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If it is not enough, there is a soundtrack written by Vladimir Cosma and performed by the King of Pan Flute, a famous Romanian musician Gheorghe Zamfir. Cosma recalls that when he was composing the music for The Tall Blond Man, he was thinking of the movie "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" and he wanted to use the elements of the Eastern European music. His idea to use the themes of Romanian doinas played by Zamfir was a stroke of genius. Once you hear the melodies, you won't be able to forget them.
YES to the movie and YES!! to the soundtrack
The best description of this classic is the oxymoron: sophisticated slapstick. But there is much more. Like the category list suggests (comedy, mystery, and more) there's something for everybody, and you needn't be a Francophile to enjoy it.
Now finally available in a collected set of DVDs
"Coffret Le Grand blond - 2 DVD Le Grand blond avec une chaussure noire - Le Retour du grand blond De Yves Robert Avec Pierre Richard, Jean Rochefort, Mireille Darc DVD Zone 2 - Pal. 2 volumes"
But for the English speakers - you may have to check out the Web to find some subtitles - product available from www.FNAC.com in France.
But I also want to point out that the movie ends with a quote: "Every person is entitled to the respect of his or her private life. Penal Code, Article 9." Indeed, the wry tongue in cheek is pointed squarely at the absurdities of the French intelligence community. I find looking at the movie in that light adds another bit of fun to identifying the "good guys" and the bad guys.
Well worth your time.
It's stuck with me ever since.
This is a brilliant piece of film-making, satisfying as both a comedy and a spy movie. Pierre Richard has a masterful sense of comedic timing, on par with Buster Keaton.
If you get a chance to see this, do.
Still, let's suppose now that the government needs to know some secrets. Suppose that the person to spy on can be a threat? Now, suppose that he's thought to be dangerous, but in reality, he's just an average schmuck no better, no worse than the other fellow. That's an interesting basis of comedy, isn't it? Now, why would an average schmuck be spied on? Let's say he's used as a booby-trap to prove one agent's incompetence? Why? Well, imagine an Agent 1 wants to get rid of his second in command? Well, now you have the perfect set-up for one of the most iconic French comedies of errors.
Wait, there's still one piece of the puzzle missing, they still have to pick a random guy in an airport, and chose him as the unfortunate pawn of a deadly chess-game. Who? A tall black man with a green collar? An old man? A young wait, who's coming here? A tall blond man with a black shoe in one foot, and a reddish brown in another, it's so peculiar it looks premeditated, it's perfect, and the guy is the master spy, and the perfect booby trap and the most memorable entrance of a character in French cinema.
In French Cinema, there is a fistful of movies whose only mention of their titles is enough to bring back a particular imagery, music, some iconic shots, forever rooted in people's memory. "The Tall Blonde with a Black Shoe" is one of these immediately evocative titles, Pierre Richard's iconic entrance in Orly's escalator, Mireille Darc's black dress with the naughty buttock cleavage (the French equivalent of Marylin Monroe's white dress), the rivalry between two veteran actors: Jean Rochefort and Bernard Blier, respectively #1 and #2 of French Secret Services, Vladimir Cosma's immortal Pan's flute theme played by the no-less legendary George Zhamfir, and so on and so forth. Everything screams 'classic!' and for reasons.
"The Tall Blonde with a Black Shoe" 's particular flavor relies on two comedic ingredients: people taking the most peculiar things with an absolute seriousness, one man totally oblivious to the chaotic situations he creates around him and a goofy screwball thought to be a genius, three premises combined in one film, whose abundance of gags is never tarnished. The center of this oddball universe remains Pierre Richard in the most defining role of his career as François Perrin, the 5'10'' tall man with curly blonde hair and two unsuited shoes, the quintessential funny-looking character.
What is remarkable in Pierre Richard's performance is the way he embodies the natural goofiness of the character and yet remains straight all through the movie, he's either the Auguste clown causing trouble to a bunch of white-faced clowns around him, or he's the straight man of a grotesque masquerade. It's not surprising that the film was co-written by Yves Robert and Francis Veber, the latter would know how to use other actors' talent to highlight Richard's comedic appeal. But here, everyone is so damn serious yet everything seems so crazy and the film's laughs plays in an almost surreal level, as we follow the adventure of François Perrin.
Speaking of Perrin, It's interesting to note that he's the only one with a normal name while all the others are named from cities, to avoid any confusion, the writers took these precautions and exploited him for pure laughs as there are two thugs named Poucet and Chaperon a reference to two fairy tale characters, the film is like a timid parody and oddly enough, it works. In "The Tall Blonde", all the actors play their parts seriously and the laughs don't come from Perrin's weird situations but from the way they're interpreted. It can get a bit repetitive in the first act during which they bug his home, and follow him in his most intimate moments with Paulette, Maurice's wife, and Maurice his best friend played by an irresistible Jean Carmet.
The film takes a brilliant turn during a hilarious symphony sequence featuring the wife, the lover, and the cuckolded husband in the instruments and Yves Robert doing a brilliant cameo as the conductor, the laughs reach their pinnacle with the unforgettable evening at Christine's house. Relying on Richard's comical talent and not without some ad-libs, the film doesn't avoid the use of pure slapstick comedy allowing us to take a break from all this sophistication displayed in the previous scene. And while the film doesn't try to be funny every time, it remains consistent in quality. And of course, even indivisible element of the film, the catchy score of Vladimir Cosma, probably the music that would pave his way to glory.
Asked to make a sort of parody of James Bond themes, Cosma chose to follow his instincts instead of these advices, and dig in his Slavic background to come up with this Soviet-like little tune, not too oriental to be exotic, but catchy enough to be forever associated with the film. While Veber disagreed with the music's choice, Robert kept it, and as it was pointed out in the making-of, the music fitted perfectly the film as it sounded like a sort of Gypsy Dance to Death. I didn't know what it meant, until I remembered the parts where the first shots were fired. I thought it was over the top, but after a second thought, I guess they perfectly captured the spirit of a film that should not be taken too seriously.
And we all know, from the film, the danger of taking stuff 'too seriously'.