Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (1978): Blier’s Oscar-Winner of Best Foreign Language Oscar, Starring Depardieu

Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, 1956-present

1978: Year 23–French comedy

In the smash Gallic comedy hit directed by the commercial filmmaker Bertrand Blier, Get Out Your Handkerchief (which ran in New York for over six months), Gerard Depardieu plays a husband who cannot make his wife happy, or more specifically sexually fulfilled.

Grade: B+ (**** out of *****)

Get Out Your Handkerchiefs
Préparez vos mouchoirs.jpg

French film poster
Préparez vos mouchoirs

He first brings a mature, handsome lover, but to no avail—the wife remains dissatisfied with the latter’s performance. Finally, it takes a teenager, all but 13, to make her both content—and pregnant.

The film won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Award.

The film tells the story of a ménage à trois in which two men share a woman to cure her of an unexplained depression–until she eventually (and scandalously) begins an affair with an underage boy.

The film makes references to Mozart, combined with the music of the film’s composer Georges Delerue, who won the César Award (French Oscar) for Best Original Music.

Detailed Plot

When the tale begins, Raoul and his wife Solange are eating in a restaurant when Raoul expresses concern with her apparent depression; she eats little, and suffers from migraines and insomnia.

He finds another man in the room, Stéphane, to be her lover and hopefully enliven her. Stéphane is puzzled by Raoul’s plan, but he agrees.

The two men take turns sleeping with Solange, and both try to impregnate her without success, believing that lack of a child is the source of her depression. Stéphane also shares his love for the music of Mozart and Pocket Books with the two and their neighborhood grocer. The music inspires the men, but not Solange.

Raoul, Solange, and Stéphane work at a boys’ camp in the summer, where they meet math prodigy Christian Belœil, age 13, who is bullied by the other boys. Solange becomes protective of Christian and one night lets him sleep in her bed. Soon, they make up and have sex, despite the drastic age difference.

Afterwards, Solange becomes dependent on the boy, to the point where the trio kidnap him from boarding school.

Christian eventually impregnates her, and the film ends with Raoul and Stéphane walking away after serving six months in prison.

Cast
Gérard Depardieu as Raoul
Patrick Dewaere as Stéphane
Carole Laure as Solange
Michel Serrault as the neighbor
Eléonore Hirt as Madame Belœil
Jean Rougerie as Monsieur Belœil
Sylvie Joly as the passer-by
Riton Liebman as Christian Belœil
Liliane Rovère as Marthe the barmaid (“Bernadette”)
Michel Beaune as the doctor in the street
Gilberte Géniat as the usherette

Oscar Nominations: 1

Best Foreign Language Film

Oscar Awards: 1

Distinguished performances by foreign players in art house films that were not commercial have been consistently overlooked by the acting branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science (AMPAS).

The list is too long to recite here, but a recent example demonstrates the point.  One of Europe’s best and busiest actors, Gerard Depardieu didn’t receive the Academy’s attention, despite excellent appearances in many films, including the frustrated husband in Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, and the title role in Andrzej Wajda’s Danton.

Depardieu did receive a Best Actor nomination for the 1990 French version of Cyrano, playing the same role for which Jose Ferrer had won the Best Actor exactly forty years earlier.

Credits:

Directed, written by Bertrand Blier
Produced by Paul Claudon, Georges Dancigers, Alexandre Mnouchkine
Cinematography Jean Penzer
Edited by Claudine Merlin
Music by Georges Delerue
Release date: January 11, 1978

Running time: 105 minutes