Francois is a mild mannered classical violinist who is just
about to have his life turned upside down. Not that Francois
has done anything wrong; however he does have friends who
have a penchant for practical jokes; so, when one of them
nails his shoes to the floor he turns up at the airport wearing
one brown shoe and one black. This in itself is not a problem
until France's security forces take this sign to mean that
Francois is an international spy. As they trail the oblivious
young man around Paris they are impressed how he is able to
blend into the background. Misinterpreting his every ordinary
action as magnificent duplicity, they finally set a femme
fatal on him to discover secrets that Francois just does not
The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe (Le Grand blond
Avec Une Chaussure Noire - 1972) is a comedy directed
by Yves Robert, a distinguished writer, actor and producer
since the early fifties, and written by Yves Robert and Francis
Veber. Veber is well known for his work on La
Cage aux Folles
(1978), which was remade as The Birdcage (1998) with
Robin Williams and Gene Hackman, and Mon Pere, Ce Heros
(1991) which started Gerard Depardieu and which was subsequently
remade as My Father the Hero (1994) with Depardieu,
again, in the leading role. The Tall Blond Man With One
Black Shoe won a Silver Berlin Bear Award for Yves Roberts
as well as a Golden Screen Award.
In fact if you were to list all the films that this duo have
had turned into so-so American versions you'd be surprised
just how many you have actually seem. In fact Le Grand
Blond avec une Chaussure was remade as The Man with
One Red Shoe (1985), which starred Tom Hanks, though to
be honest; director Stan Dragoti made such a hash of it that
I don't think anyone came away from the project happy. It's
a case of why try to fix something if it's not broken.
And therein lays the problem. Why bother to watch the second
hand versions of excellent European films that have been sanitised
and rehashed by the Hollywood system when here you have the
rather excellent original?
So what's so great about a plot which sounds like a remake
of The Intelligence Men (1965), well there's a great
script, excellent comic timing from the cast and a nice light
touch from the director.
Richard as Francois Perrin, the object of the spy's interest,
is perfect for the role. Tall, with a dishevelled mane of
hair, he goes about his day becoming more and more bemused
at the events happening around him. Beautiful women throw
themselves at him, bodies are dumped in his apartment and
worst of all his affair with his best friends wife is accidentally
broadcast out the back of a van, leading his friend to conclude
that his wife is having an affair with a florist in the back
of a van.
The films success spawned a sequel, which is also included
in the collection, a sequel that, if anything, is funnier
than the original.
Francois, having got the girl in the previous film - the beautiful
Christine - is once again embroiled in interdepartmental plot,
however this time he is less than happy to play the part of
the hapless pawn and sets some of his own plans into action.
The Return of the Tall Blond Man (Le Retour du Grand
Blond - 1974) features the same writers, director and
the vast bulk of the cast in another outing with the man with
one black shoe. Although similar to the first movie the increase
in physical humour raises it just above the first film.
These will certainly not be two of the deepest film you have
ever saw, but they might just be some of the funniest, certainly
up their with Blake Edwards' Pink Panther films.
Audio is French stereo with optional subtitles and the print
is good if not pristine. Extras are none existent.
these are two great comedy films by two masters of the art.
As with a lot of subtitled films there are a few niggles about
the translation being sanitised, but other than that this
is a great package. Shame about the extras though.