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  For a Cop's Hide Delon goes detecting, Parillaud goes commando
Year: 1981
Director: Alain Delon
Stars: Alain Delon, Anne Parillaud, Michel Auclair, Daniel Ceccaldi, Jean-Pierre Darras, Xavier Depraz, Pascale Roberts, Annick Alane, Pierre Belot
Genre: Comedy, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: After her blind daughter goes missing, an elderly woman hires Choucas (Alain Delon), an ex-cop turned private eye. The resourceful detective uncovers an elaborate scheme involving a ruthless gang of drug racketeers, but winds up framed for two murders. Pursued by every cop in Paris, Choucas rescues his sexy secretary Charlotte (Anne Parillaud) from a kidnap and rape. Together they uncover a shadowy allegiance between gangsters and corrupt cops, and Choucas realises he is being used.

Having produced and co-written many of his own star vehicles over the previous decade, Delon added directing to his resume with this entertaining thriller. It’s based on the novel Que d’Os by Jean-Patrick Manchette, who provided the source material for Three Men to Kill (1980) – a big hit for Delon. As director Delon doesn’t keep a firm grip on his wayward plot, which is sometimes hard to follow. He relies heavily upon exposition. Whenever Choucas takes a moment to clue his friends in on what’s going on, it’s a handy way of feeding the audience information. Unfortunately, it also means the movie stops too often to take a breath. That said, at least Delon attempts a plot of some complexity rather than a lazy star vehicle. He also stages some bravura fistfights, shootouts and car chases. A lot better than regular collaborator José Pinheiro does in Parole de Flic (1985).

Years before Luc Besson’s La femme Nikita (1990) won her international acclaim, Anne Parillaud proves a sassy, sultry co-star. She’s no airhead, holding her own against the bad guys and trading wisecracks with Delon’s dapper detective, although the script has Charlotte shrug off her rape too easily. Hardboiled thrillers often measure a hero’s toughness by how much pain he can dish out, and a heroine’s by how much she can endure. More often than not this means rape. Is this misogynist? Arguably so, but we are meant to admire her light-hearted resilience, whether realistic or not. A nice, quirky touch has Charlotte a movie buff, obsessively drawing parallels between this film’s plot and her favourite flicks. Curiously, the script often mentions she avoids underwear. Nice to know, Alain, but is this really relevant to the plot? Anyway, Parillaud provides great company and reunited with Delon for his second directorial outing Le Battant (1983), along with co-screenwriter Christopher Frank. British born Frank scripted a number of French thrillers, lightweight and similar to Charles Bronson’s B-grade actioners (He also wrote Malone (1987) an inept action vehicle for Burt Reynolds). However, Frank’s sole work as writer-director, Love in the Strangest Way (1994), an erotic thriller released one year after his death, is worth checking out.

Perhaps Delon’s strongest accomplishment with this movie is its wry sense of humour. Poking fun at his own screen persona as an indestructible, pretty boy, he ensures poor Choucas gets battered and bruised. A stooge for the cops, always on the run, he winds up in hospital, his handsome face in bandages, but laughs off his predicament. A nice moment of self-awareness and vulnerability from one of cinema’s great icons.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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