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Film / The Wing or the Thigh

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The Wing or the Thigh (L'aile ou la Cuisse) is a 1976 French comedy film directed by Claude Zidi, starring Louis de Funès and Coluche.

Charles Duchemin, the editor of the Guide Duchemin (a Fictional Counterpart of the Guide Michelin, a rating system for French restaurants) decides to retire and pass the business to his son Gérard. Unfortunately, Gérard only wants to be a circus performer, to his father's horror. When the Tricatel company starts making plans to introduce fast food to France, the Duchemins fight back.


The Wing or the Thigh provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: After finding out his son's secret clown career, Charles Duchemin tries to get furious, but because of his recent food poisoning, he cannot find the strength and complains that he "can't get mad any more". The movie was filmed following De Funès's first heart attack, after which he had to tone down his infamous Nervous Wreck persona.
  • Afraid of Needles: Charles Duchemin cannot stand the injections.
  • Americans Are Cowboys: When Charles Duchemin pretends to be an American, he wears cow-boy style clothes.
  • As Himself: Philippe Bouvard, a TV host.
  • Badass Driver: Henri, Charles Duchemin's driver.
  • Balloon Belly: Charles Duchemin gets one after he is forced to binge eat by a vengeful restaurant owner.
  • Big Bad: Jacques Tricatel.
  • Big Eater: Gérard Duchemin orders many food in a restaurant, which surprises the waiter.
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  • Brick Joke: When he is inside the Tricatel factory, Charles Duchemin loses his watch in a production line of pastries. He finds it back inside the pastry he is given during his reception at the Académie française.
  • Caught on Tape: Jacques Tricatel is being filmed when he orders to murder Charles and Gérard Duchemin.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: Jacques Tricatel plans to make Charles and Gérard Duchemin get on a conveyor belt that will transform them into canned meat.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Jacques Tricatel uses any means to succeed, even ordering the murder of Charles and Gérard Duchemin.
  • Disguised in Drag: Charles Duchemin visits a restaurant disguised as an old woman, so that the owner cannot recognize him and give him a special treatment. It works, the owner immediately recognizes the Duchemin critic and showers him with preferential treatment, unfortunately neglecting the other customers (such as an old woman...).
  • The Dragon: Lambert, Tricatel's employee.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Jacques Tricatel was being filmed when he ordered to murder Charles and Gérard Duchemin. This record is later shown on TV.
  • Exploring the Evil Lair: Charles and Gérard Duchemin explore the Tricatel factory.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Charles Duchemin wants his son to follow in his footsteps, so Gérard does not dare to tell him that he is a clown in a circus.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Duchemin restaurant guide for the Michelin Guide.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Charles Duchemin wants his son Gérard to become the head of his company after he retires. Gérard is not interested. He would like to be a clown.
  • French Cuisine Is Haughty: Tricatel justifies his mass-produced food as being able to feed many more people than old-fashioned "cuisine".
  • Humiliation Conga: Jacques Tricatel is humiliated during the TV show: he must confess the food he sells is impossible to eat. Then, there is the Engineered Public Confession.
  • I Have No Son: When Charles Duchemin discovers that his son is a clown in a circus, he disowns him.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: Lambert sends a fake plumber to infiltrate Duchemin's office.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Charles and Gérard Duchemin are very different. Not only physically: the father dedicated his whole life to his very serious restaurant guide, whereas his son is only interested in circus. Zig-zagged: Gérard can successfully stand in for his father in the TV show, where he is presented as his father's successor. In spite of what is told during the show, he still chooses for his clown career... until he hears that the second Marguerite keeps on working for the restaurant guide.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Inside the Tricatel factory, with giant rabbits, featherless chickens that lay square eggs, a machine that makes meat out of crude oil...
  • Media Scrum: When Charles Duchemin is in a hospital, many journalists want to interview him. He has to flee with the help of his son.
  • Mob-Boss Suit Fitting: Played for Laughs. Charles Duchemin is dictating a review of an establishment while a tailor is taking his measurements for a new suit. Of course, as he walks along dictating, he drags the poor tailor all around the office.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jacques Tricatel is a caricature of Jacques Borel, a real-life company owner.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: Gérard Duchemin is one, unbeknownst to his father.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. The two secretaries of Charles Duchemin are named Marguerite, which causes some confusion.
  • Packed Hero: Gérard Duchemin is trapped on a conveyor belt in the Tricatel factory. After going through an oven, he ends up inside a giant pastry.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: Charles Duchemin decides to leave the hospital against the doctors' advice.
  • Serious Business: A French movie defending traditional cuisine against fast food? Gee, didn't see that coming.
  • Sexy Scandinavian: The second Marguerite is probably Swedish, given the fact that she can speak the language (and she is played by a Swedish actress).
  • Sexy Secretary: The second Marguerite, Charles Duchemin's secretary and Gérard Duchemin's love interest.
  • Shrine to Self: In the Tricatel factory, there is a very large portrait of Jacques Tricatel.
  • Sommelier Speak: Charles Duchemin delivers one when he has to recognise a type of wine just by looking at it (as he's lost his sense of taste).
  • The Show Must Go On: Gérard Duchemin's circus show after his father broke up with him in front of the audience.
  • Trick Dialogue: Gérard Duchemin seems to tell his father he wants to leave him to work in his circus full time, then we realize he is just practicing before a mirror.
  • Undercover as Lovers: Charles Duchemin pretends that Gérard and Marguerite are newly weds to visit a hotel incognito.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Jacques Tricatel tries to be popular and to charm the audience of the TV show.