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Film / Les Grands Ducs

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Les Grands Ducs (The Big Dukes) is a 1996 French comedy film directed by Patrice Leconte and starring Philippe Noiret, Jean Rochefort, Jean-Pierre Marielle and Michel Blanc.

Two old actors, Victor Vialat (Noiret) and Eddie Carpentier (Rochefort) are desesperately looking for roles. When they hear that a colleague is going to be hired for a play named Scoubidou, they offer the producer (Blanc) to hire them for a very low price. The producer needs a third actor, so Vialat and Carpentier offer Georges Cox (Marielle) to play with them.


Les Grands Ducs provides examples of:

  • All Part of the Show: The audience thinks that the various incidents triggered by Shapiron are part of the show, even when he tries to shoot down the lead actress with a gun.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Three very good actors (Philippe Noiret, Jean Rochefort and Jean-Pierre Marielle) play three very bad actors, Vialat, Carpentier and Cox. Vialat has stage fright and forgets his lines. Carpentier modify his role to seduce the lead actress. Cox delivers his lines without expression.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Subverted with Carpentier. He tries to seduce all the girls he meets and he always fails, until he finally scores with Carla Milo, the lead actress of the play.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Georges Cox. In his Establishing Character Moment, he wears only underwear and a plastic rain coat and he is insulting his neighbour and demolishing a wall in his flat.
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  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Cox puts a trenchcoat on when he tricks the three stand-ins into thinking that they must go on the other side of France.
  • Determinator: Carla Milo is determined to keep on playing, even when the producer tries to murder her to stop her.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Carpentier is showed playing small parts in different theatre plays on the same night, then he is dumped by his much younger girlfriend. Vialat begs his daughter for money, leaves the house and goes to an audition, full of enthusiasm. Cox wears only underwear and a plastic rain coat and he is insulting his neighbour and demolishing a wall in his flat.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Shapiron says that his father, a famous theatre producer, forced him to work in the theatre industry, even if he hates theatre.
  • Gilligan Cut: Cox categorically refuses to go on tour with Carpentier and Vialat. Cut to him sitting in the tour coach, between Carpentier and Vialat.
  • Incredibly Conspicuous Drag: Walter, the role played by Cox in Scoubidou. Cox refuses to shave his beard to play the role.
  • Insurance Fraud: Shapiron tries to stop the tour to get money from an insurance company. First he offers to bribe the lead actress, Carla Milo. Since she rejects his offer, he tries to hurt, then to kill her.
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: When Cox wants to leave the tour, Carpentier tells him that he has no guts. This prompts him to stay.
  • Orphaned Punchline: In the end of the theatre play, a character tells the others that a train to Lunéville was diverted to Guingamp and the audience bursts into laughter, so it must be the punchline of some joke.
  • Overt Rendezvous: Shapiron makes an appointment with Carla Milo in a church to offer her a bribe.
  • The Prima Donna: Carla Milo is the lead actress of the play and she has many demands.
  • Set Behind the Scenes: The film is about a theatre company on tour in France.
  • Shoutout: Vialat repeats lines from famous theatre plays like Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo, Bérénice by Jean Racine.
  • The Show Must Go On: The theatre play is interrupted by Shapiron's attempts to hurt and kill Carla Milo. After such an incident, Cox tells the audience that the show must go on.
  • Show Within a Show: Scoubidou, the theatre play played by the protagonists.
  • Starving Artist: Carpentier is an actor who has to play small parts in several theatre plays on the same night to make enough money. Vialat has to beg his daughter for money.
  • Stylistic Suck: The quality of the play and the actors is low. Shapiron acknowledge that the play sucks, but he says that this is necessary to achieve commercial success.
  • Two-Timer Date: On the same night, Cox plays small parts in several theatre plays, with different costumes, in different parts of the city.
  • Workplace-Acquired Abilities: Cox uses his (bad) acting skills to trick the three stand-ins into thinking that they must go on the other side of France.