On a Volé la Cuisse de Jupiter (1980)

vt Jupiter’s Thigh
France / 101 minutes / color / Ariane, Mondex, F.R.3 Dir: Philippe de Broca Pr: Alexandre Mnouchkine, Georges Dancigers, Robert Amon Scr: Michel Audiard Based on: characters created in the Commissaire Tanquerelle books by Jean-Paul Rouland and Claude Olivier Cine: Jean-Paul Schwartz Cast: Annie Girardot, Philippe Noiret, Francis Perrin, Catherine Alric, Marc Dudicourt, Paulette Dubost, Roger Carel, Anna Gaylor, Gabriel Cattand, Philippe Brizard, Nikos Tsachiridis, Nikos Dafnis, Vassilis Colovos (i.e., Vasilis Kolovos), Alexandre Mnouchkine

Tendre Poulet (1977; vt Dear Inspector; vt Dear Detective) was one of my favorite movies watched in 2019, so naturally I had very high hopes for this, its sequel. Well, the good news is that On a Volé la Cuisse de Jupiter is really very amusing; the bad news is that it’s not a patch on its predecessor, I think because it’s self-consciously a screwball comedy involving crime rather than a crime movie with a wonderful sense of humor.

Annie Girardot as Lise

The puzzling news is that there’s not the slightest reference to the thigh of Jupiter (“la cuisse de Jupiter”) in the movie. According to a commenter on the Word Reference forum,

The god [Dionysius] was said to be born out of Jove’s leg. Se croire sorti de la cuisse de Jupiter means to believe that you are someone much more important than the others, like the son of the greatest of gods. It’s a set expression in French, and very derogatory toward the one who believes this about himself.

That doesn’t seem quite to fit either: it’d mean the title translated as something like “Someone has stolen the source of the bee’s knees.” There’s a little twist right at the end of the movie that Continue reading

Tendre Poulet (1977)

vt Dear Inspector; vt Dear Detective
France / 106 minutes / color / Ariane, Mondex, GEF–CCFC Dir: Philippe de Broca Pr: Alexandre Mnouchkine, Georges Dancigers, Robert Amon Scr: Philippe de Broca, Michel Audiard Story: Le Commissaire Tanquerelle et le Frelon (1976) by Jean-Paul Rouland and Claude Olivier Cine: Jean-Paul Schwartz Cast: Annie Girardot, Philippe Noiret, Catherine Alric, Hubert Deschamps, Paulette Dubost, Roger Dumas, Raymond Gérôme, Guy Marchand, Simone Renant, Georges Wilson, Henri Czarniak, Maurice Illouz, Georges Riquier, Armelle Pourriche, Francis Lemaire, Guy Antoni, Guy Di Rigo, Jacqueline Doyen

For some reason I had it in mind this was a far more noirish movie than it proved to be; I must have been getting it confused in decades-ago memory with something a bit dourer, like Pierre Granier-Deferre’s ADIEU POULET (1975; vt The French Detective) or even Claude Chabrol’s POULET AU VINAIGRE (1984; vt Cop au Vin). However, on what was effectively a first-time watch I fell completely in love with the piece, and thus persuaded myself it deserved a place here. Even though it’s essentially a romantic farce in police-procedural guise, there are four murders, one of which is shown in moderately grim detail, so it does kinda sorta hook into the French school of noir.

No?

Well, that’s my justification, anyway.

Lise Tanquerelle (Girardot) is a senior police detective and divorced mother in Paris. One day, hurrying home in the car for the birthday party of her little daughter Catherine (Pourriche), she knocks Professor Antoine Lemercier (Noiret) off his moped. After she’s Continue reading

Bande à Bonnot, La (1968)

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Classic gangsterism!
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vt Les Anarchistes; vt Bonnot’s Gang
France / 86 minutes / color plus some bw / Intermondia, Kinesis, Mega, Valoria Dir: Philippe Fourastié Pr: Jean-Paul Guibert Scr: Jean Pierre Beaurenaut, Pierre Fabre, Rémo Forlani, Philippe Fourastié, Marcel Jullian Cine: Alain Levent Cast: Jacques Brel, Bruno Cremer, Annie Girardot, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, François Dyrek, Dominique Maurin, Michel Vitold, Nella Bielski, Pascal Aubier, Anne Wiazemsky, Armand Mestral, François Moro-Giafferi, Léonce Corne, Jacqueline Noel.

bonnot-0

In reality, Jules Bonnot was a very minor criminal; he was not even the leader of the gang that the French press of the day—the early 1910s—dubbed La Bande à Bonnot (the Bonnot Gang; the movie’s anglophone variant title, Bonnot’s Gang, is actually a mistranslation). Bonnot began as a bit of a rebel without a clue, became interested in anarchist politics and then, in 1908, joined a counterfeiting gang. The gang diversified into auto theft and burglary. In 1911 he became a member of the anarcho-criminal gang led by Octave Garnier, where he pioneered the use of the getaway car. The following year, with the public in an uproar and the cops coming ever closer, the gang split up. On April 24 1912 the flics almost nabbed Bonnot; in a shootout, he killed Louis Jouin, deputy head of the Sûreté Nationale. A few days later the cops surrounded the house where he was now hiding, and there was a major standoff that ended only when the cops dynamited the building.

The events in this movie bear some resemblance to the ones just recounted (with the help of en.wikipedia.org and fr.wikipedia.org).

bonnot-2-raymond

Jacques Brel as Raymond.

Raymond Callemin (Brel), nicknamed “Raymond la Science,” is an anarchist and a bit of a troublemaker; he and his pal Édouard Carouy (Dyrek) tend to get thrown out of places a lot. They join up with an anarchist group led by Continue reading