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The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe
The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe.jpg
Theatrical release poster
FrenchLe Grand Blond avec une chaussure noire
Directed byYves Robert
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyRené Mathelin
Edited byGhislaine Desjonqueres
Music byVladimir Cosma
Distributed byGaumont Distribution
Release date
  • 6 December 1972 (1972-12-06)
Running time
90 minutes

The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (French: Le Grand Blond avec une chaussure noire) is a 1972 French spy comedy film directed by Yves Robert and written by Robert and Francis Veber, starring Pierre Richard, Bernard Blier, Jean Rochefort and Mireille Darc. Pierre Richard reprised his rôle of François Perrin in the sequel titled The Return of the Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe released in 1974 and La Chèvre released in 1981.

The film was remade in English as The Man with One Red Shoe (1985), starring Tom Hanks and Dabney Coleman.


Bernard Milan, the second-in-command of France's Counter-Espionage department, is out to discredit his chief Louis Toulouse so that he can supplant him. When a French heroin smuggler who has been arrested in New York claims that the drug smuggling was a secret mission on the orders of French Counter-Espionage (actually on Milan's orders), the resulting bad press reflects on Toulouse, who cannot prove that Milan was responsible. In retaliation, Toulouse hatches a plot to deal with his ambitious subordinate: in a room which he knows is filled with hidden microphones, he sends his assistant Perrache to Orly airport at 9:30AM the next morning, making Milan (who has been listening) believe that Perrache has gone to meet a master spy who will expose Milan's treachery. However, Toulouse secretly instructs Perrache to choose someone at random from the crowd of travelers arriving at that time.

After considering several possibilities from the flight arriving at the specified time, Perrache selects François Perrin, an unsuspecting violinist, who is noticeable because, as the result of a practical joke played on him by his fellow orchestra members, he has arrived wearing a black shoe on one foot and a reddish-brown one on the other. Milan takes the bait and immediately begins a series of attempts to discover what Perrin knows—never realizing the fact that Perrin knows nothing at all about espionage (although he is an expert on music). Milan's machinations place Perrin in a series of increasingly peculiar adventures which he either avoids or escapes from by pure luck (which only confirm Milan's increasingly paranoid suspicions), and although Perrin is largely oblivious to the mayhem occurring around him, he cannot help noticing Milan's top agent, the beautiful femme fatale Christine. Adding to the confusion is the fact that Perrin is having an affair with Paulette Lefebvre, the wife of his best friend Maurice (both of whom are musicians in the same orchestra as Perrin), and Maurice, upon accidentally hearing a recording of Perrin and Paulette having torrid sex (made by Milan's agents and listened to inside a floral delivery truck), jumps to the mistaken conclusion that Paulette is having an affair with a florist. All the time, Toulouse and Perrache watch the chaos serenely, although Perrache is troubled by his chief's callousness toward the risk that Perrin might be killed.

Christine greets Perrin at her apartment's front door in a demure high-necked black-velvet dress, then turns around and shows that the dress is backless, displaying discreet buttock cleavage. A slapstick love scene (watched by Milan and his cohorts on a television monitor) ensues, concluding with Milan's decision (despite Christine's belief that Perrin could not possibly be an agent) to have Perrin eliminated. More mayhem (including Maurice's learning the truth about his wife's affair) and treachery (including Christine's defection from Milan's group to save Perrin, with whom she has fallen in love) follow, climaxing in the deaths of not only agents from both Toulouse's and Milan's groups but also Milan himself, who only learns the truth about Perrin from Perrache just before he dies. Realizing how he has been fooled, Milan dies with a smile of appreciation. Maurice, who has repeatedly walked in on the aftermaths of the shoot-outs in Perrin's apartment, suffers a total mental breakdown.

The film ends as it began, at Orly airport. Perrin pushes a huge Louis Vuitton steamer trunk in an airport luggage cart, talking softly to Christine, who is hidden inside. Their destination is Rio de Janeiro. Toulouse, who has been watching Perrin's departure on a monitor, instructs Perrache to contact Perrin when Perrin returns, remarking, "After all, he handles himself pretty well."


The film won the Silver Bear award at the 23rd Berlin International Film Festival in 1973.[1] It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film by the U.S. National Board of Review.[2]



  1. ^ "Berlinale 1973: Prize Winners". Retrieved 2010-06-29.
  2. ^ "1973 Award Winners". National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. 2019. Retrieved 9 June 2019.

External links

This page was last edited on 21 May 2022, at 12:47
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