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Theatre / The Madwoman of Chaillot

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The Madwoman of Chaillot (French: La Folle de Chaillot) is a satirical play written by French dramatist Jean Giraudoux in 1943. The story concerns an eccentric woman who lives in Paris and her struggles alongside her friends against the straitlaced authority figures in her life.

Adapted into a 1969 film, directed by Bryan Forbes and featuring an All-Star Cast including Katharine Hepburn (as the madwoman of the title), Charles Boyer, John Gavin, Paul Henreid, Oskar Homolka, Margaret Leighton, Richard Chamberlain, Yul Brynner, Donald Pleasence, and Danny Kaye.


This play features examples of:

  • Age-Inappropriate Dress: One of the other Madwomen is an ancient woman who still thinks she can pass for a young maiden. She cannot.
  • Corrupt Church: Discussed.
    Gabrielle: Has anyone talked to the Bishop?
    Countesss: Nowadays, only money talks to the Bishop.
  • Gay Paree: The play is set in Paris, and its stereotypical outdoor cafés are prominently featured in the film adaptation.
  • Gold Digger: Discussed by the Ragpicker.
    Ragpicker: How can women deny me anything? I mix morals with sable. I drip pearls into protest. I adorn resistance with rubies. My smile is a Ferrari. I have ALL women — or can have them, which is the same thing.
  • Plague of Good Fortune: Ragpicker uses this as a "defense" during his mock trial. In essence, once you're born rich, you can't ever be poor because you have the Midas touch.
    Ragpicker: It came quite suddenly when I innocently picked a bar of gold bullion out of a garbage can while playing. As you can imagine, I was horrified. I tried swapping it for a little, rundown one-track railroad. To my childish amazement this immediately sold itself for a hundred times its value. I made desperate efforts to get rid of this unwanted wealth. I bought refineries, department stores, every munitions factory I could lay hands on. The rest is history. They stuck to me. They multiplied. And now I am powerless.
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  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Discussed by the Ragpicker.
    Ragpicker: Without money nobody likes or trusts you. But to have money is to be virtuous, beautiful, honest and witty. To have none is to be ugly, and boring, and stupid, and useless!
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Ragpicker is shameless about this.
    Ragpicker: May it please this honorable court, my life is an open book, I am a pillar of the church. I support all organized charities that are tax deductable. I give to all the newest and fashionable diseases.

Alternative Title(s): The Madwoman Of Chaillot