The original French title of this movie — Poulet au vinaigre — means vinegar chicken, but poulet also means cop, so it’s a play on words. The detective film that results, the first several appearances of Inspecteur Jean Lavardin (Jean Poiret), takes the notions of the genre and gives it the spin that director Claude Chabrol is so famous for.
Three men in a small town — a lawyer named Lavoisier (Michel Bouquet), Dr. Morasseau (Jean Topart) and Filiol the butcher (Jean-Claude Bouillaud) — have been conspiring to take the house of Louis Cuno (Lucas Belvaux) and his invalid mother. They continually harass the twosome and take away any joy from their life, so after one particularly bad encounter, Louis puts sugar in the gas tank of the butcher, which leads to a fatal accident and brings Lavardin to town.
That’s just the start of the story, as Lavoisier’s mistress Anna (Caroline Cellier) and Morasseau’s wife Delphine (Josephine Chaplin), who make an odd couple, but both quickly vanish. And then a statue of a nue Delphone shows up in the doctor’s garden and a charred body in another car wreck. It seems like this town has more than its share of secrets.
Stéphane Audran, who plays Madame Cuno, also appears in the TV spin-off Les dossiers secrets de l’inspecteur Lavardin: L’escargot noir as a different character. She was married to Chabrol from 1964 to 1980 and obviously continued working with his professionally after. Their son Thomas appeared in many of his father’s movies and has become a director and screenwriter himself.
Arrow Video’s Lies And Deceit: Five Films By Claude Chabrol collected five high definitions (1080p) blu ray versions of Cop Au Vin and Inspector Lavardin to Madame Bovary, Betty and Torment. Each movie has an introduction by film scholar Joël Magny and select scene commentaries by Chabrol. Additionally, there’s an 80-page collector’s booklet of new writing by film critics Martyn Conterio, Kat Ellinger, Philip Kemp and Sam Wigley, trailers and image galleries for each movie and limited edition packaging with newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella.
Cop Au Vin has new commentary by critic Ben Sachs, a new interview with film historian Ian Christie, a segment with Christie and Chabrol onstage at the BFI in 1994 and a Swiss TV show that features Chabrol, Jean Poiret and Stephane Audran talking about the film.
You can order this set from MVD.