“I am precisely what I am because I have eaten my way to the top.”
A renowned pastry chef (Jacqueline Bisset) invited to France by a portly food connoisseur (Robert Morley) fears for her life when the greatest chefs in Europe are mysteriously murdered, one by one; meanwhile, her insistent ex-husband (George Segal) pursues her aggressively, and is determined to keep her safe from harm.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Black Comedy
- George Segal Films
- Jacqueline Bisset Films
- Murder Mystery
- Robert Morley Films
- Serial Killers
Canadian-born Ted Kotcheff directed this innocuously enjoyable culinary mystery (based on Nan and Ivan Lyons’ novel Someone is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe), which possesses plenty of mouthwatering sequences in which breathtaking dishes are meticulously prepared (my favorite is watching Bisset carefully sculpt her impressive Bombe Richelieu). There’s a generous serving of dark gore as well, given that each chef is killed according to his specialty (i.e., a lobster chef is drowned, and a chef renowned for his duck pate is ground up). While we’re fairly certain we know who the prime suspect is, and why, we’re nonetheless kept in suspense until the very end; meanwhile, the romantic subplot between Bisset and Segal gets somewhat tiresome, but at least helps propel the story forward. Robert Morley is delightful as a morbidly obese connoisseur whose love of fine food is putting his life at risk (he deservedly earned a Golden Globe nomination as best supporting actor for his performance here), and several noteworthy French actors (Philippe Noiret, Jean Rochefort) make welcome minor appearances.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Robert Morley as Max
- Several enjoyable sequences of culinary wizardry
No, but it’s certainly recommended.
One thought on “Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978)”
Not a must, and in agreement here.
I had seen this on its release (before now) and I recalled it as being…pleasant enough, for a mystery. And it is.
The opening sections of the film are perhaps the strongest: bouncy, witty, inviting (with Morley at his best here). And it’s certainly a visual treat as the film moves from England to Italy to France. But, even as it remains somewhat engaging (the cast certainly helps), things start to run a little thin. Ultimately, it’s not a waste of time but not something to really seek out. …It’s also rather difficult to find.
Fave sequence: the group of French chefs quarreling over who is the best chef.
Best bit: at a funeral, a waiter signals someone seating people in church pews as if he is seating people in a restaurant.