Film / Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez

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Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez is a 1964 French comedy film starring Louis de Funès. The film takes place in Saint-Tropez, a fashionable resort on the French Riviera. De Funès plays Ludovic Cruchot, the sergeant of the local brigade of gendarmerie (a French police force).

The film proved very popular with audiences (and not at all with critics) and has spawned five sequels over two decades:

  • Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez (1964): Ludovic Cruchot has been re-assigned to the Mediterranean seaside commune of Saint-Tropez under the orders of command sergeant major Gerber (played by Michel Galabru). He is tasked to hunt down and arrest nudists. Meanwhile, a Rembrandt painting has been stolen.

  • Le Gendarme à New York (The Gendarme in New York, 1965): The gendarmes of St. Tropez are invited to New York City to a law enforcement conference.

  • Le Gendarme se marie (The Gendarme Gets Married, 1968): Cruchot meets Josépha, a widow and they quickly fall in love. But Cruchot's daughter doesn't like Josépha and is determined to prevent the wedding by all means necessary.

  • Le Gendarme en balade (The Gendarme to Stroll, 1970): The gendarmes are forced into retirement to make way for a younger breed, and they don't react very well to it. Even so, when they learn that one of them has had an accident and has become amnesiac, they reunite to help him get his memory back.

  • Le Gendarme et les extra-terrestres (The Gendarme and the Extra-Terrestrials, 1978): Cruchot has discovered that aliens have arrived in the town in a Flying Saucer. The aliens (which are made of metal) can duplicate the forms of humans and have telekinesis powers. They promptly impersonate the policemen, which soon creates confusion.

  • Le Gendarme et les gendarmettes (The Gendarme and the Gendarmettes, 1982): Four young and beautiful female police officers come to learn from the old gendarmes but it turns out they are coping much better with problems than their teachers (the fact that the entire old male brigade is Distracted by the Sexy doesn't help). Things get hotted up when the "gendarmettes" are kidnapped one by one.


The Gendarme series provides examples of:

