Saturday, October 3, 2009

Il était une fois un flic... (1971)

This comedy thriller by Georges Lautner is very entertaining, with solid cast and nice soundtrack by Eddie Vartan. After the death of Maurice Lopez, a drug dealer, Commissaire Campana (Michel Constantin) takes the identity of Lopez's brother to go to Nice and infiltrate the organization led by Pascal Manoni. Campana is single, so the undercover is not easy for him as the real Louis Lopez has a wife and a son, and the local police tail him all the time, suspecting him for murders which happen around him. Campana will soon know that there is a war between 2 gangs: Italian and American, fighting over the control of drug. When he finally can meet Manoni, the Italian is assassinated by 2 American killers.

Perhaps it's not difficult to find 2 Americans in Nice. At first the French police get a wrong couple and realize that not all "two American men seen in Nice" are the murderers they are looking for. Again, it's not difficult because 2 men who ask for English newspapers are rare in Nice, as can be seen on a hotel's breakfast table. The dangerous Americans can escape with the help of fire-brigade, right under the nose of the French police. However, when Campana hears that his 'wife' and 'son' have been kidnapped, he doesn't hesitate to confront them alone, like a bull, complete with the ¡Ole! I must say that this 'matador' scene is my most favourite in the film.

Mireille Darc plays the false wife and she is wonderful here. Perhaps she is Georges Lautner's favourite actress as they have many projects together. I think I've never seen Michel Constantin in a comedy before. Every time I hear his name, I think of one of the prisoners in 'Le trou'. He is great here as a single man who slowly feels comfortable with his new family. A child's cry when having a nightmare, the noise of police car toy when he needs to sleep or is having a phone call, extra expenses for cheese they don't need because the boy collects the pictures, the obligation to tell bedtime stories, having to wait before using the toilet... he goes through all these well.

Alain Delon made a cameo, as someone who rings the bell of Campana's apartement by error, because he is looking for Rodriguez who lives on the 3rd floor. Mireille Darc opens the door and Delon seems quite surprised to see how beautiful the woman who is standing in front of him. After knowing that he has made a mistake, Delon says 'Thanks' and leaves. Constantin asks Darc, 'Who was it?' 'None,' she answers.

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