A door closes

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German title A door closes
Original title Return from the Ashes
Country of production United Kingdom
original language English
Publishing year 1965
length 107 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director J. Lee Thompson
script Julius J. Epstein
production J. Lee Thompson
music John Dankworth
camera Christopher Challis
cut Russell Lloyd

A door slams is a British thriller from 1965 by J. Lee Thompson based on the novel Le Retour des Cendres (1963) by Hubert Monteilhet with Ingrid Thulin , Maximilian Schell and Samantha Eggar in the leading roles.


France 1940. Immediately before the German Wehrmacht invaded France, the Jewish doctor Dr. Michèle Wolf met the younger Pole Stanislaus “Stan” Pilgrin during a rapid chess tournament. She doesn't know that he has a chess master title. Fascinated by his bright head and brilliant perception, Michele gets involved with the Pole, who is not very strong in character, and begins an affair with him. Little does she suspect that one day he will prove to be a characterless soldier of fortune who is primarily concerned with his own well-being. After the German invasion both marry, but this “Aryan” marriage does not protect Michèle. She is arrested by German authorities and deported to a Nazi concentration camp in Dachau.

Five years have passed and Michéle Wolf is returning home to France from the concentration camp. She has suffered severe damage to body and soul. Michèle now calls herself “Madame Robert” and does not initially seek out her unfaithful husband, who has taken a lover in the meantime. Instead, the doctor consults her colleague Dr. Charles Bovard, who initially does not recognize her in view of her desolate overall condition. Bovard is a plastic surgeon and is ready to restore as much of the old Michèle Wolf as possible. There is a rather chance encounter with Stan, who assumed that his wife could not have survived the horrors of the deportation. Although Pilgrin notices the uncanny resemblance between “Madame Robert” and Michèle, he still has no idea that they are one and the same person. Then Stan comes up with an idea: Since his new lover, Fabienne Wolf, is Michèle's stepdaughter and she cannot inherit Michèle, who was believed to be dead, because, as is customary with concentration camp victims, no more corpses can be found, Pilgrin suggests Michèle that "Madame Robert" in public Dr. Michèle Wolf should play. Michèle accepts Stan's macabre suggestion.

Michèle returns to her old residence and looks forward to meeting Fabienne again, who is usually just called “Fabi”. Will at least the young woman recognize her again? Michèle quickly realizes that Fabi resents her for once leaving her alone. And the homecomer also sees that Fabienne of all people has become the new one in the life of her former lover. Finally, “Madame Robert” ends the game of cat and mouse and pretends to be Dr. Recognize Michèle Wolf. She asks nothing less than that her still-husband Stan return to her. Like Fabi, however, he now has completely different plans: Fabienne plans to murder her hated stepmother. Stan goes to another city because of an allegedly upcoming chess tournament in order to get an alibi for the time of the crime. In the in-house safe, he places a firearm in such a way that it goes off when the safe is opened and kills the person in front of it. Miles away from the planned crime scene, Stan plans to call Michèle from there and tell her that he has kept a present in the safe for his wife who has returned and that she should please get it out yourself.

No sooner said than done, Stan implements the murderous plan as ice cold. When a shot rang out a little later, which Stan overheard on the other end of the phone line, he believed that he had just committed the perfect crime. Now Stan thinks he can go home in peace to clear up any remaining discrepancies and make the event look like a suicide. Before that, in an act of uncanny greed and unscrupulousness, the Pole drowned the confidante Fabienne in the bathtub and tried to make it look like an accident resulting from an overdose of barbiturates. Back home, says Pilgrin, to discover Michele's body on the floor and wants to manipulate the crime scene as planned. The police appear. The murderous husband can't believe his eyes: Michèle is alive! The moment she opened the vault door, her colleague Dr. Charles Bovard entered the room, whereupon Michèle took a short step to the side, and the fired pistol bullet from the safe just missed her.

Production notes

A door slams was filmed in London from January 18, 1965 and had its world premiere in Pittsburgh on October 13, 1965. In Germany, the film opened on November 12, 1965. The New York premiere took place four days later, the British premiere was on February 14, 1966.

Lewis J. Rachmil took over the production management, Cecil F. Ford the production management. The film structures as well as the costumes were designed by Michael Stringer , the costumes by Margaret Furse . Austin Dempster was a simple cameraman. Composer Johnny Dankworth also took over the musical direction.

The German film Phoenix (2014) is also based on the novel by Hubert Monteilhet.


role actor Voice actor
Dr. Michèle Wolf Ingrid Thulin Edith Schneider
Stanislaus Pilgrin Maximilian Schell he himself
Fabienne Wolf Samantha Eggar Uta Hallant
Dr. Charles Bovard Herbert Lom Helmut Wildt
Paul Vladek Sheybal Heinz Petruo


In Variety , the reviewer found that a door slams shut does not always achieve “what makes a thriller” but has “signs of an exciting melodrama”.

The Movie & Video Guide called the story a "compelling melodrama" and concluded that the three stars would add credibility to the "far-fetched events".

In the lexicon of international films it says: “In an embarrassing way, the fate of persecuted Jews serves the sensational film as pure entertainment material. The fact that the film gets under your skin in some places is mainly thanks to the excellent leading actress and her amazing versatility; but it is precisely their sensitivity and empathy that make it so difficult to accept this type of conversation. "

Halliwell's Film Guide thought the film was "only moderately imaginative," especially if you knew Enoch Arden and Alfred Hitchcock's On Call Murder and Psycho .

Hal Erickson found the film to be like a "textbook case for improbability" and on that point it would correspond to the "equally incredible novel by Hubert Monteilhet".

Individual evidence

  1. A door closes in the German synchronous file
  2. Critique in Variety
  3. ^ Leonard Maltin : Movie & Video Guide, 1996 edition, p. 1083
  4. A door closes. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed December 31, 2019 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  5. ^ Leslie Halliwell : Halliwell's Film Guide, Seventh Edition, New York 1989, p. 623.
  6. ↑ Brief review on allemovie.com.

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