IMDb > Coup de torchon (1981)
Coup de torchon
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Coup de torchon (1981) More at IMDbPro »

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Coup de torchon -- Trailer for this comedy thriller


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Release Date:
4 November 1981 (France) See more »
1938, in a French african colony. Lucien Cordier is the cop of this village, populated with blacks and a few whites (usually racialist and lustful)... See more » | Add synopsis »
Nominated for Oscar. Another 2 wins & 10 nominations See more »
(52 articles)
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User Reviews:
very oddly humorous and cold at the same time, and a curiously moving, low-key performance See more (28 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Philippe Noiret ... Lucien Cordier

Isabelle Huppert ... Rose Mercaillou

Jean-Pierre Marielle ... Le Peron et son frère L'adjudant Georges Le Peron

Stéphane Audran ... Huguette Cordier

Eddy Mitchell ... Nono - l'amant demeuré d'Huguette
Guy Marchand ... Marcel Chavasson
Irène Skobline ... Anne - la nouvelle institutrice
Michel Beaune ... Vanderbrouck - un nouveau riche arrogant
Jean Champion ... Priest
Victor Garrivier ... Mercaillou
Gérard Hernandez ... Leonelli
Abdoulaye Diop ... Fête Nat - le serviteur noir de Lucien
Daniel Langlet ... Paulo - un flic larvaire
François Perrot ... Le colonel Tramichel
Raymond Hermantier ... L'aveugle
Mamadou Dioumé ... Mamadou - l'interprète
Samba Mané ... Vendredi - un noir qui en sait trop
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Irénée Martin ... La femme au cimetière (uncredited)

Directed by
Bertrand Tavernier 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Jean Aurenche 
Bertrand Tavernier 
Jim Thompson  novel "Pop. 1280"

Produced by
Henri Lassa .... producer
Adolphe Viezzi .... producer
Original Music by
Philippe Sarde 
Cinematography by
Pierre-William Glenn 
Film Editing by
Armand Psenny 
Production Design by
Alexandre Trauner 
Set Decoration by
Hubert de Varine 
Franckie Diago  (as Frankie Diago)
Costume Design by
Jacqueline Moreau 
Makeup Department
Paul Le Marinel .... key makeup artist
Ludovic Paris .... hair stylist
Production Management
Jean-Louis Lapassade .... unit manager
Michel Nicolini .... unit production manager
Louis Wipf .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jean Achache .... assistant director
Frédéric Bourboulon .... assistant director
Daniel Deleforges .... trainee assistant director
Makhete Diallo .... assistant director
Roland Fruytier .... trainee assistant director
Art Department
René Albouze .... props
Georges Bouillette .... construction manager
Pierre Fontaine .... set dresser
Sound Department
Catherine D'Hoir .... assistant sound editor
Michel Desrois .... sound
Maurice Gilbert .... sound mixer
Luce Grunenwaldt .... sound editor
Jean-Pierre Lelong .... foley artist
Dominique Levert .... boom operator
Claude Villand .... sound mixer
Camera and Electrical Department
Albert Bonomi .... key grip
Armand Bonomi .... grip
Marc Casi .... grip
Alain Choquart .... second assistant camera
Michael Coulter .... first assistant camera
Pierre-William Glenn .... steadicam operator
Michel Lombardo .... electrician
Rene Rochera .... chief electrician
Abdoulaye Sy .... electrician
Moussa Touré .... electrician
Jean-Claude Vicquery .... camera operator
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Yvette Bonnay .... assistant costume designer
Irénée Martin .... assistant costume designer
Editorial Department
Sophie Cornu .... assistant editor
Music Department
William Flageollet .... music mixer
Peter Knight .... conductor
Other crew
Sylvie Crouet .... production secretary
Peter Fernandez .... voice director: English version
Simon Mizrahi .... press attache
Pauline Montel .... production administrator
Claudine Taulère .... script supervisor

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
128 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

France's official submission as Best Foreign Language Film to the 1982's Oscar.See more »
Factual errors: The movie begins with a scene during a total eclipse of the sun. Between 1933 (Hitler comes to power) and 1939 (invasion of France), no path of totality from any solar eclipse touched French West Africa.See more »
[Lucien Cordier shoots Marcaillou and then kicks him as he lies on the ground]
Lucien Cordier:Kicking a dying man isn't very nice. But first, I wanted to, and second, it's no risk. This hurts me more than you.
[Lucien Cordier kicks Marcaillou again]
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Scenes Under the Midnight Sun (1987) (TV)See more »


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10 out of 18 people found the following review useful.
very oddly humorous and cold at the same time, and a curiously moving, low-key performance, 30 May 2009
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

Lucien Cordier is not like most cops. He's a main chief in a West African village where white people are the minority though, in 1938, are as racist and sexist as can be. He's also not a very good cop, as he barely ever arrests anyone and his authority can be challenged pretty quickly, even by two scummy pimps. He's like the pushover kid in a playground who may be a nice guy, but he's also not quite strong enough to actually attain the authority needed to stand up against the bullies. That is until Lucien decides to fight back, in a manner that is at a calm extreme; an oxymoron, perhaps, but watching Lucien is an oxymoron in human form, but a fascinating one. He'll kill someone, anyone, he thinks of as an enemy to him, shooting a man in the back, the pimps, or even the man who helps him dig a grave. He calmly explains some of the whys, but he never goes too ballistic. Lucien is a man of principles, but to say exactly what or why is a mystery.

This is what makes Coup de tochon, or Clean Slate, based on the Jim Thompson novel Pop 1280 (mentioned in passing as Pop. 1275 for no good reason at one point in the film), is about this man who is warm, lustful, proud, and perhaps a not entirely bright but not stupid either. And as played by Philippe Noiret he makes this film compulsively watchable. The supporting cast, such as Isabelle Hupert and Jean-Pierre Marielle, don't fare too badly either, but it's Noiret that elevates this to something more than director Bertrand Tavernier could have expected. He gives a performance that is intense without ever being over the top, and thoughtful while seemingly aloof in some points. He makes Lucien a guy we might like to know or talk to for a little while, until we see the veneer peel away, a fragile man who has been pushed around by his bosses and his wife (Stephan Audran) and in a position with such little power that the only way to bust loose is senseless killing. As he says, "Would a man with these eyes be a killer?"

Tavernier's direction is lax and smooth, jagged with some documentary style and realism (it was shot all on location, and it looks it always), but there's also a distance I felt to many of the scenes, a deliberate attempt to strip down film-noir elements to light absurdism mixed with sardonic tragedy. There are some great moments, don't get me wrong: the scene with the film screened for the village people at night that gets ruined by a windstorm as the audio keeps playing on with the film cut off and people scrambling for cover; the first killing scene of the pimps where Lucien becomes a larger threat with every passing second leading up to a predictable but still shocking climax; an ending, which I won't mention here.

It has such moments, but I wasn't very moved by Coup de torchon throughout, and it's not directed with the surest hand. And yet, I have to give it to Philippe Noiret: in any other film noir he'd be out of place, and yet here, he's perfect.

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Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Coup de torchon (1981)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Why did Cordier kill the man who brought him Mercaillou's body? alexreg
Trivia Error allandray
Jim Thompson Book sheenarocks
Audran was smoking hot! philistine-985-817685
Pop. 1275 PatrickCurren
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