Coup de TorchonWe began a Bertrand Tavernier mini-season this evening by watching his 1981 Coup de Torchon. Set in a small town in French West Africa, Philippe Noiret stars as a weak, cuckolded and frequently humiliated local police constable who slowly goes rogue, killing those who have offended or humiliated him. Well acted and directed and full of comic scenes, the film has the same dry wit and chilling effect on the viewer as the much later Belgian cult hit, C’est arrivé près de chez vous. It all seems so believable and, once the killing starts, inexorable. The film brought to our attention American novelist Jim Thompson. Tavernier adapted Thompson’s 1964 novel, Pop. 1280, transposing the setting from a West Texas oil boom town. By doing this Tavernier was also able to make wry observations in passing about French colonial decline. It is a gem of a film.