I am looking for a black-and-white movie that I saw before 1985. I think it was a foreign movie (probably from France). A couple visits a village/town where everybody suffers from memory loss. After a few minutes, the people just forget everything. The only exception is the duke of this town. The duke marries the young girls of the town and then he kills them. Since everybody forgets easily nobody is aware of the crimes (the victims are forgotten). I remember in one scene that the couple takes the villagers to the castle of the duke where they find the skeletons of the killed women. The villagers take the duke to the town center to execute him and then one asks the question: why have we gathered here? The Duke answers “We have gathered here because I am getting married” and he picks a girl from the crowd. The people forget his crimes and start celebrating the marriage. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the names of the actors, director, the end of the movie, etc. I saw it as a kid when I was just 10 years old.
Thank you in advance.
Your description reminded me of a B&W 1951 film that I have read about but never seen, “Juliette, or Key of Dreams“. It was directed by the great French filmmaker Marcel Carne, who directed one of the true masterpieces of French cinema, “Children of Paradise”. “Juliette, or Key of Dreams” was based on the Georges Neveux play “Juliette ou La clef des songes”, which was inspired by the Bluebeard folktale. Some elements of the Carne film match well the film you describe, but others don’t match at all, so this is a long shot. You mention you were only ten when you saw the film, so perhaps the differences can be chalked up to faded memories.
In “Juliette, or Key of Dreams” a heartbroken man, Michel, is in prison. He stole from his employer for his love, Juliette. One night he dreams that a door opens in his cell and he escapes through it into a pastoral mountain village where everyone has lost their memories. Juliette is there, and though she no longer remembers Michel, she is drawn to him. But Juliette is to marry a wealthy count, whom Michael detests. At the climax of the film, Michel and some villagers invade the count’s castle. Behind a locked door, they discover a box filled with wedding rings, and many wedding gowns, each with a tear and blood stains from a knife wound to the heart. (But they find no skeletons.) Michel and the villagers try to stop the count’s marriage to Juliette, but fail, and Michel awakens from his dream, again in his prison cell.
I have read about this film, but never had the opportunity to see it. It has never been released on DVD in the USA, and if it has played on TCM, I somehow missed it. But I just checked youtube, and there is a rather poor print available there. It doesn’t have French subtitles, and I can’t speak a word of French, so I’m afraid I may never get to see this film. If this isn’t the film you are looking for, I hope someone else can help you to identify it. I have seen a number of adaptations of the Bluebeard folktale, and would love to see the film you have described.