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Monday, July 13, 2015

'The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe' U.S. DVD & BD Premieres: Classic French Spy v. Spy Farce


The recently launched "Classics" division, which is also behind the home video release of the recently reviewed highly sensual Ewan McGrgegor drama "The Pillow Book," of the extraordinary independent and foreign film distributor Film Movement keeps the hits coming with recent separate Blu-ray and DVD releases of the hilarious 1972 French farce "The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe." One can only hope that Movement also turns its attention to the 1974 sequel "The Return of the Tall Blond Man."

The numerous great things about the release of "Blond" extend well beyond this pre-hi-def film looking and sounding great in Blu-ray. Movement providing this chance to compare that film with the detestable 1985 Tom Hanks comedy "The Man With One Red Shoe" validates the theory that Hollywood almost always fails regarding remakes of the best from Europe. This is despite French national treasures writer director Yves Robert and writer Francis Veber working on both projects.

The awards for the critically and audience-acclaimed "Blond" include a 1973 Silver Berlin Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival and a 1973 "Top Foreign Films" award from the U.S. National Board of Review.

The absurdity that sets the stage for the ensuing hilarity in "Blond" relates to a not-so-professional rivalry between two officials in the French secret service. This leads to ensnaring purely randomly selected violinist Francois Perrin in their game. This aspect of  the film and the callous disregard for the well-being of Perrin (as well as the more general elements of farce) evokes thoughts of the '80s comedy "Trading Places."

The false identification of Perrin as an intelligence asset leads to concurrent surveillance that would make the NSA proud and an equally amusing investigation directed at discovering what makes Perrin of interest to the French government. Throwing in a sultry blonde bombshell to seduce Perrin strongly contributes to the tres francasie vibe of "Blond."

The particularly hilarious moments are too good to spoil but center around overheard surveillance, the aforementioned seduction, a very funny effort to follow a bicycling Perrin, and the general mayhem that surrounds Perrin. The exceptional lack of awareness of that character regarding the surrounding chaos throws a nice sense of the classic "The Pink Panther" films into the mix.

Like other wonderful films of this sub-genre, "Blond" climaxes with escalating antics. The body count seems to escalate at the same rate as the laughs.

The special features include the original theatrical trailer and a new essay by film expert Nick Pinkerton.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Blond" is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.