When the Tom Hanks film The Man with One Red Shoe was released in 1985, I remember Leonard Nimoy saying on his show “Standby: Lights, Camera, Action”, that it was based on a French film called The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe. I never saw the Hanks film, but something about that introduction intrigued me enough to want to see the French original. 25 years later, I finally got to see it.
Released one year after The French Connection, and while the Pink Panther series was still riding a wave of popularity, The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe is a spoof of the spy and police genres. While this is what could be called a “sophisticated comedy” overall, director Yves Robert doesn’t shy away from some overblown situations and occasional slapstick touches. The story centers on an orchestra violinist who is chosen at random from a crowded in an airport to be a red herring in an ongoing feud between two rival factions in the French counter-intelligence force. The tall blond guy remains happily oblivious to the cloak and dagger danger which surrounds him at every corner, as he agonizes over what to do about the affair he is having with the wife of his best from and orchestra colleague. The tall blond guy is one of the few people to survive to the end of the film, yet he remains completely oblivious to all the destruction which has gone on around him, or the fact that his complete history and every move is being monitored by governmental agencies. The film end with a quote of Article 9 of the French constitution: “Everyone is entitled to a private life.”
The Return of the Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (1974)
The first film became a surprise it in France as well as the US, and a sequel followed two years later. Things change quite a bit in the second installment, which is set mostly in Brazil, where the tall blond guy has run off with Christine, a beautiful agent who was sent to spy on him in the first film. While he was a talented musician, but completely hapless in almost all other matters in the first film, he appears as a somewhat cooler guy in vacation mode in the second film, and again unwittingly conquers the bad guys without even knowing what he had done.