Topaze (1951) Movie Script

All characters and events
in this film are fictitious.
Any similarity to actual events
or persons, living or dead,
is purely coincidental.
"The lambs were safe
"in a park...
"in a park."
Lambs. Lambs.
Come on, boy, make an effort.
Were... w-e-r-e.
This means
there was not only one lamb,
but several lambs.
Good day, Mr. Topaze.
Good day, Miss Muche.
Is my father around?
The headmaster's not to be seen.
What time is it?
Ten to eight, miss.
- You're early for your class.
- I have work.
- Can you lend me your red ink?
- With pleasure, miss.
I just bought a bottle.
I'll open it for you.
You're so very kind.
- Are you correcting homework?
- Yes.
And I don't like doing it.
It's curious, I've always had
a fondness for correcting homework.
I sometimes surprise myself
correcting billboards in the metro,
or pamphlets that people
hiding around corners
unexpectedly thrust into your hands.
There you go.
Keep the bottle as long as you like.
Thank you, Mr. Topaze.
- At your service, miss.
- At my service?
A ready-made phrase,
but you say it nicely.
I try my best
and it's truly sincere.
Two weeks ago, you didn't say it,
but you were much nicer.
How do you mean, miss?
You brought me colored chalk
and perpetual calendars.
You came to my classroom
to help me correct homework.
But you no longer offer to help me.
Help you? Had I sought this favor,
would you have granted it?
I don't know.
I only know you haven't sought it.
Thank you anyhow.
I have a great deal of work.
Miss Muche, my dear colleague,
do me the honor, let me correct it.
I can't impose such drudgery.
You mustn't call drudgery
that which is a joy.
When I'm alone at night,
in my little room,
hunched over your dictations,
the problems you gave them,
those delicate and feminine
spelling pitfalls,
I feel as though you're close to me.
Mr. Topaze, behave yourself.
Forgive me. But this discussion
has gone so far that
you cannot refuse me this favor
without inflicting pain
and misery I do not deserve.
OK, I'll give in again.
Thank you!
- I need it by tomorrow.
- You'll have it.
I shake when I think that we're
doing something forbidden together.
You'll have it tomorrow.
Tomorrow morning, eight-thirty.
Goodbye. And not a word.
Not a word.
Back to our lambs.
Hello, headmaster.
Mr. Topaze, I'd like to have
a word with you.
Of course, sir.
Go outside and play.
- I'm surprised.
- About what?
I recall Article 27
of the Muche Boarding School rules'.
"Teachers who give private lessons
in their classrooms
"must pay the administration
10% of their earnings."
I was not aware
you gave this student lessons.
They're not real lessons.
You're playing on words.
No, sir, they're free lessons.
If you give free lessons,
no one will want to pay.
And your colleagues will lose
their precious extra income.
- Maybe you're a rich man.
- Not at all, sir.
That's your business.
But despite your show of generosity,
you must pay the 10% fee.
It's not for a miserable question
of money.
But out of respect for the rules,
which must be as unchanging
as the laws of nature.
I understand fully, sir.
What is this mammal?
A squirrel, sir.
It's mine, I brought it in
for one of my lessons.
- Very well.
- Sir, I believe I have
succeeded in recruiting
a new student.
You will note,
this is the seventh one.
Seventh what?
The seventh new student
I recruited for us this year.
So you've done the family
a big favor?
Yes, in fact. It's true.
- What is the child's name?
- Gaston Courtois.
I regret he's not an aristocrat.
This would influence
my decision.
Is he truly exceptional?
Possibly. I tutor him at his aunt's,
his parents are away.
I believe he has an agile mind,
the ability to grasp...
Good, good.
Will they accept our conditions?
3,000 francs a month?
Will the child sign up for
extra classes?
- Probably.
- Fencing, modeling, choir?
No doubt.
- 3,000 francs a month?
- I suppose.
Dance, painting
and Esperanto for 1,200?
They'll recognize the importance.
Do they know we must charge
for other additional expenses?
What expenses?
Pens and blotters, 100 francs,
drinking water, 50 francs,
access to library, 200 francs.
A 300-franc deposit
for minor damage'.
ink stains, names engraved on desks,
writing on walls. And lastly,
300 francs a month
for specific school insurance
which covers sprains, fractures,
scarlet fever,
mumps and poked eyes.
You think they'll accept this?
- Certainly.
- Then he's truly exceptional
and I will make an effort.
Since you were foolish enough
to commit yourself,
I must help you out
of this unfortunate bind.
You mustn't take this for granted,
I expect a display of renewed zeal
to show your gratitude.
You can count on it, headmaster.
Very well.
Here's the file you submitted
for your academic decoration,
I have the pleasure of announcing
that the Academy lnspector
spoke to me about you
in flattering terms.
He said: "Mr. Topaze deserves
to be decorated ten times over.
"Ten times over,
and I was almost ashamed
"to discover he hasn't been."
You embarrass me.
"Especially since this year,
I cannot award him."
- He can't?
- His last words were:
"Tell Mr. Topaze that this year,
"I'm decorating him morally."
It's possibly even more moving.
Hello, old boy.
Hello, Tamise.
What's the matter? Are you ill?
To the contrary, I'm very well.
Imagine, the Academy lnspector
told Mr. Muche, in person,
that he was decorating me morally.
Morally? What does that mean?
It means he thinks I'm worthy.
That's nice,
but you still don't have it.
Of course, if you really
examine things, I don't have it.
And your musician?
Have you caught him in the act?
No, not yet.
I'm sure that once again,
in just a while, during my class,
I'll hear his four ironic notes.
They destroy my authority,
tarnish my reputation.
I've given it much thought.
If you like, I have a plan.
The first time
you hear the serenade, don't react,
continue as if you'd heard nothing.
He'll play louder.
You walk backwards, slowly
approaching the source of the noise.
When you're sure, you spin around,
yank the boy off his bench
and slide your hand in his desk!
You'll find the instrument
as sure as my name's Tamise.
Your plan is very clever.
I only have one objection.
This maneuver is a sham,
a sort of premeditated plot
that is not completely honest.
The musician who's wearing
on your nerves is hardly honest.
Yes, but he's a child.
Hello, gentlemen.
Mr. Topaze, would you happen
to have any colored chalk?
Certainly, I'm not very well-off
for colored chalk,
- but I have blue and red.
- That will be fine.
Playschool children require
sizeable amounts of colored chalk.
Yes, this morning we have a lesson
on butterflies.
One needs a riot of color to draw
those lovely Lepidoptera!
Here you are.
I'll give you green and purple too.
Thank you, Mr. Topaze.
Dear man, excuse me, had I not
been here, she might've stayed.
Things seem to be going well
between you.
And you don't know everything.
Earlier on,
she positively came after me.
Well, well.
Yes, she quite simply reproached
my coolness.
Of course she didn't say "coolness",
she's far too modest.
But I convinced her once again
to give me her students' homework.
