike characters John Standing and Johnny Spence. It was broadcast on ITV on 9 September 2012.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Georges Rivière</span> French actor

Georges Aristide Claude Félix Rivière is a French retired actor who worked in Argentine cinema in the 1950s. He appeared in nearly 50 films between 1948 and 1970.

<i>Journal of a Crime</i> 1934 film by William Keighley

Journal of a Crime is a 1934 American pre-Code crime drama film produced by First National Pictures. It was directed by William Keighley and stars Ruth Chatterton, Adolphe Menjou and Claire Dodd. The film is a remake of the 1933 French film Une vie perdue, written by Jacques Deval.

<i>La Chasse à lhomme</i> 1964 film

La chasse à l'homme is a 1964 French-Italian comedy film directed by Édouard Molinaro and starring Jean-Paul Belmondo.

<i>A Majority of One</i> (film) 1961 American film by Mervyn LeRoy

A Majority of One is a 1961 American comedy film directed by Mervyn LeRoy, starring Rosalind Russell and Alec Guinness. It was adapted from the play of the same name by Leonard Spigelgass, which was a Broadway hit in the 1959-1960 season, starring Gertrude Berg and Cedric Hardwicke.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Berthe Cerny</span> French actress

Berthe Cerny was a French actress, known as an elegant blonde beauty. She had a brilliant career, interpreting both classical and contemporary roles. She had several affairs, including with the politicians Aristide Briand and Paul Reynaud, and had two illegitimate sons by other lovers. She joined the Comédie-Française in 1906 and became a sociétaire in 1909.

<i>The New Commandment</i> (film) 1925 film

The New Commandment is a 1925 American silent drama film directed by Howard Higgin and written by Sada Cowan and Howard Higgin. It is based on the 1925 novel Invisible Wounds by Frederick Palmer. The film stars Blanche Sweet, Ben Lyon, Holbrook Blinn, Clare Eames, Effie Shannon, and Dorothy Cumming. The film was released on November 1, 1925, by First National Pictures.


  1. 1 2 3 The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. "The Scapegoat (1959)".
  3. Goble, Alan (1 January 1999). The Complete Index to Literary Sources in Film. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN   9783110951943 via Google Books.
  4. 1 2 3 "The Scapegoat (1959) - Articles -". Turner Classic Movies.
  5. "The Scapegoat (1959) - Notes -". Turner Classic Movies.