Film / Les Tontons Flingueurs

Les Tontons Flingueurs (sometimes known as Crooks in Clover in English) is a cult French film directed by Georges Lautner released in 1963. A gangster comedy, its memorable dialogues were written by Michel Audiard. The cast includes Lino Ventura, Bernard Blier and Francis Blanche.

Fernand Naudin, a former mobster, returns to Paris at the urging of a dying friend, "the Mexican", who appoints him his successor at the head of his criminal gang. However, the Mexican's former lieutenants resent Fernand's promotion and try to get rid of him. But even more problematic, Fernand finds himself saddled with the Mexican's daughter Patricia, a rebellious, flighty and playful teenage girl whom he now has to care for.


  • Adaptation Displacement: invoked The film was adapted from the novel Grisbi or not Grisbi by Albert Simonin, but is much more well-known than the original work.
  • Amoral Attorney: Though not evil, Maître Folace is a notary who works for the Mexican's criminal gang.
  • Anti-Hero: Fernand. He's a Reformed Criminal, though he still tries to keep his legit businesses as legal as possible while dealing with the Mexican's legacy, which he isn't even interested in.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Antoine's father.
  • Batman Gambit: Theo pulls one on Fernand to get rid of the Volfoni brothers, while trying to kill him.
  • Battle Butler: Jean keeps guns at hand at various places in the house, just in case.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Patricia, according to Maître Folace.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Antoine's father.
  • Covert Pervert: Antoine's father, who has a taste for maids and appreciates a few nudes during his visit to Fernand.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Theo, Pascal, Fernand...
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Technicolor became widespread in French cinema in the early 1950s. This movie was filmed in black and white to retain an old school gangster movie atmosphere.
  • Entendre Failure: Patricia was told by her father that "Fernand got me out of deep water", which she assumes involved rescue from drowning.
  • Everybody Smokes: As per 60s standard.
  • Gargle Blaster: The film contains probably the most famous example of this trope in French cinema, in which the various characters partake of a bootleg hooch their gang used to distribute and talk about their Glory Days. In France, the line under the image there is regarded as a must-know in polite cultured conversation.
    Maître Folace: We had to stop making it because consumers were going blind. It got us in no end of trouble.
  • Gratuitous English: Various untranslated English phrases (usually horribly mispronounced) pepper the dialogues. Jean the majordomo affects to speak English in order to look more like a British butler, but he is the one who mispronounces the most.
  • The Gunslinger: Pascal.
  • Hollywood Silencer: The silencers make various "bleep" sounds for comedic effect. A common thing in French gangster comedies of the '60s and '70s.
  • Last Request: The Mexican, to Fernand.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Everyone during the silencers shoot-out.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains: The Volfoni brothers; borders on the Butt Monkey for Raoul.
  • Insufferable Genius: Antoine Delafoy (Patricia's boyfriend).
  • The Mafia: The Volfoni brothers.
  • Miss Kitty: Madame Mado.
  • Mob War
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Mexican.
  • Reformed Criminal:
    • Fernand.
    • Jean (the majordomo) is a former burglar, whom the Mexican caught red-handed as he was trying to force open his safe. In compensation, he was forced to work for a while as unpaid help, and when the time was up, decided to keep the job.
  • Retired Badass: Fernand.
  • Running Gag: Raoul gets punched by Fernand each time he opens a door.
  • Same Language Dub: German actress Sabine Sinjen (who plays Patricia) was dubbed by French actress Valérie Lagrange.
  • Shout-Out: The kitchen scene is a reference to Key Largo.
  • The '60s: The movie was made during the Gaullist era (1958-1969), and it shows. Maître Folace refers to the "nouveau franc" (the then French monetary unit since 1958), and Patricia throws a party with yé-yé music.
  • Sounding It Out: Fernand with the Mexican's telegram.
  • The Starscream: Theo.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: "Touche pas au grisbi, salope!"
  • Unproblematic Prostitution: Prostitution is discussed as a business venture, Madame Mado lamenting the competition of other countries for the girls and of the television for the clients. Even Patricia casually talks about human trafficking with Raoul.
  • Wild Teen Party: Patricia throws one with her friends, which explains why the house is empty of regular booze by the time the kitchen scene takes place.