And she accepted?
Here it is.
And you couldn't help
declaring your undying love.
I was very direct,
but I didn't get as far
as a confession.
I don't know if you realize it,
but you're an innocent.
We're talking about the hand
of Ernestine Muche.
Yes, it's true. That is big.
You're aiming high.
Yes. If I were to succeed,
people might say I aimed too high.
People might think
you made use of your looks
- to take over Muche's school.
- Yes, that's true.
Of course, one must be ambitious.
You'll play your best hand.
Yes. My best hand.
My best hand?
What do you mean by that?
You prepare the ground
with meaningful looks.
You know, eyes half closed,
a dreamy expression, like this.
- Are you sure?
- If you succeed, it's fabulous.
Then you slowly approach her,
lower your voice,
and you pounce!
- How do you pounce?
- A bit of emotion, poetry,
and a request in due form.
If she hesitates, be daring,
kiss her.
Kiss her? But what will she do?
She might just be in raptures.
That would be marvelous,
but I don't dare hope.
You never know.
Or perhaps her modesty
will cause her to react,
she might push you away and say:
"What are you doing, sir?"
But no matter,
as long as she doesn't cry for help,
it means "yes".
And the kiss? Where?
On her forehead?
Silly man!
A kiss on the mouth.
On the mouth?
- You've done that before?
- Dozens of times.
Well then, I'll try.
What worries me most, is the father.
Yes, the father. He's certainly not
the same kettle of fish.
Oh, the father.
I'm sure he esteems me,
he knows I'm perfectly honest,
but a refusal
would cause me such pain that...
I'd rather sound him out first.
I know what you're getting at!
You want me to do it?
- I didn't dare ask.
- Fine, at the first opportunity.
Be discreet,
don't arouse his suspicions.
You know me, I'll approach
the question with great tact.
The moment seems favorable,
for this very morning
I announced the arrival
of a new student.
- Where did you unearth him?
- I give him private lessons.
I advised his parents
to put him here.
The boss will be happy,
but you'll lose your lessons.
I didn't want them anymore.
- They're not well paid?
- To the contrary.
It's a long story.
Imagine, this child lives
with a young woman, who's his aunt.
She's very young. Neither married,
nor divorced nor a widow.
Then what is she?
I believe she's an orphan.
But very rich.
She received me the first time in
a boudoir from the Arabian nights.
Silk fabrics, antique paintings,
cushions on the floor.
She must be rich.
You can't imagine.
Almost every day after my lesson,
a distinguished gentleman,
he must be a servant,
takes me to the boudoir,
where the young woman questions me
as to the child's progress.
My dear friend,
maybe it's the dcor,
or perhaps her perfume,
but every time I talk to her,
I can't remember what I've said.
You're simply not a man of the world.
I'd like to see you!
She was sitting on a cushion,
wearing the finest silk stockings,
with precious heels,
and gloves made of snakeskin,
once even gold-colored.
She's a chorus girl!
Don't judge so harshly
a person you've never seen.
She's a lady of society.
High society.
I've met a grand gentleman
at her home several times,
surely a friend of her father's.
- I'm looking for Mr. Topaze.
- Third door on the left.
So this is what I thought...
- There she is. Go.
- What?
There she is. Go.
Go out that way.
- Hello, Mr. Topaze.
- Madam.
I wanted to visit the school
before meeting the headmaster.
- A good idea it seems.
- Of course, I agree.
Allow me to accompany you
to Mr. Muche's office.
- He'll be delighted to meet you.
- Excuse me.
- Where are the other playgrounds?
- The others?
I imagine the children play
in a garden?
No, madam.
I understand,
the courtyard may seem small,
but in reality,
it's made bigger by a clever rule.
Mr. Muche noticed that
running children
take up far more space
than immobile ones.
Thus, he's forbidden all games
that require moving around
and the courtyard is far bigger.
That's how you squeeze
a large number
of anchovies into a tiny jar.
These doors lead to the classrooms?
Yes, madam. There are six.
What I've seen so far, takes away
my desire to send a child here.
I'm sorry, madam.
Have I hurt your feelings?
No, it's a little hitch,
nothing more.
I say hitch, because I'd already
spoken to Mr. Muche
about the brilliant student
I was so pleased to send him.
He'll certainly think that
I spoke rashly.
I'll see him myself.
I'll explain
that it's no fault of yours.
You're very kind, madam.
And you can tutor Gaston
two hours a day.
Two hours? Unfortunately,
that's impossible.
My schedule does not allow me
this luxury.
Then you'll continue coming
one hour.
Mr. Topaze, please do me the honor
of introducing me.
Allow me to introduce you
to Mr. Muche.
Madam Courtois, whom I spoke of.
Madam, I am deeply honored.
Mr. Topaze mentioned my project?
- Yes, madam.
- It's still a project.
- I have a nephew.
- Charming child.
You know him?
Not yet. But my excellent colleague
has praised him.
Upon his advice,
I might send him here.
A very good idea, madam.
This child, who sounds exceptional,
would quite naturally blossom
in our care.
We understand youthful intelligence,
which is like a budding flower.
One must unfold it petal by petal
so as not to ruffle or damage it.
I must tell you,
my decision is not final.
The child's health is fragile,
I must consult a doctor
before sending him here.
Madam, allow me to inform you,
our specialty is sickly children,
they leave here with rosy cheeks
and invigorated limbs.
Your school sounds like
a sanitarium.
I wouldn't go that far,
but I've no doubt
that your nephew would gain
- in both vigor and schooling.
- I believe you.
I'm willing to try,
if the doctor allows.
Madam, whatever your decision,
I'll be eternally grateful
to Mr. Topaze for introducing you.
- You have a precious colleague.
- I know.
He knows he has my esteem
- and friendship.
- He surely deserves both.
I'll be expecting you at 5:00.
Of course, madam.
Allow me to show you the way.
It might work out...
My dear colleague,
you have beautiful visitors.
She's the parent of a student...
Now I understand
why you've been neglecting me.
You give your calendars to others.
Here's your chalk, take it back.
Though your lady does not seem
to be in need.
Please, don't be angry.
Mr. Topaze, I'm not angry.
I've come to ask you a favor.
You know I'm at your disposal.
We'll see about that.
Imagine, I'm taking singing lessons.
- I'm sure you have a pretty voice.
- Yes, very pretty.
I have lessons every Thursday,
from ten to twelve o'clock.
My father doesn't know,
it's a secret with my mother.
I appreciate your trust,
it'll be our secret too.
But the headmaster has decided
that our walks will resume
next Thursday.
- Does that mean anything to you?
- Yes, sort of.
But I don't see exactly what.
Next Thursday I have to take
my playschool children on a walk.
Do you see what favor I'm asking?
You want me to ask Mr. Muche
to change the time of the walk.
Not at all!
I want you to take them on a walk.
But of course. I've nothing to do
on Thursday mornings!
