The Scapegoat (1959)

92 mins | Drama | August 1959

Director:

Robert Hamer

Writer:

Robert Hamer

Producer:

Michael Balcon

Cinematographer:

Paul Beeson

Editor:

Jack Harris

Production Designer:

Elliot Scott

Production Company:

Du Maurier-Guinness, Ltd.
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HISTORY

The opening and closing cast credits are presented in a slightly different order following Alec Guinness’ name. According to biographies of Guinness and Daphne Du Maurier, M-G-M hoped to cast Cary Grant in the lead, but Du Maurier had always envisioned Guinness playing the dual roles. The Guinness biography also mentions that the actor directed portions of the picture. HR casting charts add Gerald James to the cast, but his appearance in the film has not been confirmed. The film was shot on location in France and at M-G-M British Studios.
       According to information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, there was concern over allowing the "Countess's" drug addiction to remain in the film, as well as "Bela" clearly being "Jacques's" mistress and the suggestion that she becomes intimately involved with "John" as well. The PCA insisted that "Jacques's" murder was to be implied as self defense and a scripted scene that called for "John" to dispose of Jacques's body in the foundry furnace was excised at the PCA's behest.
       The film adaptation of The Scapegoat differed from Du Maurier's novel in several ways: In the book John's impersonation of Jacques lasts only one week and Jacques does not kill "Francoise," her death is legitimately accidental. As in both the book and the film, Jacques is interested in gaining his wife's inheritance, but in the book John convinces Jacques to realize his potential and to embrace his family before they are lost to him. Similarly, in the book, Jacques provides John the opportunity to start his ... More Less

The opening and closing cast credits are presented in a slightly different order following Alec Guinness’ name. According to biographies of Guinness and Daphne Du Maurier, M-G-M hoped to cast Cary Grant in the lead, but Du Maurier had always envisioned Guinness playing the dual roles. The Guinness biography also mentions that the actor directed portions of the picture. HR casting charts add Gerald James to the cast, but his appearance in the film has not been confirmed. The film was shot on location in France and at M-G-M British Studios.
       According to information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, there was concern over allowing the "Countess's" drug addiction to remain in the film, as well as "Bela" clearly being "Jacques's" mistress and the suggestion that she becomes intimately involved with "John" as well. The PCA insisted that "Jacques's" murder was to be implied as self defense and a scripted scene that called for "John" to dispose of Jacques's body in the foundry furnace was excised at the PCA's behest.
       The film adaptation of The Scapegoat differed from Du Maurier's novel in several ways: In the book John's impersonation of Jacques lasts only one week and Jacques does not kill "Francoise," her death is legitimately accidental. As in both the book and the film, Jacques is interested in gaining his wife's inheritance, but in the book John convinces Jacques to realize his potential and to embrace his family before they are lost to him. Similarly, in the book, Jacques provides John the opportunity to start his life over as he has impersonated John in England and caused several changes in John's life. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Aug 1959.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jul 59
p. 3.
Film Daily
29 Jul 59
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1958
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jul 1958
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Aug 1958
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jul 59
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Jul 59
p. 348.
New York Times
7 Aug 59
p. 28.
Variety
22 Jul 59
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Adpt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Spec photog eff
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Dress des
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Prod mgr
Continuity
STAND INS
Humming voice double for Alec Guinness
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Scapegoat by Daphne Du Maurier (London, 1957).
DETAILS
Release Date:
August 1959
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 6 August 1959
Production Date:
mid June--early August 1958 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Boreham Wood, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
Du Maurier-Guinness, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
31 December 1958
Copyright Number:
LP14367
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
92
Length(in feet):
8,289
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19160
SYNOPSIS

Englishman John Barratt, a French-language teacher at a small college, takes his annual holiday in France, where he reflects on his lonely, futile existence. Late in the evening of his first vacation day, John grows disconcerted when a man begins following him and ducks into a small pub. Moments later, he receives a shock when the man from the street appears and his features match John’s identically. John agrees to have drinks with the man, who introduces himself as Jacques De Gué, a titled land-owner of the chateau St. Gilles, where he runs a failing family glass-making business. Unaccustomed to drinking, John soon reveals that he is single, with no family and frustrated with the purposelessness of his life. Learning that John has not arranged accommodations, Jacques suggests that he might find a room at his hotel. Upon reaching the hotel, Jacques tells John there are no extra rooms and invites him to share his accommodation. Although somewhat drunk, John agrees, then accepts champagne from Jacques who has, unknown to John, slipped a sleeping draught into the drink. The next morning, John awakens to find himself, dressed in unfamiliar pajamas and discovers that Jacques is gone. When Gaston, the De Gué family chauffeur arrives, John demands to know Jacques’s whereabouts and upon discovering that his passport is missing, insists that Gaston summon the police to have Jacques found. Instead, Gaston telephones St. Gilles and on advice of Dr. Aloin, the family physician, Gaston tells John that Jacques has asked to meet him at St. Gilles. John agrees, but when he arrives at the chateau, is angered when Dr. ... +


