A.V. Club - 08/24/2011
"[A]n affectionate goof on WAITING FOR GODOT, enhanced by an unforgettable setting that naturally severs the trio from contact with the outside world." -- Grade: B+
Film Comment - 09/01/2011
"[G]rimly fun mayhem ensues, and nature, whether it's human or earthly, overrides any progressive intention."
A somewhat surreal black comedy directed and coscripted by Roman Polanski, CUL-DE-SAC is the tale of a mismatched married couple, George and Teresa (Donald Pleasence and Françoise Dorléac), living in an isolated 11th-century castle near the ocean whose home is invaded by two gangsters on the run after an unsuccessful heist. Lionel Stander plays Dicky, a thug who attempts to save the life of his mortally wounded partner (Jack MacGowran) by enlisting the help of George and Teresa, then holds them captive in their own home as the group awaits the arrival of the mysterious Mr. Kattlebach, the gangsters' boss whom Dicky has contacted prior to cutting the phone line. The nubile young Teresa proves more resourceful than her ever-cringing husband as they try to come up with a plan for eluding their boorish captor; further complications arise, however, after an unexpected visit from an old school chum of George's, who arrives with an entourage of annoying family and friends. In spite of tensions that, as Polanski later reported, existed between him and his often less than cooperative stars, all three principals give fine performances, most notably Pleasence as the cuckolded, humiliated, and (as Dicky at one point proclaims) hopelessly "square" British WWII veteran George.
After two gangsters are wounded, they take refuge on a couple's private island. As the men's behavior gets more menacing while they wait to be rescued, the young and beautiful wife urges her fainthearted older husband to take some kind of action.
Theatrical Release |
Theatrical release: November 7, 1966.
Filmed on location on Holy Island, Northumberland, England.
The film won the Golden Bear at the 1966 Berlin Film Festival
Françoise Dorléac--the sister of actress Catherine Deneuve, who starred in Polanski's REPULSION--was tragically killed in a car accident in 1967.