Perfect, I'll tell my father
you asked to take over
because you wish
to get some fresh air.
Excellent. What feminine cunning.
Miss Muche, it is with profound joy
that I'll take these children
on a walk, because l...
because l... Iove you.
Yes, I love you. Not with perverse
and dishonorable passion,
but with deep, honest love,
you could even say, conjugal love.
Miss, I want to tell you...
I want to tell you...
And don't forget the walk
on Thursday.
She had the expected reaction.
Divine modesty.
But she didn't cry for help.
I think it's all right.
Divine modesty.
Come in.
Quiet, settle down.
Mr. Cordier,
where do you think you are?
Wednesday, November 17,
ethics examination.
Please write down, gentlemen,
the date of this examination
in your notebooks.
Will you behave?
Mr. Kerguzec,
I don't need to turn around
to know that it's you
who's upsetting the class.
Kerguzec, to the door! I saw you.
No use hiding, come out at once.
Where's Kerguzec?
He's been absent for three days.
Absent? Then he's absent.
As for you Mr. Cordier,
I order you to stop acting up.
Now write.
To prepare for this examination,
which will take place
the day after tomorrow,
we will have a sort of
general oral revision.
But before starting this revision,
I would like to address one of you.
The one who's been disturbing
our class
with untimely music.
I'm asking him, for the last time,
to stop playing his little prank,
which I will gladly forgive.
I'm sure that he's understood,
that I have not appealed
to his moral sense in vain.
All right.
From now on, my hands are free.
Now to work.
The problem you will treat,
which will determine your ranking,
will not be restricted to
a specific question
as would be a question concerning
homeland, civism,
duty to one's parents or animals.
Instead it will be
a fundamental question
on the notions of good and evil,
vice and virtue.
To prepare you,
we will examine ethics
of civilized peoples.
Together we will determine
the vital necessities
which oblige us to obey moral law
even if our spirits are not
naturally inclined to respect it.
Let's take examples from daily life.
Let's see, Mr. Tronche-Bobine.
To succeed in life,
that is occupy a position
that corresponds to your merits,
what must one do?
- Be careful.
- Yes, if you like.
Careful of what?
- Drafts.
- Mr. Tronche,
your last grade was a zero.
Try to improve it.
You must be ho...
Zero, sit down!
You must be honest.
Here are some concrete examples.
First, all dishonest undertakings
are doomed to sure failure.
Look in the papers: one cannot
defy human laws with impunity.
One day,
you see a horrible madman
who slits someone's throat
for the contents of his wallet.
The next, an alert mind,
armed with prudence and tools,
illegally opens
the lock of a safe
to steal pension titles.
Then a cashier
loses his boss's money
by betting wrongly on future results
at the horse races.
All these unfortunates are arrested,
dragged in front of judges.
They are taken to prisons,
where they're harshly rehabilitated.
These examples prove that
evil is immediately punished,
for departing from the right path
means falling into an abyss.
Let's suppose that, by chance,
a dishonest man
succeeds in becoming rich.
Let us imagine this man,
who enjoys wrongfully earned wealth.
He is admirably dressed,
he has several floors to himself
where lackeys serve him.
He has one servant
who does the cooking.
And a special servant
to drive his car.
Does this man have friends?
Yes, he has friends.
He has friends?
Yes, many friends.
Why would he?
To ride in his car.
If such people existed,
they'd be wicked courtesans.
This man has no friends.
People know his fortune
is illegitimate.
They flee him. So what does he do?
- He moves?
- Maybe.
And in his new home?
- All falls into place.
- No, it cannot fall into place.
Because wherever he goes,
he will be lacking the approval
of his cons...
Of his cons...
I'm sure this ludicrous response
was not premeditated.
But you might think before speaking.
That way you would avoid zeros,
which are a harsh blow
to your grade average.
This man will never have
the approval
of his conscience!
Alas! Tormented day and night,
pale, thin, worn out,
to finally find peace of mind,
he gives his fortune
to the poor, because he'll have
understood that...
"lll-gotten gains never prosper."
And that...
"Money does not bring happiness."
Let us now look
at the fate of the honest man.
Mr. Trampouse,
what is the honest man's
state of mind
- after a day's work?
- He's tired?
Come now! We've said it 20 times.
Is work tiring?
Work is never tiring.
Idleness tires:
the devil finds work for idle hands.
Perfect, Mr. Bertin. You get a 10.
If this honest man is a cashier,
even in a big bank,
he will keep accounts
with scrupulous detail.
And his enchanted boss
will give him pay raises each month.
If he's a businessman, he'll refuse
inflated or illicit profits.
He'll be compensated by the esteem
of all those who know him,
and their trust
will make
his business prosper.
Should war break out,
he will enlist in his country's army.
If he's lucky enough
to be seriously wounded,
his government will decorate him
with medals,
which his fellow citizens
will admire.
Children will greet him
in the street,
old men will whisper
as he passes by...
- To the door at once!
- It wasn't me!
It's not you? Stand up.
Here is the instrument,
the affair is closed.
You take my goodness for weakness?
My patience for blindness?
Mr. Sgudille,
beneath this velvet glove
is a hand of iron.
And if your mind is wicked,
I'll break you!
- Where are you going?
- To the door.
No! Stay here!
In front of your comrades,
who judge you severely.
When class is over,
I'll decide your fate.
Until then,
I condemn you to uncertainty.
After this unfortunate incident...
The Baroness Pitart-Vergniolles
wishes to speak to you.
- Headmaster...
- It's very urgent.
Children, you can go play.
I've told Mr. Le Ribouchon,
he'll watch them.
In silence, gentlemen.
He likes you so much, he insisted
I ask you for more lessons.
- He sings your praises.
- I'm very flattered.
Each week you can give him
all the lessons you like,
at the price you wish.
Very noteworthy!
When you meet a master
of great value,
it's best to leave things up to him.
- Madam, I'm embarrassed.
- Nonetheless...
I must discuss
an important issue with you.
An easily sorted trifle.
I just received
my son's end-of-term report
and I don't dare show my husband.
I explained to Madam
that it was surely a mistake
made by the secretary.
I don't believe so.
First of all, I have no secretary,
I wrote it with my own hand.
The Baroness,
who requested you as a tutor,
has three children in our school.
I have obligations towards her.
This is why,
I'm sure there is a mistake.
So look closely, Mr. Topaze,
examine it
with your full perspicacity.
There's nothing to examine,
there were only zeros.
It's human to make a mistake.
Errare humanum est,
perseverare diabolicum.
Be good enough
to recalculate the child's average.
Gladly, it won't take long.
Will you have the opportunity
to see the Academy lnspector soon?
He's coming to my home
on Wednesday evening.
He has great esteem for Mr. Topaze
but he didn't decorate him.
He decorated him morally.
Mr. Topaze will be decorated
at once, I promise you.
My dear friend, Madam promises
that you will be really decorated
next year.
It would be a great joy.
You've no idea what it means to me.
