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"Devil by the Tail" is a 1969 French film directed by Phillipe de Broca, starring Yves Montand, Madeleine Renaud, Maria Schell, and Marthe Keller.
A family that has fallen on hard times runs a hotel which has one permanent weekend guest and little else in between. In the opening scene, coffee cups are being placed strategically in the attic to catch water leakage during the rain.
The family consists of an elegant older woman, la marquise (Renaud), her flirtatious married daughter (Schell), la comtesse Diane, her husband, le comte George ( Jean Rochefort) and their beautiful, leggy daughter le jeune baronne Amelie (Keller). Amelie has a some time boyfriend, Charles, who works at a local garage, who occasionally gets the hotel guests by disabling their cars when they stop for gas.
When Charles disables the car of a group of gangsters who have just stolen 100,000 francs, the three reluctantly check in at the hotel and put the money in the wall safe. The head man, Cesar (Yves Montand) charms the women. After a visit from the police, the family realizes who their guests are -- in one hilarious scene, unaware that Cesar has left with the money, they try to break into the safe from the back. The three men leave, but two are killed when their car gets into an accident and goes into the water. Cesar makes his way back to the hotel to hide out.
Absolutely delightful film that could be made today. It's not dated at all and manages to be sexy, warm, and funny all at the same time. Marthe Keller is so fresh and young, and her long, gorgeous legs are shown throughout the film. Maria Schell is unabashedly playful and romantic, though she loves her husband. Renaud, a stunning older woman, is no-nonsense and practical throughout. And the star, Montand, is the essence of French smoothness and charm as he captivates the family.
Highly recommended, with wonderful direction, acting, music, and scenery. It will leave you with a smile on your face!
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