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Coup de Torchon (1981)

Coup de torchon (original title)
Not Rated | | Comedy, Crime, Drama | 4 November 1981 (France)
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A pathetic police chief, humiliated by everyone around him, suddenly wants a clean slate in life - and resorts to drastic means to do so.

Director:

Bertrand Tavernier
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Philippe Noiret ... Lucien Cordier
Isabelle Huppert ... Rose Marcaillou
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 Irène Skobline ... Anne - la nouvelle institutrice
Michel Beaune ... Vanderbrouck - un nouveau riche arrogant
Jean Champion Jean Champion ... Priest
Victor Garrivier Victor Garrivier ... Marcaillou
Gérard Hernandez Gérard Hernandez ... Leonelli
Abdoulaye Diop Abdoulaye Diop ... Fête Nat - le serviteur noir de Lucien
Daniel Langlet Daniel Langlet ... Paulo - un flic larvaire
François Perrot ... Le colonel Tramichel
Raymond Hermantier Raymond Hermantier ... L'aveugle
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Storyline

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). He is a washout, everyone (including his wife Huguette) humiliates him. He never arrests anyone and looks at elsewhere when a dirty trick occurs. But one day, he turns into a machiavellian exterminating angel. Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French | English

Release Date:

4 November 1981 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Coup de Torchon See more »

Filming Locations:

Saint-Louis, Senegal See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The singer Eddy Mitchell, in a major fictional role for the first time, thought he was so bad after watching the dailies that he insisted to do some of his scenes once again. Because no one would agree, he jokingly stated: "since I'm actually the richest one of the crew, I'll pay for all the scenes I'm allowed to do again" and was almost taken seriously. From then on, he never went to watch the dailies again. See more »

Goofs

Towards the end, Rose is walking on the pier and after they say in a loudspeaker 'Attention! Curfew tonight at 9 o'clock...', she turns around and the shadow of the cameraman can be clearly seen on the ground on her right. See more »

Quotes

[Le Peron and Leonelli are shooting at corpses floating in the river]
Lucien Cordier: What are you hunting?
Leonelli: Nothing, jerk. We're shooting stiffs.
Le Peron: Doesn't bother them and it's fun for us. When dysentery's cured, we'll find a new sport.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, we are correctly informed that the film is based on the novel "Pop. 1280"; but during the end titles, we are informed that it is based on "Pop. 1275". This is consistent with the official title retained for the translation into French, which is "1275 Ames" (literally: "1275 Souls"), and which reflects the fact that 5 people have died during the course of action. See more »

Connections

References L'affaire du courrier de Lyon (1937) See more »

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User Reviews

Noir, south of heaven
7 February 2011 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

I saw this as part of a Jim Thompson quest.

The film opens with a solar eclipse, a mythic way perhaps of foreshadowing the eclipse of humanity and values that follows. The West African setting is only proper in that aspect, like the setting of the Jim Thompson book, it's a doomed dusty limbo blotted out of the map where, in the absence of palpable law or ethos, humans are allowed to be the lowest they can be. Elsewhere the world is perhaps striving to maintain a moral appearance, but not so in Bourkassa, no one is looking there. Thompson had a dark view of humanity, for his own reasons, and for his protagonists, his crazed sheriffs and murderous sociopaths, he seems to reserve a last word that justifies their existence.

It's a really funny film, as a comedy it works marvels, and I like how Tavernier shifts the tone light to dark, goofy to perverse.

But what about Codier, the policeman of the small African town at the edge of the desert? Another reviewer reads in him a deranged figure of destiny that smites down people who deserve it, a vengeful Jesus placed on this earth not to save souls but to release them. But, even though his folly is obvious, the lack of retribution for his acts, the lack of a destiny to smite him, is it omission or statement? In an amoral universe that defies order, Codier is perhaps trying to maintain a perverse moral ground, or he's only serving his own bastard self, pushing his luck to see how far it will get him. If the film was a thriller it might have not worked, but I saw an absurd comedy foremost, and the laughter of that amoral universe is also echoed in Codier himself.

When he goes on on his little soliloquis on existence, Tavernier reaches for a solemn tone that seems strange at first, but at least we can understand that this murderous buffoon is no better than anyone else around him. He's likable because he suffers indignity with the nonchalance of a Mr. Hulot, but the next day he'll wake up a coward killer and scumbag. This contrast and his own belief in the incorrigible of his actions makes the movie work.

Perhaps he's so successful at being a scumbag, because the rest of the world permits it. If everyone else around him is either a moron or a scumbag, why should he strive to be any better? As a human being he's pathetic, but as a movie character I find him fascinating to watch. The fatalism that everyone gets what he deserves and there's no escaping the cogs of fate is the icing here.


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