- You found the error?
- There aren't any.
Come on, be logical!
You believe Madam
about your decoration,
but not when she affirms
there's a mistake.
Madam, there is no mistake possible.
His best grade was two.
He had another zero yesterday
in mathematics.
Eleventh and last: Pitart-Vergniolles.
- Why is my son last?
- Yes, why?
- Because he had a zero.
- A zero.
- Why?
- He didn't understand the problem.
- He didn't understand.
- And why didn't he?
I'll tell you, since you force me
to change my tone.
My son was last,
for the test was rigged.
Rigged? This is very serious indeed.
It was a sort of labyrinth,
with two road workers
digging a rectangular basin.
I say no more.
She says no more.
After such a libelous accusation,
you must explain.
Calm down.
Do you deny
having a student named Gigond?
A student named Gigond?
I've a student named Gigond.
- Gigond?
- His father's profession?
I don't know.
Gigond's father
has an excavation company.
In Gigond's garden,
there is a rectangular basin.
And no one's surprised
that Gigond is first.
That Gigond is first.
- I hardly see the relation.
- The problem was designed
to favor Gigond.
My son realized it at once.
Nothing discourages children more
than injustice and fraud.
My integrity has never been
questioned before.
Calm down, please!
It is regrettable
that the best math student,
due to his father's profession,
and his basin,
benefits from a certain familiarity
with the problem.
It will not reoccur, I'll see to it.
Furthermore, I can guarantee
the perfect good faith
of my colleague.
Perhaps, but I cannot accept
that my son is last.
That her son is last!
He's last, it's a fact.
An inexplicable fact!
Madam, I'm happy to explain.
Speak, I'm listening.
Madam, your son is a growing child.
Physically speaking, he vacillates
between two distinct states.
Now he chatters,
jiggles coins in his pocket,
sniggers for no reason,
or throws stink bombs.
That's what I call the active phase.
The second state is just as clear,
it's a sort of depression.
In these moments, he looks at me,
he stares.
He seems to be listening
but in reality, his eyes wide open,
he's fast asleep.
- Asleep?
- How odd. Asleep you say?
If I ask him a question,
he falls over.
- Falls over!
- You must be dreaming!
I speak to you in his interest,
I'm sure my frankness
will serve him,
for a mother's eyes do not see all.
And what do they not see?
Look at your son, madam,
he has a sallow complexion,
protruding ears,
pales lips
and a blurry expression.
I'm not saying his life
is threatened by a severe disease,
but I do believe he probably
has adenoids, or a tapeworm,
or bad heredity, or maybe all three.
He requires medical surveillance.
What is this foul-mouthed rubbish?
A seedy supervisor
criticizing the Pitart-Vergniolles!
Criticizing the Pitart-Vergniolles!
A down-and-out
trying to land private lessons?
- Madam, I was talking...
- Chasing after decorations!
- I already have them morally!
- Excuse yourself
instead of talking nonsense.
Mr. Muche, if this slanderer
remains in your school,
I withdraw my three sons
on the spot.
As for his hypocritical report,
this is what I say!
You addressed this woman
with stupefying audacity.
Catch with her before she leaves
and excuse yourself.
I had no intention of offending her.
If she does not forgive you,
your career
is seriously compromised.
I'm running, headmaster.
Good day, headmaster.
I have some advice to ask you.
Come back at noon.
Excuse me,
I should rather speak to you now.
- I believe the timing's right.
- Go ahead.
You're not only master and director
of this school,
you're the highest moral authority.
If you like.
Which is why I seek your advice
on a personal affair.
I have a friend who is young,
- and who has a promising future.
- And?
He's in love with a young girl
who is not indifferent
to his charm,
for she encourages his advances.
Normally, it should end in marriage,
but there is a difference
in fortune and position.
My friend is a lieutenant,
and the young girl's father
is a general.
Here is my question for you:
if my friend approaches the father,
how will he react?
A question that deserves study.
Is your friend an honest man?
Yes, I guarantee it.
Is the general kindhearted?
He has a general's soul.
Your friend should present himself.
He will be received with open arms.
Well then, the general is you.
I'm the general?
The lieutenant is Topaze,
the girl the gracious Miss Muche.
- Topaze wants to marry my daughter?
- Yes.
And you say she's encouraged him?
Very discreetly,
like a well-bred girl.
For example?
She entrusts him with her homework,
they meet here during playtime.
- It's idyllic.
- I'll study the question.
- What do I tell Topaze?
- Nothing.
I'll talk to him myself...
I have a question for you.
- Do you think electricity is free?
- In what sense?
You forgot to switch off the lights
in your classroom.
They were still on this morning.
I will withhold 300 francs
plus a 1 00-franc fine.
if you were more attentive
in your classroom,
I would not have the displeasure
of reading, engraved in a desk,
in large capital letters:
"Muche is a swine."
- Which desk?
- Go look, Mr. Tamise.
Find the guilty party
or you'll replace the desk.
And since you asked my advice,
listen to this:
stick to your job rather than
playing matchmaker
and manservant. Good day!
I'm not retaining you!
Is it true,
Topaze corrects your homework?
- Yes, it's true.
- Why?
Because I hate doing it.
And if I find some imbecile
who's willing to, I see no harm.
I don't reproach you for that,
the principle is not condemnable.
But why does the idiot do it?
Because I lead him on.
- You give nothing in exchange?
- Nothing!
Then why does he think you love him?
- He wants to ask for your hand.
- Let him ask.
How would he dare
if things hadn't gone further?
Tell me, what's between you?
- Nothing, he makes eyes at me.
- That's all?
- He tried to kiss me.
- Where?
In his classroom.
In a classroom! If the children saw
and told their parents!
Do you want to chase away
our last students?
The cook will do that.
Answer me!
Rather than dishonoring your father.
- There's nothing between you?
- Of course not.
- Who do you think I am?
- Then come with me!
The lady will not listen to me
before I find my mistake.
But there is no mistake.
I can't invent one.
You're the disgrace of my school!
You give private lessons
in secret for free,
you announce new students
who refuse to enroll,
you refuse to find errors
when parents demand it,
- you rig your examinations...
- Headmaster...
In addition to stupidity and deceit,
you add scandalous lechery!
Me? Miss Muche!
In this very classroom,
before your horrified students,
didn't you dishonor my daughter?
Me? Ernestine?
To spare the school,
I won't call the police,
but you can collect your pay
at once.
As of 10:30 this morning
you are no longer employed.
Come on, Ernestine.
Headmaster? Mr. Muche!
Me, dismissed?
It's dreadful.
A day of misunderstandings.
The examination is postponed
Rgis, you're joking.
No, darling,
I have a million for you.
I want one and a half
or you'll never set foot here again.
One and a half,
that's a big present.
It's not a present, it's my share!
I do nothing for it, maybe?
No, you give me precious advice.
But if the mayor voted
my street sweeper machines,
it's because I voted
his underground urinals.
