The Widow Couderc

The Widow Couderc (French: La veuve Couderc) is a 1971 French drama film based on the novel of the same name by Georges Simenon.

The Widow Couderc
La veuve Couderc
Directed byPierre Granier-Deferre
Produced byRaymond Danon
Written byPascal Jardin
Pierre Granier-Deferre
Based onnovel by Georges Simenon
StarringSimone Signoret
Alain Delon
Music byPhilippe Sarde
CinematographyWalter Wottitz
Lira Films (Paris)
Pegaso Films (Rome)
Release date
  • 13 October 1971 (1971-10-13)
Running time
89 minutes
Box office2,008,203 admissions (France)[1]


In 1934, in a little village on a canal in Burgundy, a laconic young stranger called Jean is walking along the road when an older woman in black gets off a bus with a heavy load. He helps her carry it to her farm, where she offers him work and a room. He accepts, and soon she is in his bed. She is the widow Couderc, running the farm single-handed with her infirm father-in-law. Across the canal live her sister-in-law and ineffectual husband, who are trying to evict the widow and gain the property. They have a 16 year old daughter, Félicie, who has already managed to have a baby, father uncertain.

Jean enjoys helping on the farm, but will reveal little of his past. His father was rich, he says, and he wanted to become a doctor but killed a man, ending up in jail from which he has escaped. The widow accepts his story, but her trust is strained when he can't resist sleeping with the alluring Félicie as well. The situation is taken out of her hands when her sister-in-law denounces Jean to the police, who surround the farm at dawn. When Jean fires on them, both he and the widow are killed in the ensuing fusillade.



  • Action is initiated by women. The lonely embattled widow gives a home to the wanderer Jean. Her sexy niece easily seduces him. Her sister-in-law not only gets her and Jean killed but inherits the farm as well.
  • Freedom is elusive. Jean escaped jail, but becomes totally dependent on the widow. The widow is tied for life to the drudgery of farming. Her sister-in-law is obsessed with gaining the farm. Félicie is free with her favours, but has a baby to look after full time.
  • Property is key. Jean has nothing, while all the widow has is the farm. All her sister-in-law wants is to evict the widow and gain the farm.
  • Class is its own barrier. Jean, an educated man, is reduced to the life of a peasant. The peasants he has landed among have no ambition beyond working the land.
  • Family is a battleground. Jean, a murderer on the run, is completely estranged from his family. The widow is in daily war with her in-laws across the canal.


  1. Box office information for film at Box Office Story
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