The Executioner (1963 film)

The Executioner (Spanish: El Verdugo) is a 1963 Spanish black comedy film directed by Luis García Berlanga. It was filmed in black and white, and is widely considered a classic of Spanish cinema. The film won several awards, both in Spain and internationally.

The Executioner
Directed byLuis García Berlanga
Produced byNaga Films
Zebra Films
Screenplay byLuis García Berlanga
Rafael Azcona
Ennio Flaiano
Story byLuis García Berlanga
Rafael Azcona
StarringNino Manfredi
Pepe Isbert
Emma Penella
José Luis López Vázquez
Music byMiquel Asins Arbó
CinematographyTonino Delli Colli
Edited byAlfonso Santacana
Release date
  • 1963 (1963)
Running time
90 minutes


Amadeo, an executioner in Madrid, meets José Luis, a funeral parlour employee who is going to pick up the prisoner that Amadeo has just executed. José Luis cannot find a girlfriend, since all girls leave him when they find out that he works in a funeral parlour. Amadeo's daughter, Carmen, cannot find a boyfriend, because all the candidates leave when they find out that her father is an executioner. Carmen and José Luis get to know each other and start a relationship that they declare to Amadeo when Carmen becomes pregnant.

Amadeo hopes that the government will give him a flat (given that he is a civil servant), but they refuse it because by the time they give it to him, he will be retired. He and his daughter trick José Luis into accepting the role of executioner to keep the housing, assuring him that he won't have to kill anybody. When an order arrives for an execution in Mallorca, José Luis is horrified and wants to resign, but this would mean losing the flat and returning the salary he has earned. Amadeo and Carmen tell him to wait until the final moment, since the prisoner is ill and will surely die before being executed. At the end, in a memorable scene, José Luis is dragged to the garrote, as if he was the convict instead of the executioner.


Real eventsEdit

The final scene is inspired by the execution of Pilar Prades Expósito, carried out by the executioner Antonio López Sierra. Curiously, years after, José Monero also accepted the role of executioner, convinced that he wouldn't have to act, and wanted to resign when he was required for the execution of Heinz Ches, which he eventually carried out.


Director Luis García Berlanga won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Venice Film Festival for the film. At that moment, Francoist Spain was under international pressure because of the death sentence for the Communist leader Julián Grimau. The Spanish ambassador to Italy, Sánchez Vega, criticized the film as "communist."

Box office and receptionEdit

The film took an estimated gross of ESP 4,107,300 in Spain and there were some 32,907[clarification needed] in cinemas across the country.

External linksEdit