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|Coup de Torchon|
|Directed by||Bertrand Tavernier|
by Jim Thompson
|Music by||Philippe Sarde|
|Edited by||Armand Psenny|
Parafrance Films (France)|
Biograph Int'l (US)
|Box office||$16.5 million|
Coup de Torchon is a 1981 French film adaptation of Jim Thompson's 1964 novel Pop. 1280, directed by Bertrand Tavernier. The film changes the novel's setting from a West Texas oil boom town to a small town in French West Africa. The film had 2,199,309 admissions in France and was the 16th most attended film of the year.
In a little town in French West Africa in 1938, Lucien Cordier is the only policeman. Unable or unwilling to impose his authority, he is treated with scorn by everybody. His sexy wife Huguette has brought a lover, Nono, to live openly with them, claiming he is her brother. Cordier fancies the mischievous young bride Rose, but lets her brutal husband beat her in the street unchallenged. The head of the timber company, Vanderbrouck, daily insults him for all to see. And the bane of his life is a pair of slimy pimps, who flout the law and enjoy humiliating him.
It is the pimps that take him to the brink, so he gets on a train to consult his superior Chavasson, who tells him to act forcefully. On the train home is the attractive new teacher in town, Anne, to whom he warms immediately. Once back, he catches the two pimps alone and, after shooting both dead, throws the corpses in the river. When Chavasson learns of this, he rushes down to question Cordier, who says it was in effect Chavasson who killed them. Having outwitted his boss and removed his prime tormentors, Cordier starts on the others who have made his life a misery. Vanderbrouck is dropped in a privy and Rose's husband, like the pimps, is shot dead and thrown in the river. When his servant retrieves his master's body and brings it back to the house, Cordier has to kill him as well.
Catching Nono peeping at Anne in the shower, he beats him up in the street. Then he steals the money which his wife had been saving up in order to leave him and goes off to see the newly widowed Rose. Anne and Nono, reckoning that he is going to abscond with Rose and the money, storm round to Rose's and in self-defence Rose shoots both dead. Cordier gives her the money and tells her to get away fast. All he has left in life is Anne, to whom he confesses his general malaise and specific crimes. She is ready to accept him but he says he is now incapable of love. In the closing shot, he is alone under a tree caressing a revolver.