The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (1973)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Errors, Spy Comedy, Farce  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - France   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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An unpretentious and thoroughly engaging spy comedy, The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe is, quite simply, a lot of fun. This is a lot harder to pull off than one might suspect, as can be witnessed with a quick viewing of the inferior "Americanization," The Man with One Red Shoe, which exerts a lot of effort to be funny and charming and ends up feeling a tad desperate. Blond, on the other hand, is a perfect, light soufflé of a movie. As with all soufflés, even the slightest variation from the recipe can bring about dismal results, but Blond's co-writer/director, Yves Robert, makes sure that this never happens. It's telling that, even though Blond is a farce, it's not a screamingly funny film. There are some moments that are hilarious, but most of the laughs are solid and appreciative, rather than hysterical. Yet, the viewer leaves the film more than satisfied, for the laughs are all part of an entertaining whole. While his characters are not needlessly complicated, they are presented as individuals about whom the viewer has very strong feelings -- affection for Francois, contempt for Milan, curiosity for Toulouse, etc. This makes the viewer feel invested in their fates, a necessary ingredient for almost any film, but especially for a plot-heavy farce. Blond's biggest asset, however, is its title actor. Pierre Richard is simply delightful, a bumbling, naïve innocent who elicits immediate affection almost from the start. His timing is impeccable, he can be both nuanced and over-the-top, and his physicals comedic skills are excellent. Jean Rochefort, Mireille Darc, Jean Carmet and the rest of the supporting cast are all very good -- but it's Richard's film all the way.