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A gold digger persuades her older lover to murder for her.
One evening at a Paris nightclub, antique furniture dealer Landru is so entranced by singer Odette's sultry numbers that he invites her to his table. At closing time, Odette, believing the suave gentleman is wealthy, asks Landru to her apartment, where she receives a call from her mother requesting 5,000 francs for an operation. Unknown to Landru, Odette's boyfriend Pepi has placed the call to entice Landru into giving Odette cash. After Landru gives Odette 2,000 francs and promises more money later, Odette sleeps with him. The next day, despite his attempts to get more money, Landru returns empty-handed to Odette's apartment, where she rejects him. Later, Landru, desperate to keep Odette as his mistress, answers widower Vivienne Dureaux's advertisement to sell her furniture, in hopes of making a commission on the resale. At her apartment, after he learns Vivienne wants 10,000 francs for her merchandise, Landru claims the type of furniture is not his specialty but offers to help her sell it. Vivienne is easily seduced by his genteel manners and, believing him to be a potential suitor, eagerly introduces him to her sister Giselle. Landru then attempts to sell the furniture on commission to dealer Lacoste, but Lacoste is not interested. Determined, Landru takes Vivienne to dinner and entices her with claims that he is a retired army colonel, but when Landru discovers she has sold the furniture to someone else, he bitterly tries to persuade her to give him the money to invest. Later, as they walk along a bridge, they continue arguing and the agitated Landru accidentally pushes Vivienne over a railing to her death, then takes her money, ring and keys and flees the scene. The next day, after the newspapers report an unidentified suicide victim has been found on the tracks, Landru sells Vivienne's furniture to another dealer and returns to Odette's apartment with the money and Vivienne's ring. Meanwhile, Giselle reports the disappearance of her sister and her furniture, but the police offer little help since she cannot remember Landru's name. Meanwhile, Landru shaves his beard, assumes a new name and tells Odette that he is going away on business to earn money for her. Overhearing middle-aged widow Julienne Guillin placing an advertisement for a husband, Landru introduces himself as a diplomat with an imminent assignment in Austria, easily wooing the woman into an affair. Days later, Landru, under an assumed name, rents an isolated forest villa near Gambais with a large stove for roasting game, and invites Julienne for the weekend. Julienne accepts and Landru buys two tickets, a return for himself and a one-way ticket for Julienne. After enjoying a romantic weekend, Julienne eagerly accepts Landru's marriage proposal and agrees to stay at the villa with her cat Max while he returns to London to arrange financial matters. Julienne then gives Landru a letter to her bank and keys to her apartment and asks him to send a letter to her friend with news of the engagement. That afternoon, Landru buys a handsaw and other supplies, noting each cost in his financial ledger, and then returns to the villa, burns the letter and drugs Julienne's sherry to kill her. After dismembering and burning Julienne's body, Landru returns to Paris, gains access to the money and then proposes to Odette, but she insists that he still cannot afford her. As the weeks go by, Landru easily seduces four more widows into accepting a marriage proposal, takes them to the villa to murder them, then accesses their wealth in order to supply Odette with minks, jewels and money, while taking copious notes of the expenses in his ledger. Meanwhile, after Giselle is unable to identify Landru using the police's criminal photo files, she describes her sister's furniture to dozens of antique dealers in hopes of finding Landru herself. When Landru deceives widow Jeanette at the villa and offers to attend to her financial matters in Paris, Jeanette insists on returning with him to the city, where she gives him her papers and deposit box key. After learning her married name, Landru stabs her with a kitchen knife, dismembers her and buries two suitcases with her remains at a construction site. Landru then presents himself as Jeanette's dead husband at her bank, where he empties her deposit box and overhears wealthy, mean-spirited widow Mme. Boyer arguing over access to her husband's account. Learning from a clerk that Boyer's husband left her and moved to Africa two years ago but has not granted her a divorce, Landru poses as an old friend of M. Boyer to win her confidence. He claims that her husband, whom he has just seen in Tunisia, owes him a gambling debt and is having an affair with a cousin, thus inflaming Madame Boyer's jealousy while subtly flirting with her. Intrigued, Madame Boyer invites him for drinks later to settle the debt, thus securing for Landru more money for Odette. When Landru returns to Odette's apartment with the money, he discovers Pepi and Odette in an amorous embrace and hears them joke about his gullibility. Seeking revenge, Landru invites Odette to the villa. Meanwhile, Giselle finally finds the dealer who bought her sister's furniture, which leads her to Landru's old apartment, where she bribes the landlord into telling her that Landru can be reached through the Gambais postmaster. Giselle then leaves a message for the police telling them that she is going to Gambais to find Landru. That night after Odette unwittingly foils Landru's attempts to poison her and then mocks his meticulous ledger, Landru launches into a tirade about what a bad investment she has been, announces her account is being "closed out" and bludgeons her to death. Meanwhile, Giselle arrives at the Gambais train station and learns from the stationmaster that a Parisian gentleman has moved into a nearby villa. Landru, having incinerated Odette in the stove, rushes to the train station, while Giselle takes a taxi to the villa. When no one answers the door, Giselle enters the house and searches for clues to her sister's disappearance. Meanwhile, Landru, alerted to Giselle's arrival by the station master, returns to the villa and finds Giselle upstairs in the dark with her sister's ring. As lightning illuminates the face of her sister's murderer, Giselle screams in horror. Landru grabs at the terrified woman, but Giselle flees downstairs, where the police commissioner and several officers have just arrived. When Landru escapes into the forest, a now feral Max attacks him, allowing the police to capture the murderer. Sentenced to death for his hideous crimes, Landru is soon executed by guillotine.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||London opening: Mar 1960; Los Angeles opening: May 1960|
|Release Date:||1960||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Domino Pictures Corp., Anglo-Allied Pictures, Ltd., Allied Artists Pictures Corp.|
|Duration(mins):||70, 90 or 92-93||Country:||Great Britain and United States|
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