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There may be trouble ahead...

Author: kinsayder from United Kingdom
6 November 2010

Frédéric Truche, a respectable businessman, is on his way home one evening when he spots an unattended parcel on a luggage rack in the Métro. These days, the correct response would be to throw your hands in the air and run screaming in the opposite direction. But this is 1947 and there are food shortages, and M Truche, suspecting it to be a ham or a parcel of butter, slips it under his arm and takes it home to his wife. They unwrap it eagerly, only to find... something very nasty inside.

This might be the opening of a Fritz Lang noir; and the ensuing drama, in which M Truche finds himself sucked into a criminal process where no-one believes his innocence, could be the plot of a Hitchcock thriller. (In fact, it was - "The Wrong Man".) But "Tête blonde" is a comedy, and a fairly good one at that. The film's greatest asset is Jules Berry, an actor who excelled at playing screen villains but who could turn his hand to comedy with equal success. There's a lot of pleasure to be had here, watching the energetic Berry, in one of his last roles, trying to squirm and babble his way out of the Kafkaesque nightmare that seems to be leading inexorably to the guillotine.

Maurice Cam's direction of the comedy is unfortunately a little too heavy-handed, with a tendency to underline every quirky moment with jaunty music and wide-eyed close-ups. In the hands of a better director, this might have been something quite wonderful, rather than what it is: a pleasant black comedy and a showcase for Berry's comic skills.

Watch out for a strange cameo by Jean Tissier, a character actor who was exceptionally prolific around this time. Here, he plays a psychiatric patient giving Berry's character a lesson in faking insanity. It's hard to detect any real justification for this scene, other than the simple fun of seeing two great eccentric actors chewing the scenery together.

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