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The Maids (French: Les Bonnes) is a 1975 British film that was directed by Christopher Miles. It is based on the play of the same title by the French dramatist Jean Genet. The film stars Glenda Jackson as Solange, Susannah York as Claire, Vivien Merchant as Madame, and Mark Burns as Monsieur. The film was produced by Ely Landau for the American Film Theatre, which presented thirteen film adaptations of plays in the United States from 1973 to 1975.[1]

The Maids
Directed byChristopher Miles
Produced byRobert Enders
Ely Landau
Written byRobert Enders
Christopher Miles
Jean Genet (play)
StarringGlenda Jackson
Susannah York
Vivien Merchant
Music byLaurie Johnson
CinematographyDouglas Slocombe
Edited byPeter Tanner
Distributed byAmerican Film Theatre
Release date
April 21, 1975 (US)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom



Solange and Claire are two housemaids who construct elaborate sadomasochistic rituals when their mistress (Madame) is away. The focus of their role-playing is the murder of Madame, and they take turns portraying either side of the power divide. The deliberate pace and devotion to detail guarantees that they always fail to actualize their fantasies by ceremoniously "killing" Madame at the ritual's denouement.


Before it was filmed for the American Film Theatre, it ran as a stage play at the Greenwich Theatre, London, with the same principal cast later used for the film version. The director, Christopher Miles planned the 12-day shoot with a single camera which could track anywhere over the set with the cinematographer Douglas Slocombe[2] and deliberately implemented many of Genet's theatrical devices for the film. The camera was often static, the settings lush and extravagant.



The film was shown at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival,[3] but was not entered into the main competition.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Benson, Raymond (16 April 2009). "Remember...The American Film Theater". Cinema Retro. Archived from the original on 1 June 2013.
  2. ^ "Miles on filming a stage success". Cinema TV Today. 1 May 1974.
  3. ^ "Les Yeux Fertiles – Christopher Miles une oeuvre magistrale". France Soir. 20 May 1975.
  4. ^ "The Maids". Festival de Cannes. Retrieved 4 May 2009.
  5. ^ The story of the Papin sisters was filmed in 1995 as Sister My Sister, starring British actresses Joely Richardson, Jodhi May, and Julie Walters. The film was directed by Nancy Meckler and written by Wendy Kesselman. The case was also the subject of Murderous Maids (Les Blessures Assassines), a French film starring Sylvie Testud and Julie-Marie Parmentier and directed by Jean-Pierre Denis, released in 2000.

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