7.1/10
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19 user 3 critic

The Scapegoat (1959)

An English schoolteacher meets his lookalike, a French count; and unwillingly swaps identities with him.

Director:

Robert Hamer

Writers:

Daphne Du Maurier (novel), Robert Hamer (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Alec Guinness ... John Barratt / Jacques De Gue
Bette Davis ... Countess
Nicole Maurey ... Bela
Irene Worth ... Francoise
Pamela Brown Pamela Brown ... Blanche
Annabel Bartlett Annabel Bartlett ... Marie-Noel
Geoffrey Keen ... Gaston
Noel Howlett ... Dr. Aloin
Peter Bull ... Aristide
Leslie French Leslie French ... Lacoste
Alan Webb Alan Webb ... Inspector
Maria Britneva ... Maid
Eddie Byrne ... Barman
Alexander Archdale Alexander Archdale ... Gamekeeper
Peter Sallis ... Customs Official
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Storyline

On a vacation in France from his nondescript job and life, John Barratt encounters a titled but impoverished French nobleman who looks exactly like him. The nobleman gets John drunk, and switches places with him to take a breather from his failing business and too-complicated life. John tries to convince everyone he is not who they think he is, but he begins to get more and more involved with the count's family, including an unhappy wife, domineering mother, lonely but talented young daughter, bitter spinster sister and the expected mistress. As John gets to know them he feels he can help them with their problems, but is also becoming used to his borrowed life, which has given him a purpose for the first time. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He took another man's name... lived another man's life... loved another man's woman! See more »


Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 August 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Sündenbock See more »

Filming Locations:

France See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$943,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$570,000, 31 December 1959

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,195,000, 31 December 1959
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Du Maurier-Guinness See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was a very troubled production. Writer and Director Robert Hamer was struggling with the alcoholism which would eventually kill him only a few years later, and had so much difficulty with Bette Davis that he had several lapses during filming, with only the support and kindness of his friend Sir Alec Guinness (who had insisted on him as director) getting him through the ordeal. Davis, whose career was in a major slump, was angry at being restricted to a cameo and was unpleasant to everyone on-set. Guinness later commented that her legendary professionalism was "largely a myth". Daphne Du Maurier, the author of the original novel, had also created difficulties by interfering with the filming and offering complaints at perceived deviations from her original story. MGM had no faith in the movie and extensively re-edited it after shooting was completed, also imposing a score which Hamer did not want composed by studio veteran Bronislau Kaper. See more »

Goofs

The 1950 Delahaye 135 MS Cabriolet belonging to Jean is made in France and has Paris plates but the steering wheel is on the right, indicating an export model for England or other countries that drive on the left. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Customs Official: You have the intention of staying long in France, Mr. Barratt?
John Barratt: I don't know. That is to say that I didn't know there was any restriction apart from the question of money.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown over various images of the book by Daphne Du Maurier. See more »

Connections

Version of The Scapegoat (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Very English view of Death
20 October 2013 | by l_rawjalaurenceSee all my reviews

Based on a Daphne du Maurier source-text, THE SCAPEGOAT is very much in the tradition established by Hamer's more famous earlier film KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS (1949), also starring Guinness. In this film Guinness plays two roles; that of a mild-mannered university teacher whose identity is stolen by a rakish French aristocrat. The university teacher takes over the aristocrat's life, and proves rather good at it; so much so that he does not want to recover his old life when the aristocrat asks him to. The climax is a violent one. Hamer's film, although set in France, takes a particularly English approach to death; the performances are quietly understated, and the atmosphere of menace restrained. Bette Davis seems rather out of place in a cameo role as the aristocrat's mother; her grande dame performance, complete with rolling New England vowels, contrasts starkly with that of Guinness. The ending is a bit peremptory, betraying the fact that THE SCAPEGOAT was not without its production difficulties, especially when scriptwriter Gore Vidal had to deal with an increasingly alcoholic director. Nonetheless THE SCAPEGOAT is definitely worth a view, if only for Guinness' versatility as an actor.


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