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Film / La Chèvre

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La Chèvre (literally "The Goat"), titled Knock on Wood internationally, is a 1981 French comedy film directed by Francis Veber, starring Gérard Depardieu and Pierre Richard. Vladimir Cosma composed the soundtrack.

Marie, the daughter of French businessman Alexandre Bens, is kidnapped while she is on holiday in Mexico. Her father hires a detective, Campana (Depardieu), to investigate the case, but he comes back to France empty-handed. Mr Bens then decides to send Campana back to Mexico with one of his employees, François Perrin (Richard), because he noticed that François Perrin is as unlucky as his daughter, so he thinks he might encounter the same problems as she did.

An American remake, Pure Luck, was released in 1991.


La Chèvre provides examples of:

  • Born Unlucky: Subverted. At first, it seems that both Marie Bens and François Perrin are born unlucky, because they constantly find themselves in very uncomfortable situations. Finally, it turns out that they are always lucky enough to get out of it safe and sound, so they are Unluckily Lucky.
  • Buddy Picture: Campana and François Perrin, two very different guys, have to work together to find back Marie Bens.
  • Butt-Monkey: François Perrin. He sits on a broken chair and collapses. He bangs into a sliding door. His suitcase is crushed at the airport. A lot of salt falls into his eggs. His nose starts bleeding. And this is just the beginning...
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the beginning, Marie Bens bangs into a sliding door at the airport. Later, an accident happens to Perrin at the same airport and a nurse tells him about what happened to Marie Bens. So Perrin and Campana have a lead to follow.
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  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Marie Bens is attractive and very clumsy.
  • Damsel in Distress: Marie Bens is kidnapped in the beginning. Campana and Perrin have to find her and free her.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Campana does not notice that Arbal is at the gambling club the first time he goes there.
  • The Jinx: Zig zagged. Both Marie Bens and François Perrin constantly find themselves in very uncomfortable situations, but they are always lucky enough to get out of it safe and sound, whereas those around them suffer from more serious consequences.
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: The police officer at the airport tells Campana that Marie Bens was with Arbal. → Campana meets the police officer who has tried to arrest Arbal for five years. The policeman tells him that he lived with a prostitute. → Campana and Perrin goes to the brothel. A prostitute and her pimp, Fernando, rob Perrin. → Campana goes to Fernando's gambling club, where he finds Arbal. → Arbal tells them that he gave Marie Bens to Fernando. → Fernando tells the police that Marie's airplane crashed in the tropical forest.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: There is a gorilla in the Mexican tropical forest.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: Marie Bens brings bad luck to her kidnappers. Campana pities Arbal when the kidnapper tells him that this girl only brought trouble for him.
  • Plot Allergy: Perrin is allergic to wasp stings. He is stung by a wasp on the plane and starts swelling.
  • Police Brutality: Mexican policemen beat Campana when he is under arrest with Perrin, because they are accused of killing Arbal.
  • Private Detective: Campana is a private investigator. Alexandre Bens hires him to investigate the kidnapping of his daughter.
  • Quicksand Sucks: After the murder of Arbal, Perrin quickly sinks into quicksand.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Campana, a badass detective, has to work with François Perrin, a clumsy accountant, to find Marie Bens.
  • South of the Border: The story takes place in Mexico and it involves a kidnapping.
  • Unluckily Lucky: Both Marie Bens and François Perrin constantly find themselves in very uncomfortable situations, but they are always lucky enough to get out of it safe and sound.
  • Unscrewed Salt Shaker: At the airport, Campana unscrews the salt shaker when Perrin is eating eggs. Perrin uses the salt shaker, a lot of salt falls on his eggs, but he does not seem to notice it and keeps on eating. A bit later, he says that the eggs are too salty.