3 user 8 critic

Le coup du berger (1956)

When an unfaithful wife receives a fur coat from her lover as a gift, they must figure out a way to keep the husband from discovering the coat's true origins.


Jacques Rivette


Jacques Rivette (scenario and dialogue), Claude Chabrol (scenario and dialogue) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview:
Virginie Vitry Virginie Vitry ... Claire
Anne Doat ... Solange, la soeur de Claire
Jacques Doniol-Valcroze Jacques Doniol-Valcroze ... Jean, le mari (as Etienne Loinod)
Jean-Claude Brialy ... Claude, l'amant


When an unfaithful wife receives a fur coat from her lover as a gift, they must figure out a way to keep the husband from discovering the coat's true origins.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Comedy | Romance


Did You Know?


Although this film has an identical plot to "Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat" by Road Dahl (later filmed by Alfred HItchcock as part of Alfred HItchcock Presents), the short story was published in 1959, three years after this film was made. Both are based on a popular anecdote that dates back to at least 1939. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: The moral of the story: A good chess player is always one move ahead of his opponent. A classic example: The move called the Scholar's mate. Only a beginner will fall for it. It's her move.
[referring to Claire]
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Featured in Les Mistons (1957) See more »


Les Jeunes Seigneurs
Music by François Couperin
Harpsichord: Eta Harich-Schneider
Urania recording
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User Reviews

Rivette's first 35 mm, sound short is a charming trifle
13 January 2009 | by OldAle1See all my reviews

Claire (Virginie Vitry) is a chic young Parisian woman married to a somewhat older husband, Claude (Jacques Doniol-Valcroze). As this 28-minute trifle opens, she leaves her husband playing baroque music at the piano, telling him she is off to see her sister, Solange. In reality she meets her lover, Jean (Jean-Claude Brialy) at his apartment; after some idle chatter and love-making he tells her a story of the shriveled heads that the Jivaro indians used to give their lovers as tokens of affection but as she shivers in disgust, he gives her a mink instead. How will they hide it from her husband though? An elaborate scheme involving hiding it at a bus terminal where the husband himself will find it and bring it home is concocted but alas the husband is wiser than they think...

A playful and charming little piece seemingly indebted to noir in its conspiratorial storyline and photography - though much lighter than true noir, co-written by Rivette with Charles Bitsch and Claude Chabrol, who appears in a cameo in a party sequence at the end along with Rivette, Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, this is Rivette's 4th and last short (28 minutes) before he turned to features. It's his first in 35mm with sound, and the photography (black and white) and mise en scene are quite accomplished if for the most part unspectacular. Several of his trademarks do show up here, including the interest in games and play-acting, conspiracies and young love; also in its use of diagetic sound - as far as I can tell all of the music in the film is by the baroque composer François Couperin, but it is heard as part of a typical mimetic sound-scheme, played on the piano in the first scene, and played on record in later scenes. The film is framed as a story of a chess-game, narrated briefly at various points by the director who comments on the story in a droll, ironic manner that reminds me more of early Godard than of Rivette's other work.

Certainly not a great work but a fascinating and entertaining enough little piece that should be seen by all lovers of the director's work. Part of an indispensable South Korean DVD (with subtitles in English) called "Their First Films" which also has early shorts by Godard, Resnais, Truffaut, Melville etc, mostly in very good to excellent prints. The picture, sound and subtitles on the Rivette are probably as good as you could reasonably hope for.

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Release Date:

November 1956 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Fool's Mate See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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