Rent Cul-De-Sac (1966)

3.5 of 5 from 112 ratings
1h 47min
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Donald Pleasence and Francoise Dorleac play a mismatched couple - he effeminate and petulant, she sensual and enigmatic - who share a bizzare sexual relationship, living in a remote castle. Their very isolation from the world prevents their eccentric partnership from foundering. Only an outsider can disrupt their make-believe lifestyle. That disruption arrives in the belligerent form of Richard and Albert, two oddball gangsters straight out of a 1940's film noir, wounded, desperate and on the run. They demand shelter, and as Richard waits for instructions from his gangland boss, he slips into a dangerous round of gameplaying with his unwilling hosts.
But it seems that Richard is not always to have the upper hand. With its larger-than-life performances, wicked black humour and superb use of striking outdoor locations - the film was shot on Holy Island in Northumberland - Polanski has created an exceptional film which is very different to but no less memorable than Repulsion.
, , , , , , , , , , , Trevor Delaney
Gene Gutowski, Michael Klinger, Tony Tenser
Roman Polanski, Gérard Brach
Gilbert Taylor
Anchor Bay
Classics, Comedy, Drama, Thrillers
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1966 Berlinale Golden Bear

Release Date:
Run Time:
107 minutes
English DTS 5.1
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.78:1 / 16:9
B & W
  • Two gangsters and and island: Exclusive new documentary featuring interviews with Roman Polanski, Gil Taylor, Gene Gutowski and Tony Tenser
  • Liner notes and talent bios
  • Poster and stills gallery
Release Date:
Run Time:
111 minutes
English LPCM Mono
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.78:1 / 16:9
B & W
BLU-RAY Regions:
(0) All
  • Polanski's Polish Shorts: Murder; Toothful Smile; The Lamp; Let's Break the Ball; When the Angels Fall; The Mammal and Two Men and a Wardrobe
  • The Southbank Show - Interview with Roman Polanski
  • Russel Harty Interview with Roman Polanski
  • Clive James Meets Roman Polanski
  • 'Repulsion' Original Theatrical Trailer
  • 'Cul-De-Sac' Original Trailer
  • Trailers

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Reviews (1) of Cul-De-Sac

Black Comedy. - Cul-De-Sac review by Steve

Spoiler Alert

Offbeat black comedy which was a change of direction for Roman Polanski after his critical hit with Repulsion. Its most memorable aspect is the location shoot on grey, rainy Holy Island, Lindisfarne, including the sixteenth century castle, which gives the film a particular aura of end-of-the-world desolation.

There's the obvious influence of Harold Pinter in the caustic menace of the script. And a thread of absurdity. A pair of bankrobbers (Lionel Stander and Jack MacGowran) attempt to take refuge with a middle class couple (Donald Pleasance and Françoise Dorléac)- at gunpoint. But get entangled in the bitter conflict of their marriage.

While it's an original screenplay, there's the impression of a stage play barely opened up for the screen. Polanski would work on that smaller scale many times over the years. Once MacGowran has been buried in a shallow grave it's mostly a three hander with Pleasence the standout as an effete artist of rather vague accomplishments.

It's more eccentric than purely entertaining, but it is a thrill to witness the technique of a great director. There's a feeling of liberation in the virtuosity of Polanski's style, which includes a famous unbroken eight minute edit. But his best creative decision was to set the film in the windswept seclusion of the stark Northumbrian coast.

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