Englishman John Barratt, a French-language teacher at a small college, takes his annual holiday in France, where he reflects on his lonely, futile existence. Late in the evening of his first vacation day, John grows disconcerted when a man begins following him and ducks into a small pub. Moments later, he receives a shock when the man from the street appears and his features match John’s identically. John agrees to have drinks with the man, who introduces himself as Jacques De Gué, a titled land-owner of the chateau St. Gilles, where he runs a failing family glass-making business. Unaccustomed to drinking, John soon reveals that he is single, with no family and frustrated with the purposelessness of his life. Learning that John has not arranged accommodations, Jacques suggests that he might find a room at his hotel. Upon reaching the hotel, Jacques tells John there are no extra rooms and invites him to share his accommodation. Although somewhat drunk, John agrees, then accepts champagne from Jacques who has, unknown to John, slipped a sleeping draught into the drink. The next morning, John awakens to find himself, dressed in unfamiliar pajamas and discovers that Jacques is gone. When Gaston, the De Gué family chauffeur arrives, John demands to know Jacques’s whereabouts and upon discovering that his passport is missing, insists that Gaston summon the police to have Jacques found. Instead, Gaston telephones St. Gilles and on advice of Dr. Aloin, the family physician, Gaston tells John that Jacques has asked to meet him at St. Gilles. John agrees, but when he arrives at the chateau, is angered when Dr. Aloin does not believe his explanations about Jacques’s disappearance and suggests that John is suffering from emotional duress. John is then flustered by the warm greeting from Jacques’s young daughter, Marie-Noel, who believes him to be her father. When Marie-Noel reveals that her bedridden grandmother is anxious to see him, John follows her to Jacques’s mother’s room. There, he is surprised by the Countess De Gué’s affectionate welcome, which gradually turns into an emotional outburst when the Countess demands a mysterious present from Paris. With the help of a maid, John goes through Jacques’s suitcase and discovers several gifts, one of which holds several vials of morphine, which the maid promptly takes to the Countess. Uneasy, John finds his way to the drawing room where he is met by Jacques’s wife, Françoise and his sister, Blanche, who have been advised by Dr. Aloin of John’s story. John greets them pleasantly, but becomes alarmed when Blanche stalks out of the room and Françoise accuses him of cruelty. Confused, John flees outside, wondering how to deal with his predicament and is calmed by a chat with the precocious Marie-Noel. John spends the night in indecision, but, intrigued by the De Gué family, finally resolves to say nothing further of his true identity. At breakfast, John meets Jacques’s brother-in-law, Aristide, who asks John about business discussions in Paris. Françoise, Blanche and Marie-Noel are confused by John’s amiable, pleasant manner and interest in them. When John asks if he might inspect the foundry, the family members are bewildered. Marie-Noel then reminds John that he must drive her to her weekly music lesson in the nearby town of Villars and John plays a game with her in order to learn the directions there. Strolling in town, John wonders about Jacques’s purpose for switching places with him, when he is nearly trampled by a horse ridden by an attractive woman, Bela. After speaking with Bela, John soon realizes that the affable woman is intimately acquainted with Jacques. John accepts Bela’s invitation to tea at her small home and enjoys her company. Back at St. Gilles, John goes through Jacques’s business papers and learns that Jacques has not visited the foundry in fourteen years. Later at the foundry, when pressed by the workers, John acknowledges that Jacques has not renewed their major contract. John then meets with the Countess to announce that he intends to renew the business contract even at unfavorable terms, rather than allowing the business to fail and put long-time employees out of work. Startled, his mother criticizes his decision and mentions a clause in a family contract that piques John’s curiosity. John finds the contract, drawn up upon Jacques’s marriage to the wealthy Françoise, which declares that should there be no male heir upon Françoise’s death, her substantial wealth would pass to her daughter or her daughter’s guardian, should she be underage. Françoise visits John and, disturbed to find him reading the contract, breaks down, declaring that Jacques has never loved her. Alarmed by Françoise’s distress, John calms her by insisting the contract can be changed. John continues his masquerade at St. Gilles over the next several days and visits Bela again on his next trip to Villars. When John attempts to tell her the truth about himself, Bela admits she knew at once that he was not Jacques because his manner was so different. Relieved to find Bela sympathetic, John tells her about himself and the strange meeting with Jacques. Back at St. Gilles, John panics when he learns of a hunt set for the following day and of Jacques’ reputation as a crack shot. To avoid participating, John deliberately burns his shooting hand at the foundry. One day some three weeks after the masquerade began, Gaston takes John aside to relay a summons from Bela. When John arrives at Bela’s, however, she claims that she did not send for him but the two enjoy the afternoon together. Later, when Gaston drives John back to St. Gilles, they find a police investigator and Dr. Aloin there. The doctor informs John that Françoise has died after falling from her second-story window. At the inquest held at the chateau the next day, the Countess testifies that she was the last person to see Françoise alive. Blanche intercedes to declare that she overheard Jacques in Françoise’s room and accuses him of murder. Gaston contradicts Blanche with his testimony of driving John to and from Villars. Realizing that Jacques intended John to be the scapegoat so that he could murder his wife for her money, John is not surprised when later he receives a call from Jacques to meet him that evening at the foundry. There, John berates Jacques for murdering his wife, then informs him that he refuses to give up his masquerade, believing he can help the family. Jacques scorns John’s sentiment and at gunpoint demands that he depart. Unknown to Jacques, John has a gun and kills Jacques. The following morning, John goes to Bela to reveal that fate has decreed they remain together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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