Cul-de-sac (1966 film)  

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Cul-de-Sac is a 1966 British psychological thriller directed by the Polish director Roman Polański. It was Polański's second film in English, written by himself and Gérard Brach.

The cast includes Donald Pleasence, Françoise Dorléac, Lionel Stander, Jack MacGowran, Iain Quarrier, Geoffrey Sumner, Renee Houston, William Franklyn, Trevor Delaney, Marie Kean. It also features Jacqueline Bisset in a small role, in her second film appearance. The black and white cinematography is by Gil Taylor.


Gruff American gangster Dickey pushes his broken-down car along a causeway through rising seawater while his eccentric companion Albie lies inside, bleeding from a gunshot wound after a bungled robbery. Cut off by the unexpected rising tide, they are on the only road to a bleak and remote tidal island (Lindisfarne in Northumberland), where, in a dark castle on a hilltop, a deeply neurotic and effeminate middle-aged Englishman named George lives with his second wife, the young and promiscuous Teresa. Dickey breaks into the house and telephones his underworld boss, Katelbach, to send someone to get him and Albie. He then disconnects the phone lines and proceeds to hold the couple hostage while awaiting the arrival of Katelbach the next day.

When Albie dies from his injuries, Dickey forces Teresa and George to dig his grave. They then hold a wake, with Dickey and George getting drunk together on the beach while Teresa swims nude in the ocean. The next morning, a car approaches the castle — but instead of Katelbach, it turns out to be some of George's obnoxious friends who have showed up at the castle unannounced. Dickey poses as a servant while Teresa begins to flirt with one of the guests, Cecil, and George does his best to get rid of the guests as quickly as possible. Cecil leaves quickly, forgetting his hunting rifle in the hall; however, it is unloaded and there is no ammunition for it, rendering it useless.

Teresa steals Dickey's pistol from his coat pocket and gives it to George. Dickey eventually gets word that his boss Katelbach is not going to come and prepares to take George's car to drive to the mainland by causeway. George refuses, and a fight ensues. George fatally shoots Dickey with his own gun. Before dying, Dickey manages to retrieve his tommy gun from his broken-down car, which he had hidden away in the chicken house. Too weak to fire the gun at George, Dickey collapses to the ground and the automatic discharge from the weapon causes George's car to explode in flames. Fearful of being implicated in the killing (and of possible reprisals from Katelbach's other henchmen), Teresa frantically insists that she and George abandon the castle together. But George is in a state of shock and seems unable to move. Suddenly, they hear a car approaching. Not knowing that Dickey's boss had abandoned him, they assume it is Katelbach. Desperate and afraid, Teresa runs off by herself and hides in a closet. The car arrives, and it turns out to be Cecil, who had returned to retrieve his rifle. Cecil offers to take them to the police, but George refuses to go. He watches as Cecil and Teresa drive off into the night, leaving George in his ruined castle with his car still on fire.

Now utterly alone, George goes on a rampage, running out of the house and down to the beach. As day breaks, he finally sits down on a rock in the fetal position and weeps hysterically, shouting out the name of his first wife, as the early morning tide rises around him.

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