Knock on the Wood
La chèvre, French comedy, colour, 1981, by Francis Veber, Language: French, Subtitles: English, Hungarian, 95’
Directed by Francis Veber
Screenplay by Francis Veber
Director of photography: Álex Phillips Jr.
Music by Vladimir Cosma
Cast: Pierre Richard, Gérard Depardieu, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Corynne Charbit, Maritza Olivares, André Valardy
Production: Conacite Uno, Fideline Films, Gaumont International
Francis Veber is a major ‘background’ figure in European cinema: few have heard of him, yetmany have seen and enjoyed his prolific output. It is sufficient to consider La Cage aux Follesor Hold-Up or My Father, the Hero, on which he was the screenwriter, or the series built onthe wacky pairing of Gerard Depardieu and Pierre Richard, the first part of which is Knock onWood. The hapless daughter of the director of a major corporation disappears, as if proof ofall Murphy’s Laws rolled into one, and who else to send to Mexico to track her down than asimilarly hopeless individual. However, the unluckiest of unluckies is accompanied by ahardboiled detective who will stop at nothing to find the girl. No door remains closed to him. And if it is closed, and he has broken it in, then it’s all the easier to shove it open on theirreturn. The slow-moving, tight-lipped detective and his ill-starred companion formed a duothat proved so popular they appeared in further French films. This early Veber work also laidthe foundations for the so-called buddy film that proved enormously popular overseas.