From the start, this movie is gripping. Albert Le Cagneux (played by Michel Serrault), a thief, is breaking into Philippe d'Artois (Jean Poiret)'s house. As Philippe is not gone to bed yet, Albert is caught red handed. However, Philippe offers the thief a deal, that he will pay him 200,000 francs, if Albert helps him to commit suicide. Next, Philippe tells Albert his story.
10 years ago, Philippe falls in love with beautiful a woman whom he saves from drowning at sea. They separate, but he doesn't know her name, where she is staying, or the colour of her hair. He searches at every hotel and bar in Deauville, but finally finds that she is his old friend's wife, Madeleine. Her husband, Jean, terrorizes everyone, so Madeleine is happy with Philippe, who always finds new ideas. Jean finally finds out about the affair and he pretends to go out the night when Madeline is waiting for Philippe to come. In the same time, Albert the thief breaks into Jean's house. When Jean storms in and confronts Madeleine, Philippe hides, and Albert comes to help Madeleine. Too late, Madeline is dead by Jean and Jean is shot by Philippe, who then puts his pistol into Albert's pocket and jumps out of the window. The police comes and Albert is jailed for murder.
The trial scene is ridiculous. The wrong witness is brought to the court and his dialogues are very long. The judge should have stopped him much sooner. I love it, though, how this witness points to the court how the wooden fence (where witness is called to stand. I don't know what it's called.) should be fixed.
After jumping out of window, Philippe gets into his car and hits a tree. He is in comma in hospital and later is sent to a mental hospital, where he meets interesting people, including a kleptomaniac Russian countess. From the newspaper, Philippe learns about the poor Albert and decides to take his place as a thief. He cooperates with the countess. First they steals a diamond, but after realizing that the countess steals his part, he works alone.
From this part, the movie shows the art of deceiving, and the most interesting one for me is when Philippe steals the Corot painting.
Back to the present. Philippe learns from today's newspaper that Albert has been released from jail and guesses that the thief's first step is to find the man who framed him 10 years ago. He feels so distressed that he wants to commit suicide. By this point, Albert tells Philippe who he really is. The ending scene is a shock, which shows that Phillipe is really the top of his class.
This movie is very good and I hope TV5 will show more works of Sacha Guitry. His other work I have seen is only La poison.