  • The '60s: The Gendarme of Saint-Tropez, The Gendarme in New York and The Gendarme Gets Married were set in that decade.
  • The '70s: The Gendarme to Stroll and The Gendarme and the Extra-Terrestrials.
  • The '80s: The Gendarme and the Gendarmettes. While the uniforms of the gendarmes haven't changed much in two decades, they are now equipped with a brand-new computer.
  • Accidental Pervert: Cruchot is mistaken for a pervert several times in Le Gendarme et les gendarmettes. Notably by the Mother Superior of the convent (where the Gendarmettes are bunking), and by his wife Josépha.
  • Agony of the Feet: Gerber in the first movie, from a pétanque ball thrown by Cruchot.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: The Mother Superior borrows Cruchot's "Foutez-moi l'camp ! Foutez-moi l'camp !" in Le Gendarme et les gendarmettes.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Nicole (Geneviève Grad), Cruchot's daughter.
  • Butt-Monkey: Everyone in the brigade has been this at some point in the series. Amongst the cast, Fougasse stands out by being picked to infiltrate the nudist camp or repeatedly getting rushed to the hospital while visiting New York.
  • Carload of Cool Kids: It happens twice in the first film:
    • Nicole is a policeman's daughter. When they move to Saint-Tropez from a mountain village, her strict father forbids her to wear revealing clothes. She is an object of ridicule for a bunch of wealthy guys and girls because of her fashion sense. Second time Nicole meets them, they drive in a convertible, slowly following her as she walks down a marina. Nicole fights back and lies that she's a millionare's daugher and claims that her dress is a hot hit in Hawaii.
    • The group, squeezed in their favourite vehicle, make fun of an older guy who drives a small car. They follow him and accidentally bump in his car. A policeman (Nicole's father's subordinate) stands close by, and Nicole, now part of the popular group, manages to make him believe that it was the older guy's fault.
  • Chase Scene: Usually one per film. Often involves Sister Clotilde and her fast-driving talents.
  • Da Chief: Gerber, essentially.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Josépha in The Gendarme and the Gendarmettes, upon seeing her husband distracted by the young female police officers.
    Josépha: I will kill him, I will kill myself, and then I will demand divorce!
  • Contrived Coincidence: In The Gendarme in New York, Cruchot keeps running into his daughter Nicole (who has traveled to New York in secret), while she's supposed to have stayed in Saint-Tropez. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Les Cops Sportif: The main characters are gendarmes.
  • Disguised in Drag: In the last movie, Cruchot disguises as a Gendarmette as bait for the bad guys, rather than letting his wife take the role.
  • The Ditz: Most of the brigade besides Cruchot and Gerber, usually.
    • Fougasse (Jean Lefebvre) in the early films.
    • Beaupied (Maurice Risch) in the last films.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Cruchot, when training the lower-ranked gendarmes back into shape to arrest the nudists. They actually miss the discipline when they're in New York. Gerber and Cruchot are only happy to oblige.
  • Drives Like Crazy:
    • Sister Clotilde (France Rumilly), a very enthusiastic nun who rides a Citroën 2CV. Just watch. By the way, she's myopic.
    • In a later movie, it's a younger nun at the wheel... unfortunately:
      Sister Clotilde: I taught her everything!
    • Cruchot himself isn't the most prudent of drivers, especially when stressed (i.e. most of the time).
    • Josépha during her arrival in Saint-Tropez. Cruchot wants her arrested for this until he learns who she is, and before falling in love with her.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Ludovic Maryvonne Cruchot? (For the non-francophones: yup, that's a girl's name.)
  • Evil Cripple: The Big Bad of the last movie is wheelchair-bound.
  • Glad I Thought of It: Gerber is prone to do this with Cruchot's ideas, most memorably in The Gendarme Gets Married.
  • Happily Married: Cruchot and Josépha.
  • Instant Convertible: Done by Sister Clotilde with a wooden barrier, during one of her Drives Like Crazy moments. It's only part of the complete trashing she proceeds to inflict on her poor 2CV.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Yes, it is indeed (the z is silent). In The Gendarme to Stroll, there is even a gag with Fougasse being unable to pronounce "Saint-Tropez" right.
  • Large Ham: Cruchot, hands down. He often competes with Gerber, leading to Ham-to-Ham Combat, particularly in the last films.
  • Meddlesome Patrolmen: About all the protagonists.
  • Monochrome to Color: The opening of the first movie, set in a small village of the French Alps, is in black and white. Then it switches to color with the arrival in the much more colorful town of Saint-Tropez.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Nudists are often the targets of the Gendarmes. Fougasse is not that happy with the idea of infiltrating them.
  • Nervous Wreck: Cruchot. He's played by Louis de Funès so it's a given.
  • Nuns Are Funny: Sister Clotilde is a nun with a bubbly personality. She wears a white frock and a funny-looking hat. Cruchot meets when he is hitchhiking as he needs to get to Saint-Tropez. Too bad she drives like crazy, has a comically small vehicle and is extremely myopic, but wears no glasses. Makes an appearance in the following movies of the series, too, often with other nuns. We later find out she has become Mother Superior.
  • Once per Episode: Or per Movie...
    • Some Chase Scene or other fast-paced car ride with Sister Clotilde at the wheel (except in The Gendarme in New York; Cruchot does meet Sister Clotilde in New York, but wisely declines to have her drive him).
    • Every movie also ends with the gendarmes taking part in some parade in Saint-Tropez.
  • Plucky Girl: Sister Clotilde is always seen smiling and is never running out of positive words for Cruchot, and always insists on helping him with her car.
  • Police Are Useless: Usually, when the Gendarmes must face a challenge or a threat for the first time they're utterly useless, until Cruchot finds a way to deal with it properly.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser:
    • Cruchot, while at the same time being odious to underlings.
    • Fougasse, when it is believed Cruchot replaced Gerber.
    • Gerber can indulge in this too.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At the climax of the first film, Cruchot ends up dressed for a quick gag like the hero of Thierry la Fronde (a French TV series of the same period, basically a Gallic version of Robin Hood) along with the iconic music of said show.
    • The Gendarme in New York has a whole Spontaneous Choreography sequence inspired by West Side Story.

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