Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tchao Pantin (So Long, Stooge) (1983) French Neo Noir Masterpiece

A Film Noir that's won the equivalent of five Oscars.

Tchao Pantin, was nominated for twelve, and won five Cesars, France's Academy Award. It's still not available on DVD or Blu Ray in Region 1. A shame because this is an excellent film noir. It's got all the right ingredients for this particular aficionado. The story revolves around small time losers, in a gritty working class neighborhood of Paris. Directed masterfully by Claude Berri, shot with a knowing eye by Bruno Nuytten and starring a popular French comedian who was famous for his irreverent sense of humour. The Music was by Charlélie Couture.

The film stars Coluche (The Wing or The Thigh? (1976)) as Lambert, Richard Anconina (The Little Gangster (1990)) as Bensoussan, Agnès Soral (Window to Paris (1993)) as Lola, Philippe Léotard (French Connection II (1975)) as Bauer and Mahmoud Zemmouri (Munich (2005)) as Rachid.

A seedy, 18th Arrondissement ghetto. Paris. Downpour. Night. Lambert (Coluche). All-Night Gas Jockey. Grease Monkey. Alcoholic. Middle age has been. Runs a Total Service Station. Corner of Place de la Chapelle & Pajol. Bensoussan (Anconina). Reckless. Semitic cycle thief. Drug dealer. Punk ass kid.

Lambert (Coluche)

Bensoussan (Anconina)
Bensoussan, drenched, is being tailed by the cops, his stolen moped out of gas. He pushes it under the Total Station's canopy, and heads inside. Lambert is watching all this from inside the station. When the two meet a sort of friendship bond is sparked and it develops over the weeks.

They are both alone in the world with no friends and no families left. Lambert see's in Bensoussan his own son (who <spoilers> we find out later died of a drug overdose).


Bensoussan during his friendship with Lambert, meets a punk rocker chick Lola (Agnès Soral), who is at first attracted to his stolen cycle, then to him. Their brief relationship ends when, after Bensoussan and Lola are stopped by a motorcycle cop, he belts the cop and takes off with a very frightened Lola.

Lola (Soral)

When Bensoussan is killed in front of Lambert at the Total Station, by his double crossing drug dealing connections, the film boards the express Metro to Noirsville.


Rachid (Zemmouri) lt.

Bauer (Léotard)

Director Berri was noted previously as the director, writer and occasionally a star, in a handful of French Comedies. This work was the beginning of a four year detour into more serious fare. In this film beautifully Noir soaked shots are held reverently.  Coluche was a popular French standup comedian famous for his irreverent attitude towards politics and the establishment in general, gives along with Anconina excellent performances.

Screencaps are from a Youtube streamer without English subtitles, but if you read the story synopsis you can let yourself be transported into the story through the cinematography of Bruno Nuytten and be thoroughly entertained even without knowing any French. 9/10


  1. Replies
    1. If you stream it you can also turn on the CC, if you know some French it will help, but the story is basic enough to understand and the visuals excellent.