Blu-Ray Review: The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (1973)
Film Movement Classics
This the first title I’ve had the pleasure of seeing from Film Movement Classics, which is a new imprint from Film Movement, which specializes in restorations of repertory titles. Recently, Film Movement, which first came to my attention for its film-of-the-month club, has been expanding its brand. First, came Ram Releasing with its focus on genre cinema, namely horror thus far. Then came Omnibus Entertainment which has a broader genre view as cited here. It’s an exciting time and bringing back older films, in new glorious restorations and transfers to an audience that mat not have know the film is the kind of important work you’d expect a company like Film Movement to do as they tend to unearth gems no matter what banner it flies under.
The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe
The film in question is Yves Robert’s 1972 espionage farce The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (Le grand blond avec une chaussure noir), my lack of familiarity with this film, and my subsequent admiration for it after having seen it, prove the above statements to be true and not merely lip service. Without Film Movement Classics launching I may not have even heard of this film much less gotten a chance to see it so that’s victory in and of itself. The fact that it’s an exquisitely crafted comedy whose gags are fairly smart, well-executed, and continue to roll without being an encumbrance to the plot are a massive bonus.
The film is positively hilarious and takes a fairly simple concept of mistaken identity, in this case rather fabricated one, as the man in question is the subject of scrutinous investigations by chance; an innocent caught in the crossfire of a professional rivalry between high-ranking spies. It also manages to do that and keep François (Pierre Richard) blissfully oblivious such that it not only makes it impossible to pity his situation but also renders those who believe is what he’s purported to be (a spy) seem further buffoonish.
The film works sight gags in a fashion that is eternally accessible and hilarious, and does indeed make gorgeous use of visual storytelling from Parisian backdrops, to instrument-adorned apartment walls, ornate opera houses and spy offices.
Add to that the catchy, cheeky score by Vladimir Cosma, the physical virtuosity of Pierre Richard, and the clockwork precision of the script crafted by Yves Robert and Francis Veber and you have an unqualified comedic success.
The bonus features aren’t plentiful but they are well done. Aside from being able to take a glimpse at the movie marketing of another time and country with the film’s trailer there are trailers of other Film Movement offerings that are worth considering.
In an age when physical media is fighting for survival its rarer than ever to see packaging that goes a little above and beyond, but this disc is definitely one of those. It also includes a booklet with other Film Movement titles, but more noticeably there is one featuring a wonderfully written essay by Nick Pinkerton with a lot of great insights and information that I dare not spoil here.
Those who know the film will re-discover it in a gorgeous 2K restoration, and those who are discovering it for the first time will see the best possible version of it to first take it in. If you are a fan of spy films or just like a good laugh this newly re-released title is one to get familiar with.