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

Lucky Jo (1964)

France / 87 minutes / bw / UGC, Les Films Sirius, Les Productions Jacques Roitfeld, Belmont, Eléfilm, CFDC Dir: Michel Deville Pr: Jacques Roitfeld Scr: Nina Companeez, Michel Deville Story: Main Pleine (1959) by Pierre-Vial Lesou Cine: Claude Lecomte Cast: Eddie Constantine, Pierre Brasseur, Georges Wilson, Christiane Minazzoli, Claude Brasseur, Françoise Arnoul, Jean-Pierre Darras, André Cellier, Christian Barbier, Anouk Ferjac, Marcelle Ranson, Jean-Paul Cisife, Jean-Pierre Rambal, Pierre Asso, Pierre Le Rumeur, Jacques Echantillon, Willy Braque, Jean-Pierre Moutier, Bernard Mongourdin.

A movie that’s commonly listed as a comedy although it doesn’t comfortably fit that description. Yes, there’s a lot of—often very funny—comedy in it, but there are elements too of tragedy and pathos. Its mixture of moods is rather like that of real life, in fact, where we can laugh at human follies and weep at their tragic consequences.

In Paris, three French crooks—Simon Archambaut (Wilson), Napo (Darras) and Gabriel Farkas (Cellier)—and their expat American colleague, Christopher “Lucky Jo” Jowett (Constantine), use various inventive strategies to commit their crimes; in the opening sequence, for example, we see them dressed as monks to carry out a bank stick-up, afterward fleeing ungainly on foot like crippled bats through the cobbled Parisian streets. The Parisian trio eventually notice, however, that, every time Lucky Jo goes along on a job, something unpredictable goes awry and one of the others ends up doing a jail term.

Eddie Constantine as Lucky Jo (left) and Jean-Pierre Darras as Napo.

Finally it’s the getaway from an apartment burglary that—hilariously—screws up, and this time Jo himself is Continue reading