- A bit of respect, please.
- What do you mean?
I don't like you
talking about urinals.
Tell me clearly you want
to swindle me out of my share.
I need it very soon.
I promise you,
I have no liquid assets.
The street sweepers
will bring in 1 0 million.
1 0 million gross! I have expenses.
On top of the usual bribes,
I have to pay the union 800,000.
Why? The sweepers should be happy.
Those who use the machines, yes,
not those who're laid off.
- Why laid off?
- These machines
will cause 220 layoffs.
That's what allowed me
to get the vote.
I must compensate the personal
or there will be trouble.
Then there's the press,
and... my wife.
Your wife what?
I'll have to buy her a car
or a mink.
I didn't realize you told your wife
about your frauds.
I don't tell her a thing,
she reads the council minutes.
Then she demands her share.
If you spoil your wife,
you can't refuse your mistress.
- Look at the balance sheet.
- I don't care.
- I'll have to pay you myself.
- That's what you're here for.
- That was a mean thing to say.
- Is it yes or no?
It's yes!
Mr. Roger Gatan de Bersac.
Bring him to my office.
Very well, sir.
- New business?
- No, the sweepers.
The bid closes tomorrow,
it's not settled?
- Yes, but he hasn't signed.
- He refused?
He couldn't, his arm's been
in a sling. Dislocated ligament.
What's this nonsense?
An accident.
His starter was stuck,
he tried to crank start it
and that was it.
- Honey, you were taken for a ride.
- A ride?
This gentleman playacted
to postpone signing.
He's here now.
- On what conditions?
- Five percent, as usual.
- Don't count on it!
- Is he up to something?
We have to finalize it tonight.
If I were in his shoes,
I'd ask for 35%, he'll want 30%.
If the bastard tries that,
he won't get away with it!
Calm down, darling.
It's not the moment to shout.
Let's see what can be saved.
Avoid any outbursts of insults
which will only ruin things.
Be calm and distinguished.
If you can.
- Mr. Gaston's in his room?
- Yes sir, waiting for you.
Thank you.
- Hello, Mr. Topaze.
- Hello, madam.
You need something?
This morning,
you asked if I could give Mr. Gaston
Iessons two hours a day.
I wanted to say,
if your proposal still holds,
I'm ready to accept.
It's impossible now, his father's
coming to take him home.
Very well, madam.
Are you disappointed?
This morning you told me
you didn't have time.
True, madam,
but since 10:30,
I have much more free time.
Mr. Muche reduced your hours?
Yes, he reduced them.
In fact, he reduced them to nothing.
He pays you to do nothing?
That is to say,
he reduced my wages proportionately.
- That was a mean thing to say.
- Is it yes or no?
He threw me out.
How unfortunate. It wasn't my visit?
No, madam.
Merely a series
of incredible misunderstandings.
May I give one last lesson
to Mr. Gaston?
Of course, he's waiting for you.
I'll give him a farewell dictation.
OK, drop it.
Considering our differences,
I think this discussion is over.
What? You're leaving?
- One million.
- A million?
- He demands one million.
- And he offers me 300,000.
300,000 isn't much,
but a million is enormous!
If that's not a madman's claim,
what is?
The madman will depart.
Madam, allow me.
Come on, you can't lose this deal
because you're in bad moods!
Let's have a drink.
"And one of his officers...
"of his officers
"known for his bravery
"and its severity", comma...
Rgis, shake the cocktails.
- May I ask a question?
- Of course, madam.
Why this sum? Until now
your demands were more modest.
You took 5%
for the school heating units.
Yes I took 5%, but I was,
pardon the expression, a sucker.
A sucker who got 450,000 francs.
And you, 7 million. Compare.
For God's sake,
who's the town councilor? You or me?
You avoid the point.
Not at all!
Would the council have voted
the installation without me?
Not on your life.
We'd just bought brand new stoves.
We had to smash them
with sledgehammers!
Even if we needed steam radiators,
- would we have come to you?
- Why not?
You didn't even know what they were!
You wrote "gladiator" five times
in your report.
- I've all the more merit.
- That's true.
But all you do is lend your name.
That's right.
That's right!
- Don't be unfair, it counts.
- Especially my name.
Roger Gatan de Bersac.
Since yesterday, I'm treasurer
of the Gay-Lussac circle.
Which proves
my reputation has integrity.
And integrity costs money
because it's hard to find.
I've known people with integrity
who took 4%.
Yes, people with no standing.
I must demand sums
that correspond to my standing.
When I met you, you had debts.
I got you back on your feet.
- That's what you say.
- And how!
Your car? The wood cobblestones.
Your studio?
The slaughterhouse lighting.
Your mistress's mink?
The morgue refrigerating.
You're avoiding the point.
No, I'm not. This is the point.
The truth is,
you're ungrateful.
So that's it,
your sling was a mere maneuver.
A wicked maneuver
to cover blackmail.
Well, it's disgusting.
You dare suggest that...
I wasn't born yesterday.
I did it before you.
Then you know the strength
of my position.
I've got you over barrel, it's true.
But tell me:
what would you think of me
I'd think you were my friend.
Roger, you are a friend.
Yes, I'm a friend.
But I want your esteem:
a million or nothing.
Listen to me!
I don't like being played with.
No million, no 500,000, no 100,000.
It'll be nothing.
I'd rather renounce
than deal with a madman.
Cancel the loans.
We'll do without sweepers
because you're a bad citizen.
You're being hard.
And a bad Frenchman.
You attack my honor!
It's not your honor I aim,
but your heart.
Mr. Roger de Bersac,
won't you make a small sacrifice
for our street sweepers?
Think of these unfortunates,
every day at dawn,
sweeping debris into the gutter
with coarse broomsticks.
In the 20th century,
can we stand seeing
these men, electors,
wasting their strength
on demeaning tasks?
When machinery allows us
to replace them with a truck,
clean, efficient, smart-looking.
Can we stand for this?
Can we stand hearing
his town councilor's speech?
If you make fun of such things,
then farewell!
Don't get upset over nothing.
I'm an elected member,
I won't be insulted.
Who's insulting you?
This shark could show some respect
for my function!
Madam, I cannot stand this.
My respects.
You haven't tasted your drink.
No! No more drinks,
no more sweepers, no more agency.
He can starve on a street corner
for all I care.
Tell him to get lost!
In your family, you get lost.
In my family, we take leave.
That's how you bungle
a fabulous deal.
Shouldn't you have been more wary?
What can I say? I'm too honest!
Crookedness always astounds me.
Times are getting tough.
My dad never trusted friends,
but I thought accomplices were safe.
That's changed too. What a world!
I hope you won't cry?
A missed opportunity, that's all.
That's all you have to say?
What else can I do?
You must know other frontmen?
Try to reach Mntrier.
He's gone. Someone gave him
a nice mountain range in Tananarive.
- He went to sell it to the locals.
- Then who else?
I'm thinking.
What about Malaval?
