The Cry of the Owl (1987 film)

The Cry of the Owl
Directed by Claude Chabrol
Produced by Antonio Passalia
Written by Claude Chabrol
Odile Barski
Patricia Highsmith (novel)
Starring Christophe Malavoy
Mathilda May
Virginie Thévenet
Music by Matthieu Chabrol
Cinematography Jean Rabier
Edited by Monique Fardoulis
Civite Casa Films
Italfrance Films
Distributed by Delta
Release dates
October 28, 1987
Running time
102 minutes
Country France
Language French

The Cry of the Owl (Original: Le cri du hibou) is a 1987 French-Italian thriller film, adapted from the 1962 novel The Cry of the Owl by Patricia Highsmith. The film was directed by Claude Chabrol and stars Christophe Malavoy, Mathilda May and Virginie Thévenet.

Divorced illustrator Robert spies on a young woman named Juliette who he envies for her seemingly happy life. When they finally meet and Juliette leaves her fiancé Patrick for Robert, the situation quickly escalates.


Parisian illustrator Robert becomes obsessed with a young woman, Juliette. Night after night, Robert sneaks around the house to catch a glimpse of Juliette, until one day he finally gathers the courage to introduce himself. Juliette realizes that she is not happy with her fiancé, Patrick, and leaves him to be with Robert. Robert in turn is not happy with Juliette's obtrusive advances.

One night, Patrick attacks Robert in a deserted area; Robert defends himself and knocks Patrick unconscious, leaving him on the shores of a nearby river. The next day, Robert is interrogated by the police. Patrick is missing, and suddenly Robert is the prime suspect. Nobody knows that Patrick has allied with Robert's bitter ex-wife, Véronique, to take revenge on Robert; he is hiding from the police in order to make them think Robert killed him. Robert's professional and private life falls apart after becoming a police suspect. The situation escalates when Juliette commits suicide, and Patrick launches a vendetta against Robert. In a final confrontation between the men, Véronique is accidentally killed, and although Patrick is defeated, Robert is again left as a suspect in an apparent crime scene.



The film premiered on October 28, 1987 in France. It was featured at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 1987.[1] It made its US premiere on October 16, 1991 in New York City. Although released on VHS in many countries, the American DVD is the only available digital release for the home media market at present (2011).

Other adaptations

Also in 1987, German writer-director Tom Toelle directed an adaption for German television titled Der Schrei der Eule.[2]

A third film adaptation written and directed by Jamie Thraves and starring Julia Stiles and Paddy Considine was released in 2009.[3]

Awards and nominations


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