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The Executioner (1963)

El verdugo (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Comedy | 13 March 1964 (Italy)
An undertaker gets married to an old executioner's daughter and, although he doesn't like it, must continue the profession of his father-in-law after his retirement.

Director:

(as Luis Gª. Berlanga)

Writers:

(story) (as Luis Gª Berlanga), (story) | 3 more credits »
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4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
José Luis Rodríguez, el enterrador
...
Carmen, la hija de Amadeo
...
Amadeo, el verdugo (as Jose Isbert)
...
Antonio Rodríguez, el hermano mayor de José Luis (as Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez)
...
Álvarez, el enterrador (as Angel Alvarez)
Guido Alberti ...
Director de la prisión
...
Mujer visitante de la obra nº 2
...
Estefanía (as Maria Luisa Ponte)
...
Ignacia (as Maria Isbert)
...
San Martín
...
Guarda de la obra
...
Marqués (as Jose Orjas)
...
Funcionario de prisiones (as Jose Maria Prada)
...
Organista (as Felix Fernandez)
...
Funcionario de prisiones
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Storyline

The history starts with the main character (an old executioner in the Spain of early 60's) approaching retirement age. As his profession is not exactly what you could call "popular", he (a very gentle and nice man, caring, and proud of traditions) begins to worry about who might take his place when he retires. He has a daughter, but, unfortunately, she seems doomed to perpetual "spinsterhood": as soon as any prospective groom learns about her dad and her dad's "trade", he runs away from her, scared. A sad life... However, a new character enters: the local undertaker, a handsome and young man who has exactly the same problem... No girl wants him given his profession. So, you have the woman whom almost nobody would marry and the man whom almost nobody would marry. Obviously, they are meant for each other. But here the old executioner has something to say: He does not object to her daughter marrying the young undertaker; he seems a decent man, and all that... But there is a condition: ... Written by Jose Beltran <pepe@prince.pe.u-tokyo.ac.jp>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

13 March 1964 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

The Executioner  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Italian censorship visa # 42151 delivered on 24-1-1964. See more »

Quotes

Woman in the book fair: [subtitled version] Have you got something about Bergman or Antonioni...?
Sr. Corcuera, el académico: Bergman... Bergman?
Woman in the book fair: Yes.
Sr. Corcuera, el académico: The actress...?
Woman in the book fair: No, no, it's not the actress...
See more »

Connections

References Ben-Hur (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

El verdugo
(twist)
Composed by Adolfo Waitzman
See more »

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User Reviews

 
one of the finest (and funniest) films to emerge from Spain
1 May 2017 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Fiercely funny and unapologetically black, "The Executioner" is among the most entertaining comedies that I have ever seen. Through morbid themes and distressing issues, this masterpiece of the macabre is one of Spanish cinema's many miracles. The pace is as fast as a speeding bullet as visionary filmmaker Luis Garcia Berlanga slyly mocks the heated controversy of capital punishment. Forcing its lead character to choose between traumatizing himself and living a life of poverty, Berlanga is masterfully able to turn transform tragedy into farce.

While the constant comedy may seem to some as no more than silly distraction from the social commentary, I sensed not only a consistent sense of farcical satire in the masterwork, but also a consistent sense of dread and awareness. The film can be split into two halves: the first being a slightly morbid, but utterly charming romantic comedy, and the second being a much more bleak work of direful, tragicomic satire. Many satires have the unfortunate flaw of paying much more attention to their message than the quality of their script, characters, and plot; "The Executioner" shares all of these traits. Beyond the black and social critiques, there are some highly likable characters and a flat-out amazing premise, satirical or not.

Chaotic, sad, and laugh-out-loud hilarious in equal measure, it is hard to determine whether "The Executioner" is a work that leaves an imprint of joy or sorrow. My reaction is one of both, for the ambiguous ending serves as both a punchline and a bone chilling reminder of the unpredictable tragedies hidden deep within the human experience.


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