His cover's blown.
And Faubert?
Faubert, that would be a dream.
Such a nice kid.
A clever, devoted collaborator.
So reputable.
Wagram 8602.
Not now, he's in jail.
And Picard?
Why not? He'd be perfect.
He's serious, he has connections.
Why not him?
He's my wife's lover.
Sorry, I didn't know.
The whole town knows.
You're the only one who doesn't.
Shows how little I interest you.
I knew she had a lover,
I just didn't know who.
I'll reread.
"When Boabdil", comma,
"King of Granada left
the kingdom of his people", comma,
"he stopped on a hill
overlooking the valley
"and tears welled up in his eyes."
Period. New paragraph.
It can't be that hard
to find someone.
I see you haven't examined
the problem.
Nothing is more delicate.
If you take a morbidly honest man,
he'll refuse most deals.
And a modern-minded man
can push modernism so far
as to rob us.
The deals are all in his name.
And we can't take him to court.
In short, we need someone honest
to do dirty deals.
Let's use innocent words
to cleanse our mouths.
We need someone to do business
today in yesterday's manner.
Or a relation.
Someone we hold something over.
An honorable name,
or a sense of family obligation.
Like your sister's lover,
if she only had one.
Your brother,
if he didn't have a record.
Or your father,
if you knew who he was.
How much would you pay?
I'd pay up to 500,000
for the street sweepers.
- And for the agency?
- 1 0%.
Could I keep the difference?
- Yeah, what's your idea?
- Topaze.
Who's Topaze?
Gaston's teacher.
The bearded fellow?
This isn't a new idea,
I've been thinking of it.
With him there's no danger.
Why not?
We hold something over him.
- Which is?
- Me.
Sure. You think that and...
If I ask him,
he'll sign eyes closed.
He's badly dressed
so he's honest?
I've known blackmailers
who looked poor.
But if he agrees, he'll keep silent.
When he's done a few deals,
he'll be inoffensive.
We can always try.
Open quotation marks.
"Cry like a woman over that
which you did not keep as a man."
End of quotation. Come in.
Madam wishes to see you.
- Right away?
- Yes, right away.
Very well, I'm coming.
My dear friend,
let me introduce you to Mr. Topaze.
Mr. Castel-Vernac
is an important businessman.
I'm very honored.
The honor is all mine.
You're very kind.
Not at all, not at all.
Sit down and have a drink with us.
It's a great honor, madam.
I spoke of you to Mr. Castel-Vernac.
Madam, you're too kind.
And he wants to help you.
Sir, I'm very grateful.
Not at all, it's only natural.
Madam has spoken of your value.
- Oh, you know...
- Yes, yes!
Value that is currently unemployed?
Yes, that's it.
Mr. Castel-Vernac
wishes to exploit this value.
He wishes to exploit this value.
Are you keen to stay in teaching?
Keen to stay in teaching?
Yes, madam.
Because it's
a highly respected profession
which is not tiring
- and rather lucrative.
- Rather lucrative?
This wine is strong.
Yes, rather strong.
What can you earn teaching?
Certain private tutors like myself
earn up to 1 8,000.
Per month?
Yes. But teachers must invest
in clothing.
They are sometimes called upon
to mingle in high society.
- But when you earn 18,000 francs...
- It's fine.
The question of earnings
is a bit vulgar, but important.
Money doesn't bring happiness,
but we're happy to have it.
The situation that Sir
might propose you
would enable you to earn more.
Not a lot more,
but a little bit more.
I could offer you a fixed salary,
plus a percentage.
You'd earn 40,000 francs on average.
- A month?
- Yes.
- For me?
- Yes.
For what kind of lessons?
It's not lessons.
I need someone to carry out
certain functions that are...
I wouldn't say difficult,
but delicate.
Would I be capable of carrying out
these delicate functions?
We shall see.
May I look at you?
Naturally, sir.
A few questions?
- With pleasure, sir.
- Do you have family?
No, I'm alone in the world.
All alone.
That's perfect.
I mean, how sad, but that's destiny.
- Who are your relations?
- My colleagues.
I mean my former colleagues
from the Muche school.
And an old army comrade
who's a waiter.
Please see these good people
as little as possible.
- And never in our offices.
- Naturally.
But what would my functions be?
My dear Topaze,
may I call you "my dear Topaze"?
- It's a great honor for me.
- Sit down.
My dear Topaze,
I'm creating a new business agency.
But since I'm overwhelmed with work,
I need a right-hand man.
The agency will be in his name,
in a certain sense,
he'll be the director.
This would be your post.
Your trust honors me,
but I fear you don't know
my capacities.
You're a teacher, Mr. Topaze!
Precisely, madam, I am a teacher.
Outside of the classroom,
I'm good for nothing.
- You can dictate?
- Oh, that yes!
You'll dictate letters
and check spelling.
Spelling I can take care of.
- And you can sign your name?
- Of course.
My signature is not pretty,
but it's hard to imitate.
No student has ever succeeded.
Then you'll sign for me.
What do you think of this proposal?
I think it's the chance of my life
and it's all thanks to you.
Oh no...
- I forgot.
- What?
- Where were you born?
- In Arles.
The sweepers are off.
Why? Because I'm from Arles?
- We've no time to get his papers.
- That's true.
- Here they are.
- You carry them with you?
Only by chance,
Mr. Muche gave them back to me.
- That's amazing!
- You see, God sent him!
No madam, it was only Mr. Muche.
What do you say?
We have everything we need.
He can sign for the sweepers?
I find myself in an unknown world.
This isn't too fast?
I want to go fast, don't hesitate.
- What do we risk?
- Nothing.
I'm not sure to succeed,
but we can try.
- You take full responsibility?
- Absolutely.
So be it.
I'll give you my signature first.
Oh, thank you.
"Pay to the order of Albert Topaze
the sum of 60,000 francs." Why?
Your commission
plus a one-month advance.
60,000 francs?
It's too good to be true.
Sit down.
Now you sign these papers for me.
Madam, sir,
it is with great emotion
and everlasting gratitude
that I sign these papers.
Under your name write:
"Business Agent".
Thank you, dear director.
I have to run, I'll be right back.
If you care to wait,
we'll have time to chat.
I hope you're happy.
Madam, how can I express
my devotion?
By fulfilling your function.
For the moment,
you sign and keep quiet.
Keep quiet?
In business,
discretion is everything.
Very important!
Professional secrecy.
Like doctors.
I'll need other signatures later.
May I borrow Madam?
With pleasure, sir.
- What do you mean with pleasure?
- I mean...
He's incredible.
Dear director...
60,000 francs.
429 lessons at 140 francs.
Business is amazing.
If Tamise saw me,
he who called me a social climber.
Maybe he was right.
- You like painting?
- I'm rather curious.
- Do you paint?
- No, sir.
- Are you an art merchant?
- No.
I'm in business.
Me too.
A friend of Castel-Vernac?
