Sacha Guitry

La poison

La poison

The writer, actor, and director Sacha Guitry emerged from the theater to become one of France’s best-known and most inventive filmmakers, and La poison marked his first major collaboration with another titan of the screen, the incomparably expressive Michel Simon. With Guitry’s witty dialogue and fleet pacing, this black comedy is the quintessential depiction of a marriage gone sour: after thirty years together, a village gardener (Simon) and his wife (Germaine Reuver) find themselves contemplating how to do away with each other, with the former even planning how he’ll negotiate his eventual criminal trial. Inspired by Guitry’s own post–World War II tangle with the law—a wrongful charge of collaborationism—La poison is a blithely caustic broadside against the French legal system and a society all too eager to capitalize on the misfortunes of others.

Film Info

  • Sacha Guitry
  • France
  • 1951
  • 85 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • French
  • Spine #891

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with filmmaker Olivier Assayas on writer-director Sacha Guitry’s influence on French cinema
  • Sixty-minute episode of Cinéastes de notre temps from 1965 featuring interviews with some of Guitry’s collaborators
  • On Life On-screen: Miseries and Splendour of a Monarch, a sixty-minute documentary from 2010 on the collaboration of Guitry and actor Michel Simon
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau and a tribute to Guitry by filmmaker François Truffaut

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with filmmaker Olivier Assayas on writer-director Sacha Guitry’s influence on French cinema
  • Sixty-minute episode of Cinéastes de notre temps from 1965 featuring interviews with some of Guitry’s collaborators
  • On Life On-screen: Miseries and Splendour of a Monarch, a sixty-minute documentary from 2010 on the collaboration of Guitry and actor Michel Simon
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau and a tribute to Guitry by filmmaker François Truffaut
La poison
Cast
Michel Simon
Paul Braconnier
Jean Debucourt
Louis Aubanel
Pauline Carton
The shopkeeper
Jacques Varennes
The prosecutor
Jeanne Fusier-Gir
The florist
Jean Duvaleix
The priest
Georges Bever
The pharmacist
Germaine Reuver
Blandine Braconnier
Credits
Director
Sacha Guitry
Written by
Sacha Guitry
Cinematography by
Jean Bachelet
Produced by
Paul Wagner
Music and songs by
Louiguy
Edited by
Raymond Lamy
Production design by
Robert Dumesnil

From The Current

Olivier Assayas on the Magic of Late-Career Guitry
Olivier Assayas on the Magic of Late-Career Guitry

Late in his career, iconic French filmmaker Sacha Guitry reoriented his style by collaborating with the legendary actor Michel Simon for the pitch-black comedy La poison.

Inside Criterion / Sneak Peeks — Aug 29, 2017
La poison—or, How to Kill Your Wife
La poison—or, How to Kill Your Wife

French cinema titan Sacha Guitry brings a savage misanthropy to this exploration of a toxic marriage and the arbitrariness of the legal system.

By Ginette Vincendeau

On Film / Essays — Aug 22, 2017