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Film / The Wing or the Thigh

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Despite his degrading health, Louis de Funès still managed to bring us a delicacy

"I spot all the Duchemin's inspector at 100 meters..."
Charles Duchemin (snarking about one restaurant manager after removing his Paper-Thin Disguise)

The Wing or the Thigh (L'Aile ou la Cuisse) is a 1976 French comedy film directed by Claude Zidi, starring Louis de Fun├Ęs and Coluche. Vladimir Cosma composed the soundtrack.

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:

  • 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.
  • Arch-Enemy: Tricatel is introduced this way when a collaborateur of Duchemin is reporting on the restaurant of the countryside:
    Labrey: It seems that a majority of big restaurants are being bought by a very large corporation... that used to take care of a different kind of restauration.
    Duchemin: [alarmed] Which society?
    Labrey: I believe that is the Tricatel Corporation...
    Duchemin: But I thought his market was the "restauroutes" and the cafeterias?
    Labrey: I guess they want to expand...
    Duchemin: We need to be sure, the guide is published in one month and I can hardly see myself giving stars without knowing it to this merchant of cans!
  • As Himself: Philippe Bouvard, a TV host.
  • Asian Cleaver Fever: Charles Duchemin visits a Japanese restaurant where the chef carves food very quickly with different knives in front of the customers.
  • 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.
  • Benevolent Boss: Surprisingly, De Funès isn't a Mean Boss in this movie. Although he does briefly rants after someone puts the wrong music on one of his cooking shows, he treats his employees well and respect them.
  • Big Bad: Jacques Tricatel.
  • Big Eater: Gérard Duchemin orders many food in a restaurant, which surprises the waiter.
  • 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.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Charles Duchemin tries to buy information from the fake plumber that was captured trying to steal next year's Duchemin Guide with... 200 francs. It's so ridiculously stingy, the spy bursts out laughing (he's being paid millions for the yet-unpublished guide).
  • 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 another Duchemin critic and showers him with preferential treatment, unfortunately neglecting the other customers (such as an old woman...).
  • 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.
  • Force Feeding: Charles Duchemin is forced at gunpoint to eat all of the awful factory-made dishes a restaurant has to offer. This lands him in the hospital and causes him to lose all sense of taste, mere days before a contest.
  • French Cuisine Is Haughty: Tricatel justifies his mass-produced food as being able to feed many more people than old-fashioned "cuisine".
  • Glad You Thought of It: Philippe Bouvard, the TV host, asks Charles Duchemin how to convince Jacques Tricatel to confront him in the TV show. Duchemin answers that he should make Tricatel think that it is his idea. Bouvard manages to do so and so Tricatel wants to confront Duchemin. Bouvard asks him how to convince Duchemin to accept and Tricatel gives him the same answer: try to make Duchemin think that it is his idea.
  • Guile Hero: Knowing that Tricatel is quite popular among the French people, Duchemin relies more on brains to face him off: training his employees so they can critic his disgusting food, tricking him into a talk show and last but not least sneaking into Tricatel's factory so they can steal the industrial food and bring it to the talk-show. And of course, not to mention the "interesting" way of investigating restaurants.
  • 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.
  • Mock Meal: Tricatel-brand industrial food turns out to be artificial: fish and chicken roast are made by molding some paste around skeletons, before spray-painting a nice roast color around them.
  • 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.
  • Old Beggar Test: A restaurant owner orders his staff to shower preferential treatment on someone he's identified as working for a food critic, completely ignoring an old woman's requests for water. While the man does work for the critic, his boss Charles Duchemin was Disguised in Drag as the old woman, and gives an appropriately scathing review.
  • 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.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Charles Duchemin goes undercover in flimsy disguises in order to review restaurants. Whether it's an Old Lady, a an American Tourist, an old man with his son and his fake wife or a chauffeur, nobody notice that is him.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: Charles Duchemin decides to leave the hospital against the doctors' advice.
  • Rousing Speech: When he manages to bring Tricatel and himself to a talk-show where they will debate on industrial food vs. traditional food, he trains all off his critics with a strict exercice routine and give them a speech for their morale:
    Charles Duchemin: Gentlemen, I will ask you for a supplementary effort for the following days. Effort which requires a perfect physical condition! You know my adversary... or least from reputation... sinister. Until now, we have ignored him, an error that could be fatal to us. The danger is getting too big, we have to face him quickly and straightforwardly and give him the spot he absolutely deserves. Fearsome trials are awaiting us! [later, when presenting Tricatel's food] Yes Gentlemen, it's edible... it's from Tricatel's... So, I want the maximum of informations, intelligence... I need quickly a complete and ferocious file on Tricatel and co. Gentlemen... [points the food] Bon appétit.
  • Sense Loss Sadness: After being forced to eat disgusting food, he suffers from agueusia (i.e the loss of the sense of taste). Even worse, he has planned to ridicule Tricatel on a talk show by showing the value and worth of old-fashioned cuisine.
    Charles Duchemin: Gérard! I lost my taste!
    Gérard Duchemin: Uh?
    Charles: I no longer have the notion of flavor... I'm feeling like I'm chewing cotton and drinking water... Remember when I could find all the ingredients of a dish and now NOTHING!
  • 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. She even wears bright red business suit with suspiciously low-cut jacket with no blouse visible underneath.
  • The Show Must Go On: Gérard Duchemin's circus show after his father broke up with him in front of the audience.
  • 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 recognize a type of wine just by looking at it (as he's lost his sense of taste). While his lines do sound pompous, he uses genuine methods to describe and determinate the origin of the wine in the glass.
  • Take Our Word for It: Charles and Gérard Duchemin search Tricatel factory, where they find among other things chickens that lay cubic eggs. But we only see their faces when they make the discovery.
  • 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 newlyweds to visit a hotel incognito.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Jacques Tricatel tries to be popular and to charm the audience of the TV show.
  • Visual Pun: After Charles Duchemin was kidnapped by the vengeful restaurant owner, Gérard comes back to the hotel with Marguerite, hoping he's not going to "fall upon his father" ("tomber dessus" is a French colloquialism meaning meeting someone unprompted). Right then, in the dark, he trips over his father lying on the floor and falls upon him.

Alternative Title(s): L Aile Ou La Cuisse