I can't say a friend,
though he's very friendly.
I'm a mere collaborator.
For a long time?
Only several minutes.
But I hope for a long time.
The sweepers, it's you?
The sweepers?
Sir, in business,
discretion is everything.
- Especially for such deals.
- Perhaps.
Not perhaps, surely!
I know about the sweepers.
I know someone else who could've
done it for cheap. Like you.
For cheap? Like me?
Between us,
how much is he paying you?
This I can answer
because it concerns myself.
Take a look.
60,000? That's your commission?
My salary and commission!
- You think it's funny?
- A little, yes.
I had no difficulty obtaining
this sum,
he offered it to me.
In business,
it's often useful to act dumb,
but you push it rather far.
I find it painful to be called dumb
by someone I hardly know.
Out of respect for our hostess,
perhaps we should stop here.
Such respect for a man
who'll send you to criminal court?
- Criminal court?
- Maybe sooner than you think.
It's not me who'll denounce you.
But there are other people
who could spill the beans.
If you agreed to be a man of straw
for this sum, it's regrettable.
You talk about this affair
as if it were dishonest.
I demand an explanation.
Of all the rascal's dirty deals,
the street sweepers
is by far the most dangerous.
To whom, in your mind,
does the term "rascal" apply?
Our brilliant town councilor.
What town councilor?
You didn't know Castel-Vernac
was town councilor?
Then you don't realize
what he expects?
I must assist him and sign papers,
no more.
No more?
That's a good one.
What is your background?
- I'm a schoolteacher.
- I should have guessed.
If I were you, I'd grab my hat
and run. You've no business here.
You cannot slander people
without elucidation.
What has my benefactor done?
Your benefactor
uses his political mandate to vote
the purchase of anything at all.
Which he then supplies
via a frontman.
- That would be corrupt practice!
- Maybe.
The most shameful form of theft!
He didn't invent it, it's the basis
of all democratic systems.
- And others too.
- Proof! Give me proof!
I'm happy to enlighten you,
but never say who told you.
If it's true, I promise silence!
This being the enemy's lair,
I'd rather invite you
to a charming little bar nearby.
If teaching hasn't ruined you,
one glance at these papers
and you'll understand.
If you've lied, I'll denounce you.
And rightly so. But follow me first.
The coast is clear.
That's it.
The tender's been submitted.
Where's your protge?
I think he's giving a lesson
to Gaston.
This boy's perfect. I like him.
The stereotype of an idiot.
do you know who Castel-Vernac is?
- Who I am?
- What a strange question.
Do you know what I just learned?
What is this bad joke?
This man, whom you trust
and honor with your friendship,
this man is dishonest.
- What?
- Think before you speak.
Listen carefully to my words.
Mr. Castel-Vernac is a corrupt man.
Therefore, it is necessary
to put him in prison.
- Farewell.
- Where are you going?
- To see the state prosecutor.
- Wait a moment.
Don't worry, he's in my room.
I'll take care of it.
Mr. Topaze, do you wish my loss?
- You?
- Me.
- Your fate's entwined with his?
- Yes.
You're the accomplice of that shark?
Good Lord!
You understood too soon.
You know now
what I wanted to say later.
Which was?
My story, my stupid story.
- We have little time, listen.
- I'm listening.
When I met Castel-Vernac,
I was a child.
He knew my father,
he was our financial advisor.
He was a lawyer and politician.
- Naturally.
- Yes, naturally.
When I found myself alone,
I turned to him,
for he was the executor
- of my father's will.
- I see.
He advised me to sell everything:
factory, land and castle.
I entrusted him with my fortune,
which he invested for me.
What a story, good Lord.
But I didn't know.
Periodically, he had me sign papers
I didn't understand.
Only that they were city contracts.
- And you signed?
- Yes.
You should have cut off
your right hand.
Yes! But I signed without realizing.
Like you, earlier.
Yes, like me earlier.
- When did you understand?
- Too late.
Too late? It's never too late.
It was too late to save myself.
Who would've believed me?
You needed only relate
the painful tale you just told me.
One cannot mistake sincerity.
Maybe I should have denounced him
at once.
But now it's too late, I'm lost.
This year, I assisted all his deals.
He forced me to participate.
You took me for an accomplice.
I'm not an accomplice,
but a victim. Don't be harsh.
There you go,
the secret dramas of high society.
He's the perfect monster.
Yet it's you who threw me
into his clutches.
- Why?
- You didn't understand?
- No.
- What can a woman do
in a dangerous man's power?
Cry, and look for support.
And you chose me?
Why, madam? Tell me.
I don't know.
Yes, you do know.
Tell me!
The first time I saw you,
I was struck by your energetic face.
I thought I read a certain interest,
almost devotion, in your eyes.
I said to myself: "This man is
different, he's simple, intelligent,
"energetic, disinterested.
"lf I had a man like him near me,
I'd feel protected, supported,
"maybe even saved."
Was I wrong?
No! I wish to be worthy
of this immense honor.
Madam, what do you expect of me?
Silence. If you talk,
I'm ruined and dishonored.
Fine, I'll be quiet.
And I want you to stay with me,
I need you so much.
- I'll stay with you.
- Thank you.
- You know the conditions?
- No.
You must accept the post
and re-win Castel-Vernac's trust.
Study him, search for
his weak point. You'll find it.
And when you can strike
without harming me, do it.
I discover a criminal
and I must become his accomplice?
Yes, if you wish to save me!
This debate is Cornelian.
What crossroads!
What conflict of duty!
If only I had time
to weigh the pros and cons.
No, you must act at once,
he's in the next room.
He thinks I'm explaining
the advantages of your complicity,
and possibly offering you a raise
to calm your scruples.
What baseness!
Let him believe
that's what we were discussing.
But to calm his suspicions,
we must show proof of complicity.
Yes, of course. But what?
Yes, what?
What if I shake his hand
when I see him?
Yes, do that. But it's not enough.
What if I gave his papers back?
- Yes, but they must be signed.
- Why?
Your signature means
you're on his side, it'll calm him.
Sit down.
What do we have here?
"The purchase of eight houses,
Rue Judeau,
"for resale to the city,
"which will expropriate them."
Take this pen and sign here.
This is difficult.
For me.
Criminal court...
Criminal court...
Call the police!
Money does not bring happiness.
Ill-gotten gains never prosper.
What is it?
A gentleman is asking
for the director.
Oscar Muche? Tell him I'm out.
Tell everyone I'm out.
I want to see no one.
No one!
Very well.
While you're here,
Mr. Castel-Vernac
does not look kindly
upon the games I tolerate.
He said I should forbid cards,
dominos and backgammon.
Moreover, he does not appreciate
the presence of your young visitors.
He believes them to be suitors.
You can tell him he's wrong.
I have no suitors, Germaine either.
They're kids we meet in the street,
they come here to kiss.
Germaine has a broken heart,
she needs distraction.
That's why she drinks Pernod.
