Med Humanities 36:62-63 doi:10.1136/jmh.2010.003954
  • PostScript
  • Film review

Le tête contre les murs

Directed by Georges Franju. , France, 1959. DVD, Eureka Entertainment Ltd, 2009
  1. Peter Byrne
  1. Correspondence toDr Peter Byrne, Department of Psychological Medicine, Newham University Hospital, London E13 8SL, UK; p.byrne{at}


    François Gérane is a tearaway playboy who has defied his father, an eminent lawyer, blaming him for his mother's death. Over one night, he meets Stephanie who accompanies him to Paris where he fails to borrow to repay his gambling debts. He steals money from his father's study and at the same visit, burns irreplaceable legal papers that his father held there illegally. Wishing to avoid scandal, and because the crime lacked a motive (other than paternal hatred), his father commits him to the care of Dr Valmont, psychiatrist at a large public asylum. François is visited by Stephanie—the only person to stand by him during his incarceration. He fails to persuade either Dr Valmont or his father to relent, and attempts escape.

    The authors

    The actor who played François, Jean-Pierre Mocky, had adapted Hervé Bazin's novel set in 1934 France. Mocky wished to direct it himself but could not advance the project until he attached Franju (then 47) to his script. Franju was then both an establishment director with many highly-regarded documentaries behind him, and was admired by Cahiers du Cinéma critic-directors (Truffaut, Godard), themselves about to explode into world cinema. The film seems more contemporary than its source novel, but remains firmly in …