The Twelve Chairs

(Las doce sillas)

Cuba, 1962, 90 min, b&w
In Spanish; English subtitles


On her deathbed, a wealthy woman reveals that she – in order to keep her possessions from being given to a collective – has hidden her jewels in one of twelve identical chairs, newly confiscated by revolutionary authorities. After her death, three men want to find the jewels; her son-in-law, the priest who took her last confession and her gardener start hunting all over Havana and beyond.


A classic comedy by the director of Death of a Bureaucrat (1966), the Oscar nominated Strawberry & Chocolate (1994), and Guantanamera (1995).


Despite having been criticized for creating schematic characters, with this film Alea created a significant example of socialist-realist cinema. The Twelve Chairs is the Cuban version of an oft-told Russian story, also filmed by Mel Brooks in 1970.


(This film is ONLY available for sale on DVD and for research rentals. It may not be rented for a non-commercial public performance screening.)

Press comments

“A farce about petit-bourgeois greed!”
— Ralf Schenk, film historian


“[Tomás Gutiérrez Alea is …] one of Cuba’s major directors!”
The New York Times


“Farcical laughs under the Castro regime.”
— Ed Grant, Video Business


DVD Bonus Features:
  • Introduction to ICAIC
  • Photo Gallery
  • Director Biography & Filmography
  • Short Film: Cuban Filmmakers on Cuban Films

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