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  Return of the Tall Blond Man Blame It On Rio
Year: 1974
Director: Yves Robert
Stars: Pierre Richard, Jean Carmet, Jean Rochefort, Mireille Darc, Jean Bouise, Paul Le Person, Colette Castel, Henri Guybet, Hervé Sand, Jean Amos, Michel Duchaussoy
Genre: Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: After being embroiled with a complicated spy plot led by the head of the French Secret Service Colonel Toulouse (Jean Rochefort), our hapless hero, François Perrin (Pierre Richard), escaped to Rio de Janeiro with his new girlfriend Christine (Mireille Darc), a spy who meant to be checking up on him until they fell in love. That should have been the end of it, but now Toulouse is having difficulties with a government minister (Jean Bouise) demanding an enquiry into the matter, leaving the Colonel no choice but to arrange François' death...

Seeing as how The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe was such a hit, it's natural that most of the cast and crew should return to make, well, Return of the Tall Blond Man, or Le Retour du grand blond of you were French, in the hopes that lightning would strike twice. So it was that director Yves Robert and original co-writer Francis Veber crafted a direct sequel, occuring a mere three months after the first film ended, yet while there are those who prefer this to the first film, in truth it lacked a special spark of inspiration that made the concept so engaging.

Mainly this is because now François is in on the subterfuge, and without the great notion that drove the first instalment, that is that any innocent under intense scrutiny is bound to do something that looks suspicious to their scrutinisers, this is far more a straight spy spoof. There's even a parody of James Bond halfway through that sees Richard donning shades to look mysterious while Vladimir Cosma's cheerful theme tune turns into a pastiche of the more famous British secret agent's theme, although you never got Sean Connery knocking his shoe into a pot of paint.

That bit is included so Richard can wear mismatching shoes once again, a nice nod to the original; so while this one is pleasant enough and features some decent chuckles, it lacks the keen edge of the comedy setpieces that blessed its predecessor in spite of the same willing cast making a reappearance. It starts out well enough, with François unwittingly dodging assassin's bullets, but once he is brought back to France under Toulouse's orders, the humour goes off the boil.

The Colonel wishes to get himself out of trouble by setting up his enemies to believe that François is the crack secret agent they think he is, and so an overinvolved series of stagings ensues, the funniest of which has Richard trying out his kung fu skills on the wrong man and getting belted round the head by his wife's handbag for his trouble. Robert really seems to have a grudge against the secret services, and this is further to the fore in Return of the Tall Blond Man, but this note of bitterness thankfully does not swamp the story. It's just that some less perfunctory gags would have been more welcome compared to the well-worn stuff we do get here. Mildly amusing, then, but not essential unless you are a huge fan of the first.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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