This Man Must Die
|This Man Must Die|
American film poster
|Directed by||Claude Chabrol|
|Produced by||André Génovès|
|Written by||Claude Chabrol
|Based on||The Beast Must Die by Nicholas Blake|
|Music by||Pierre Jansen|
|Edited by||Jacques Gaillard|
|Distributed by||Allied Artists Pictures Corporation (USA)|
|5 September 1969|
This Man Must Die (French: Que la bête meure), American title The Beast Must Die, is a 1969 French and Italian thriller film directed by Claude Chabrol. The story is based on a 1938 novel by Cecil Day-Lewis, writing as Nicholas Blake, The Beast Must Die. The film had a total of 1,092,910 admissions in France.
A high-powered car races through the French countryside. A young woman is in the passenger seat. It enters a small village at speed.
Charles Thénier's nine year old son, returning from the beach, is run over at speed and the driver continues on without stopping.
Charles vows to have his revenge, keeping a note of his thoughts in a journal.
The police investigation is fruitless. Charles thinks the guilty party may run a garage as there is no record of a car going in for repair. Partly following his hunches and partly by chance he discovers that actress Hélène Lanson was the passenger in the car.
He seduces her under a false name as part of his revenge plan, and discovers that the real killer is her brother-in-law Paul Decourt, a man detestable even to his own family. He contrives for Hélène and himself "to visit the family" in Brittany, to further his plot.
While Charles is left with conflicting thoughts as to whether or not he will kill him, consciously saving him from a cliff-fall, Paul's teenage son, Phillipe, confides in him his own wishes to see his father dead.
Hélène confesses that she once slept with Paul but although Charles presses her for further confessions she does not confess the accident, though she is clearly thinking of it.
Charles decides to kill Paul in a faked boating accident and buys a yacht for the purpose. However Paul pulls a gun on him and reveals that he has read his journal and knows his plot. He has passed the journal to his solicitor to read should something happen to him.
Charles appears to give up and drives off with Hélène. In a roadside cafe the TV announces the death of Paul Decourt in a poisoning, and appeals for Charles to return, which they do.
He announces to the police that it would be foolhardy to kill Paul when he knew the journal would reach them (which it has). But they conclude this to be a double bluff and arrest him. However, Paul's son enters and confesses.
Back at their hotel, Charles is weary and promises to tell Hélène the entire story the next day. He leaves a confession on the pillow stating that the son's misplaced fatherly love for Charles had caused him to confess but Charles could not let this happen, it was he who killed Paul. He must sail off never to be seen again. His confession probably lets the son off and reopens the issue but it remains ambiguous as to which of the two did the act.
- Michel Duchaussoy as Charles Thenier
- Caroline Cellier as Helene Lanson
- Jean Yanne as Paul Decourt
- Anouk Ferjac as Jeanne Decourt
- Marc Di Napoli as Phillippe Decourt
- Louise Chevalier as Madame Levenes
- Dominique Zardi as Police Inspector