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Two on a Guillotine is a 1965 American horror film produced and directed by William Conrad and starring Connie Stevens. The screenplay by John Kneubuhl and Henry Slesar is based on a story by Slesar.[1][2]

Two on a Guillotine
DVD cover
Directed byWilliam Conrad
Produced byWilliam Conrad
Written byJohn Kneubuhl
Henry Slesar
Based ona story by Henry Slesar
StarringConnie Stevens
Dean Jones
Cesar Romero
Parley Baer
Virginia Gregg
John Hoyt
Music byMax Steiner
CinematographySam Leavitt
Edited byWilliam H. Ziegler
Distributed byWarner Brothers
Release date
  • 1965 (1965)
Running time
CountryUnited States

It was the first in a series of low budget suspense dramas for Warner Bros, the others being My Blood Runs Cold and Brainstorm.(There was meant to be a fourth, The Thing at the Door, but it ended up not being made).[3] These were inspired by the success of William Castle films.[4]


A prologue introduces the audience to John Harley Duquesne, a psychotic magician who accidentally beheads his wife Melinda with a guillotine during a performance. Twenty years later he dies, and his will requires his daughter Cassie (the mirror image of her mother) to spend seven nights in his apparently haunted mansion in order to inherit his estate.

Reporter Val Henderson offers to stay with her when he learns Duquesne promised to return in spirit form during Cassie's week-long vigil. As the days pass, the two encounter a number of spooky happenings, leading to a climax in which the not-really-dead Duquesne attempts a recreation of his guillotine trick, this time with his daughter as an unwilling assistant who hopefully won't lose her head.

In a climactic fight, Henderson tries to prevent Duquesne from activating the guillotine, but himself accidentally releases the catch; a dummy's head falls from the guillotine causing Duquesne to go insane thinking his daughter has been killed. Henderson rescues Cassie as the police come to arrest Duquesne.

Principal castEdit


The film was one of a series of movies Warner Bros financed by television directors in this case William Conrad.(Other such directors included Lamont Johnson and Jack Smight.[5])

Filming started June 1964.[6]

Stevens was under contract with Warner Bros. She said "I thought the script was stupid when I read it but I came away thinking, 'yeah, it could have happened.' That's the challenge, to make something like this believable."[7]

Stevens made the film right before her series Wendy and Me. She said the film "could have been a class A thriller if they'd spent more money on it." However she noted it got Conrad a seven year contract with the studio.[8]

Critical receptionEdit

In his review in The New York Times, Howard Thompson called the film "a dull, silly, tedious clinker" and "an old-fashioned, haunted-house spooker."[9] The Los Angeles Times called it "an unusually appealing love story" with "genuinely spine-tingling suspense."[10]

TV Guide rates it two out of a possible four stars, calling it "a standard haunted house thriller."[11]


The film was released via DVD on 22 June 2010.[12]

Comic book adaptionEdit

  • Dell Movie Classic: Two on a Guillotine (April-June 1965)[13][14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Two on a Guillotine DVD – Warner Bros.
  2. ^ TWO ON A GUILLOTINE Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 33, Iss. 384, (Jan 1, 1966): 112.
  3. ^ Warner Bros. Pictures' Net Rose in 3 Months: Improvement Is Termed General; 2nd Fiscal Quarter Earnings Expected After Year-Ago Loss Special to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. Wall Street Journal 4 Feb 1965: 6.
  4. ^ "Two on a Guillotine". Turner Classic Movies.
  5. ^ Warner Gambling on New Directors: Hugh Griffith, Schell Signed: Rita Tushingham Has 'Knack' Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 27 Oct 1964: C9.
  6. ^ Harve Presnell Signs for Non-Singing Role Los Angeles Times 9 June 1964: C8
  7. ^ Connie Stevens Makes a Big Hit: Teen-Agers Go Wild When They See Her Maher, Mary. Chicago Tribune 15 Feb 1965: b1.
  8. ^ An Eager Connie Stevens Casts an Eye on the Big Star Category Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 10 Jan 1965: B6.
  9. ^ Thompson, Howard (January 14, 1965). "Two on a Guillotine (1965) Double Chop Chop". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Thriller Is Stylish, Romantic Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times 12 Feb 1965: C14.
  11. ^ "Two on a Guillotine". TV Guide.
  12. ^ Remastered Sixties Classic Two on a Guillotine Heading to DVD
  13. ^ Dell Movie Classic: Two on a Guillotine at the Grand Comics Database
  14. ^ Dell Movie Classic: Two on a Guillotine at the Comic Book DB

External linksEdit