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Film / The Sucker

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One of the best french comedies

"He impresses me! He impresses me!"
Mr. Saroyan (giving his opinion on the titular sucker)

The Sucker (Le Corniaud in French) is a 1965 French-Italian-Spanish comedy film directed by Gérard Oury and starring Louis de Funès and Bourvil.

Antoine Maréchal (Bourvil) is leaving Paris to go on holiday in Italy when he has a car accident with Mr. Saroyan (De Funès). He thinks his vacation is ruined, but the next day Saroyan offers him to drive a Cadillac from Naples to Bordeaux. Actually, Saroyan is a mob boss and he has hidden heroin, stolen gold and precious stones, including the biggest diamond in the world, the Youkounkoun, in the Cadillac.

The film was a smashing success in France upon release, and was topped at that by La Grande Vadrouille the following year, which brought Oury, De Funès and Bourvil together once again.


The Sucker provides examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: Maréchal's Citroën 2CV, which breaks into pieces after Saroyan's Rolls-Royce bumps into it.
  • Bat Deduction: Maréchal suddenly guesses where Saroyan hid the "Youkounkoun" diamond in the Cadillac he had to drive:
    Maréchal: For sure! There are 2 Ks in "Youkounkoun", like in "klaxon"! (which is the car horn)
  • Book-Ends: The movies starts with a car accident (Saroyan's Silver Cloud crashes into Maréchal's 2CV). It ends with another car accident (the Cadillac avoids a police car but crashes into a shop window).
  • Butt-Monkey: Maréchal. His car is broken into pieces. When he tries to pick Gina up, he receives an ill-treatment from the barber, her fiancé. When he dines out with Gina, the waiters constantly make him fall from his chair. He falls from a cliff into the sea. Finally, he is arrested.
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  • Catchphrase: Saroyan often says about Maréchal "Il m'épate, il m'épate, il m'épate!" (i.e. "He impresses me!")
  • Cool Car: The Cadillac, of course (a Cadillac Series 62 Deville Cabriolet 1964). Other cars are worth of notice: Saroyan's Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and green Jaguar Mark 2, the stolen Rolls-Royce Phantom I, and the red Austin Healey 3000 driven by the Italian mobsters.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Saroyan is the CEO of a company, but this is just a cover for his underground activities.
  • Dramatic Irony: Played for Laughs. The viewer knows Saroyan's plan, whereas the protagonist, Maréchal, does not know it. So the viewer realizes that Maréchal loses the golden bumpers and the battery full of precious stones. The viewer also knows that the Napolitan mechanic has just stolen the two golden bumpers, when Maréchal praises his honesty.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Some of the most famous monuments of Italy (the Trinità dei Monti, the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa...) and the medieval city of Carcassonne feature prominently in the film. Justified, because Antoine Maréchal is supposed to be on vacation and to visit places of interest.
  • Europeans Are Kinky: For the French, Northern Europeans are kinky. Ursula, the German tourist, rarely wears more than a swimsuit. Plus she is a naturist and she enjoys skinny dipping.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: The Cadillac contains precious stones in the battery and the biggest diamond in the world, the Youkounkoun in the car horn.
  • Fiery Coverup: Saroyan draws a plan to show his men where he hid the contraband, then burns said plan. But unbeknownst to him, a mole had slipped self-duplicating paper under the tablecloth.
  • Foreshadowing: The horn of the Cadillac has a problem: it starts honking several times and Maréchal cannot stop it. This is probably because a huge diamond is hidden inside it.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Saroyan, who manipulates Maréchal.
  • The Mark: Maréchal is the mark of Saroyan's plan: Saroyan tries to make him drive a car full of heroin, of stolen gold and precious stones from Naples to Bordeaux, without him knowing.
  • Mickey Mousing: The car-fixing scene is set to Rossini's Tarentella.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Ursula (Beba Loncar), the German tourist, who rarely wears more than a swimsuit.
  • Muscle Angst: In the campsite showers, Saroyan meets a very muscular guy who flexes his muscles. When he is left alone, Saroyan looks at his own body and tries to imitate him.
  • One Born Every Minute: Maréchal, an honest and naive guy, meets Saroyan, a mob boss. Saroyan tries to make him drive a car full of heroin, of stolen gold and precious stones from Naples to Bordeaux, without him knowing. Maréchal ends up realizing what happens and sets up a reverse-con to turn the tables on Saroyan.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Both Gina and her fiancé provoke each other: Gina dates Maréchal. When her fiancé sees her with him in a restaurant, he kisses a girl, then dances languorously with another one. Gina then grabs Maréchal's hand and caresses it.
  • Orphaned Setup: In the end, Saroyan tells Maréchal that he will get the reward for finding back the Youkounkoun, then he whispers something in Maréchal's ear. The viewer cannot hear it, but it must be very funny because Saroyan and Maréchal burst into laughter.
  • Pec Flex: In the campsite showers, Saroyan meets a very muscular guy who flexes his muscles in a attempt to charm him.
  • Rambunctious Italian: Gina and her fiancé are introduced when they have a very loud argument. They are both hot-blooded: they both play Operation: Jealousy against each other.
  • Road Trip Plot: Maréchal drives a Cadillac from Naples to Bordeaux over the course of the film.
  • Running Gag: The horn of the Cadillac starts honking and Maréchal cannot stop it.
  • Shout-Out: One of Saroyan's associates advises Maréchal to read Promenades dans Rome by Stendhal.
  • Skinny Dipping: Ursula wants to go skinny dipping and she suggests Maréchal to go with her. He does not want to, so she goes swimming alone, but soon Mickey joins her.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Maréchal is a lower-class man, while Saroyan and his associates are rich and cultured. This contrast shows up in particular in the beginning of the film: Maréchal drives a 2CV, while Saroyan drives a Rolls-Royce. In Saroyan's office, Maréchal is astounded by some gadgets. When he eats with Saroyan and his associates, Maréchal turns out to be less cultured than them.
  • Spanner in the Works: Maréchal unintentionally ruins a large part of Saroyan's plan: he loses the golden bumpers and he throws the battery full of precious stones in the sea without even realizing that there were gold and precious stones.
  • Speech Impediment: Mickey, the Italian mobster, has a stammer.
  • Stick 'em Up: During a gun fight against the Italian mobsters, Saroyan walks backward into the pointed finger of a stone statue, which he mistakes for a gun. He drops his own gun and raise hands, before swirling around and trying a karate-chop on the statue's arm — to painful results.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Maréchal does not realize that he is manipulated by Saroyan for most of the film, but after crossing the French border, he understands everything and he manages to manipulate Mickey and Saroyan. He also hands over Saroyan's henchmen to the police. Finally, he even guesses where the Youkounkoun is hidden.
  • Train Escape: Type 1. On the road to Carcassonne, Maréchal manages to cross a railway track just ahead of a train. Saroyan, who was following him, gets caught by the train.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Mickey throws sugar cubes in the fuel tank of Saroyan's car twice to prevent him from following the Cadillac.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The plot is based on the case of Jacques Angelvin, French TV host, who was arrested in the US in 1962. He had carried drugs hidden in his car.


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