Kidnapping, murder and plagiarism


I plonked the top image on Twitter because I thought it was a striking line, and Fredrik Gustaffson immediately spotted where it was stolen from and posted the original.

FOLLI A TUER and FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. They don’t really have anything to do with one another so I’d call it a swipe rather than a hommage. But swipes are, in a way, more admirable: the filmmaker is simply trying to make his film better than he’d be able to do using his own imagination alone. Hommages are a bit masturbatory.

So, follow Fredrik, you are unlikely to regret it.

Yves Boisset, the swiper in question (unless he got the line from his source novel, Jean-Patrick Manchette’s O Dingos…O Chateaux), seems unable to frame an attractive shot, and crams his compositions with ugly sets, costumes and a few ugly people, but this is in fact a very good thriller with a little extra philosophy/character.


Marlene Jobert, last seen (by me) in René Clement’s RIDER ON THE RAIN, always seems to be having rather a hard time of it. She’s released from a psychiatric hospital some years after killing a man in (as yet) unexplained circs, goes to work for millionaire Michael Lonsdale (seems nice enough, what could go wrong?) as nanny to his disturbed charge, Thomas Waintrop. A terrific little actor but a bit of a handful. Plus, all of Lonsdale’s domestic staff seem to have been recruited from the asylum or the penitentiary: his elevator boy was a cat killer, and his chauffeur a serial rapist. What’s going on here?

Then Jobert and Waintrop are kidnapped by Tomas Milian and things get really bad. I can’t offhand recall a child or child actor being put through so much slapping and threatening in a film. The movie seems misanthropic (and opens with a quote from WC Fields) but has a lot of heart, too. Diseased heart, possibly.


Worth a peek.

FOLIE A TUER stars Mélancolie Mau; Tepepa; Hugo Drax; Gustave Dominici; Warok; and Col. Günther Reza.

12 Responses to “Kidnapping, murder and plagiarism”

  1. Michael Lonsdale, I’m on board. He’s been everywhere, but I always remember him for his two scenes in Ronin, where he has to become the nadir of the film, giving a truly terrible speech about the titular samurai. He just takes it on the chin and delivers the dialogue over a bunch of little toys.

  2. Yes, he can do no wrong. And his sly deadpan makes him the finest avatar of the Bunuelesque.

  3. ariane pouchkine Says:

    The film is rather good, thanks to its actors and writer Jean Patrick Manchette, who wrote terrific noir novels (very funny too, but maybe their black humor gets lost in translation). Manchette was a huge classic cinema fan, but I’m not sure it was a homage, more likely an unconscious swipe. He once wrote chronicles about new releases, and films on tv, in the magazine “Charlie Hebdo”, ca. 1979-1981.
    his texts – virulent, erudite, playful, and caustic – bear no resemblance to cultural criticism for promotional purposes. These chronicles are available in France in the book “Les Yeux de la momie”. “The eyes of the mummy”. And, yes, this time, it’s a conscious homage.

  4. ariane pouchkine Says:

    BTW, the title is “Folle à tuer” ;), which has a double meaning in French: crazy to the point of killing, and the crazy one to kill.

  5. David Ehrenstein Says:

    For me Michel Lonsdale will always be “Le Vice-Consul de France a Lahore” in “India Song” screaming “ANNA MARIA GUARDI!” and/or the director of the “Prometheus Bound” company who is a secret member of “Les13” in “Out 1”

  6. There are a couple of Out1 players in this, Jean Bouise being the head of the psychiatric hospital.

    Boisset seems otherwise to have preferred political thrillers, but this has a certain amount in common with his later Canecule, with Lee Marvin: crime and madness are universal in both.

  7. That rather incredible Helene Cattet – Bruno Forzani creation from a few years back, LET THE CORPSES TAN, was based on a Manchette novel, which seems to make sense. A surprising number of his other novels were adapted during the 1970s and early 80s: I wasn’t aware until recently that Chabrol’s NADA was based on Manchette’s book of the same name. There’s an English-language version of THE PRONE GUNMAN with Sean Penn, but I don’t think it did very well.

  8. I could imagine Penn screwing something like that up (he’s co-writer), but then, I can imagine him screwing lots of things up.

  9. Yeah, THE GUNMAN feels like a standard TAKEN riff, with none of the weirdness of LET THE CORPSES TAN.

  10. I’m looking to see what Manchette is available in English… hmm, a Jacques Tardi comic book collaboration…

  11. There are several Manchette novels in the New York Review Books Classics series, though I’m not sure how easily accessible they are in the UK; they include The Mad and the Bad, the source novel here.

  12. I just discovered he wrote sorta pornos for Max Pecas, a semi-interesting smut pedlar filmmaker. Only available via Something Weird Video, so probably poor quality copies, a shame since I seem to recall Pecas’ films are fairly good-looking. And they’re crime stories as well as skinflicks, seemingly.

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