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Film / The Umbrella Coup

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The Umbrella Coup (French: Le Coup du parapluie) is a 1980 French comedy film directed by Gérard Oury, starring Pierre Richard, Gordon Mitchell and Gert Fröbe.

Grégoire Lecomte (Richard), the unlucky actor anxious to find a "real job", goes to take a screen test for a role of a killer, but then he takes a wrong turn and meets a mafia don who he takes for a producer, and they mistake him for a hitman with whom they had an appointment. Deluded Grégoire signs contract with them. He is supposed to kill gun dealer Otto Krampe at his birthday party in Saint-Tropez by piercing him with a cap of the umbrella with a built-in syringe with potassium cyanide (known as a "Bulgarian umbrella"). Grégoire is not aware that it has to be a real murder.


This film provides examples of:

  • All Part of the Show:
    • Even when the real killer assassinates the target and gets shot by police, Grégoire thinks it's all a game.
    • When Grégoire come flying out of a window and down a palm tree, the guests thinks he is a hired clown and laugh.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Grégoire manages to take out two of Krampe's goons while not even realizing they were after him.
  • Asshole Victim: Moskovitz and Krampe who both get killed.
  • Blackface: The members of the jazz band at the party have their faces painted black as part of the 1920s theme.
  • Carnival of Killers: Several hitmen line up to get a shot at Grégoire but he manages to foil all their attempts on his life.
  • The Chew Toy: Moskovitz:
    • He receives a bucket of paint on his head, ruining his costume.
    • He then gets his car accidentally vandalised by Gregoire who bumped with his one. Then, receives his molten vinyl on the face, again on accident, it was directed at Gregoire.
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    • When he tries to take his gun to get revenge on Gregoire, the latter bumps on his car while leaving, damaging it once again and slamming the back door on his head.
    • Gregoire steps on his feet when he hides being the curtain.
  • Coincidental Dodge: When The Fairy tries to strangle Grégoire on the plane, turbulence causes the latter to tumble which foils the assault.
  • The Comically Serious: Moskovitz and Radj Khan. Their stoic seriousness is often perturbed by the goofiness of Gregoire and Josyane.
  • Conspicuously Public Assassination: Nobody seems to take notice when Moskovitz kills Otto Krampe by throwing the umbrella at him.
  • Covered in Gunge: Moskovitz gets a bucket of paint emptied on his head.
  • Curtain Camouflage: Moskovitz hides behind the curtains at Grégoire's hotel suite but the latter notices the shoes and calls the bluff.
  • Flynning: Grégoire and Moskovitz have a sword fighting scene with umbrellas.
  • The Fool: Grégoire has no clue what he is in for or up against but he succeeds anyway.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Josyane mistakes Moskovitz for Grégoire and whips him one with a huge pan when he enters the apartment.
  • Gambit Pileup: Krampe's goons try to kill Grégoire, Moskovitz tries to kill Grégoire as well as Krampe, and the police try to protect Grégoire from harm.
  • He's Dead, Jim: Krampe's death is testified by some bystander shortly listening to his (missing) heartbeat.
  • Hidden Weapons: Radj has a butterfly knife hidden up his sleeve.
  • Hollywood Silencer: The Professional Killer uses one in the opening scene to kill his target in the photo booth.
  • In Love with the Mark: Sylvette is an undercover cop who takes a liking to her mark Grégoire. They end up getting married.
  • Ironic Juxtaposition: The scene when Grégoire tells Sylvette of his allegedly blind wife and how helpless she is without him, intercut with scenes of Josyane wreaking havoc on his belongings.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Grégoire only realizes that he has been involved in a mafia Mob War at the end of the movie, when his partner spells it out for him. He then decides that the story would make for a great movie. Cut to the epilogue — he is now a celebrated film director at Cannes with Money to Burn.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: The band stops playing this way when Krampe's death is confirmed.
  • Mistaken for Badass: Grégoire is invited to play an assassin, but enters a wrong office and gets confused for a Professional Killer by The Mafia. And Hilarity Ensues.
  • Parasol of Pain: Grégoire receives an umbrella with a retractable poisoned needle in the tip to assassinate a target with. He doesn't find out what's going on until the very end of the film.
    • Unlike the real-life murder case the movie is based on, the movie uses a fast-acting poison instead of ricin.
  • Percussive Maintenance: The meter maid early on punches Grégoire's meter to reset it.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: It's a screwball comedy so the gore part is heavily downplayed. We see two headshots, the target at the photo booth and when Sylvette shoots Moskovitz, both merely cause a red spot to appear on the victim's forehead.
  • Professional Killer: Gordon Mitchell's character is one. Grégoire is mistaken for one.
  • Really Gets Around: Grégoire is shown to have several Friends with Benefits.
  • Rule of Pool: Several characters end up in the pool fully clothed.
  • Running Gag: Grégoire touching other cars with his bumpers when backing into and out of parking space.
  • Silent Antagonist: Moskovitz the gunman has only one line. Justified, both because it fits his character and the fact that Gordon Mitchell wasn't a good French speaker.
  • Shoe Phone: The titular umbrella and The Fairy's wristwatch holding a killer string.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Grégoire pretends to everyone that his wife Juliette, a florist, is blind. When his mistress Josyane evicts him from their home, she yells at him: "Florist and blind!? Do you think I never go to the movies?" and he answers "Charlie Chaplin doesn't have a monopoly on blind people".
    • At the end, Vittorio Caprioli says "He made me an offer I couldn't refuse."
    • The mirroring scenes on TV during the umbrella fight are from Le Capitan.
  • That Poor Plant: There is a cactus at the florist shop which dies instantly when Grégoire stabs the poisonous umbrella in its flowerpot.
  • William Telling: Radj proves his aiming skills by hitting a pineapple placed on Grégoire's head.
  • Woman Scorned: Josyane destroys Grégoire's possessions after learning about his latest fling with Sylvette.