If you try to stop her,
she'll go mad.
I'll talk to Mr. Castel-Vernac,
but until further notice,
don't bring anyone else up.
And no more games.
"The eye was in the tomb
"and looking at Cain..."
Hello, my dear Topaze.
How are you?
As good as can be expected,
I appreciate your concern.
- Where are you dining tonight?
- In my room.
- With a lady friend?
- No, madam.
Solitude and reflection.
- Then you'll dine with me.
- With you?
With Castel-Vernac and some friends.
You'll enjoy yourself.
I would like permission to refuse,
I'd rather see no one.
You refuse?
If you allow me.
Even if I say
I'd like to chat with you?
I've forgotten how to chat,
it'll be no pleasure for you.
What's the matter with you?
Madam, I know everything.
I started working here
almost five months ago,
and 27 days ago,
I learned that you tricked me!
You take me by surprise.
On April 13, at 7:00 at night,
I went to your home,
for you'd invited me.
I waited in the salon
and through the glass door,
I heard a horrifying conversation,
but which made perfect sense.
Mr. Castel-Vernac said:
"Darling, why did you invite
the likeable idiot?"
And you answered:
"The likeable idiot is very useful,
"we must cajole him a little."
The likeable idiot, was me!
As for the word "darling",
it clearly explained the nature
of your relation with this man.
If you didn't see,
you deserved that we hid it.
- Hide!
- Hide what?
"That we hide it."
- So you admit it?
- And so what?
And so what? Good Lord!
It only proves one shouldn't listen
behind doors.
I thought you had more tact.
That was a nasty way to learn
what everyone knows.
You dare suggest I'd have accepted
this situation had I known?
You lured me into an ambush.
It was chance that brought you here
when we needed you.
It's because I like you
that I offered and you accepted.
I accepted for a smile,
for your words,
intoxicated by your absurd story
that your beauty made me believe.
But on April 13, I saw reality.
A reality made of mire and mud.
The weight of my acts crushes me.
Hidden in this office,
I feel besieged by the universe.
You lock yourself inside
like a prisoner.
Take advantage of your situation,
see people, go out!
Go out? You think I could look into
the eyes of an honest man?
Even if the eyes of an honest man
were different,
one meets so few of them.
It's true, you look like a madman.
Listen, you're not well.
You need to rest,
I'll tell Mr. Castel-Vernac.
- No, I'll stay here and wait.
- Wait for what?
For that which must come to pass.
Have you denounced us?
No, I don't even have the courage
to do that.
Revealing your indignity
would be to proclaim my infamy.
And how could I denounce you?
You're mad but you say sweet things.
Yes, sweet.
I've been expecting this scene.
I knew you'd learn the truth
one day.
I wondered, with a certain anxiety,
what you would do.
Madam, I lost weight.
That's all I could do.
My friend, at times I truly regret.
You regret nothing,
you obtained what you desired.
A man of straw,
submissive and timorous.
That way you make money
and live in false security
with the one you love.
Come, Topaze, be realistic.
Then why are you with him?
- He gives me an honorable life.
- Honorable?
You're a kept woman.
Like all women.
Husband or lover,
is the difference that great?
- Hello, Mr. Topaze.
- Hello, boss.
Hello, Suzy.
Anything new?
By chance,
- did Mr. Rebizoulet stop by?
- No one's come.
Well, someone will.
You'll treat this affair alone.
I chose an easy one to start with.
And since you're always glum,
it's funny.
- Very well, councilor.
- Rebizoulet
will surely come today.
Rebizoulet is the owner
of the Swiss caf.
In front of his brasserie last year,
our health services built
one of those sheet metal monuments,
known as an outdoor urinal.
A fine idea.
However as the summer advances
and the sun warms,
this structure makes
the outdoor caf unbearable.
Clients pick up and leave.
So Rebizoulet asked me
- to remove it.
- Understandable.
I said I had no time,
that he should address Mr. Topaze,
and it would surely disappear.
Thus, he will come.
And you will receive him.
You'll tell him
that you will take care of it,
but you have expenses,
and that before taking a step,
you need 100,000 francs.
With what pretext
should I color this request?
You don't need to color it.
You ask for 100,000 francs
and he'll give it to you.
I'll have the urinal taken down
and moved across the street
- in front of the Bertillon caf.
- And Mr. Bertillon?
He'll do the same.
He'll give you 100,000 francs
and we'll move on.
Before this urinal is finished,
we'll have made 3 million.
It's a surefire,
practical and amusing deal.
We could do 5-6 cafs a year,
on a regular basis.
Doesn't it sound like fun?
Then laugh, old boy!
Is it necessary
that I receive Mr. Rebizoulet?
You've been here five months,
it's time to get active.
Your signature suffices,
but I don't want you to be idle.
I want to train you,
make you an active collaborator,
shrewd and knowledgeable.
I might be deputy one day,
there's money to be made.
We could do big things together.
Yes, why not.
Speaking of which,
did a certain Dumas-Montessian call?
Yes... is he insane?
Oh, not at all.
He's our middleman.
He likes to joke.
Here is what he said to me:
"Your two twins are in the drawer,
ready to pass under the table.
"Though they're perfectly black,
"I'd rather you came
to pick them up."
And you didn't go?
Pick up what?
Two stacks of a million in cash
which will never be accounted for.
Grab your hat and hurry over there.
Ground floor on the left.
- Shouldn't you go?
- No.
I've dealt with Montessian,
but never seen him.
I want to keep it that way.
Whereas me, I've sunk so low,
I should be glad to meet him.
Does he have stamped paper
or should I bring some?
What for?
For the receipt he'll need.
Does he do it on purpose?
You'll have nothing to sign.
Or say.
I'll phone him.
If I never return, don't worry.
Even under torture, I'll never talk.
Even if you're expecting it,
it comes as a shock.
- You had time to go to Auteuil?
- Auteuil, no.
To a penal colony, perhaps.
I was tailed, tracked!
There were two of them.
With mustaches.
Luckily I caught on.
I went around the block
and came in the back.
A shrewd reaction for an honest man.
If not, Montessian, the twins and l
would've been in handcuffs.
Why would they tail you?
Because the police
have been watching us.
Madam, you don't know all.
I've hidden from you
the glaring symptoms
of imminent catastrophe.
Why did you hide such symptoms?
I felt it wasn't my place
to warn you or Castel-Vernac.
Here, madam,
is a letter I received last week.
"Topaze, there's trouble in the air.
"The eyes of the police see all.
"Drop the bone or you're done for.
"A friend."
It's absurd! An anonymous letter.
I forbid you to frighten me
with such silliness.
And this?
"The lnformation Service
of the Public Conscience
"has discovered a serious affair.
"Corroborating information
shows that
"a town councilor voted
a sizeable loan to buy vehicles,
"which he supplied
at an exorbitant price.
"The frontman in this affair
is an unfortunate supervisor
"dismissed for a sex case.
"Soon we will have the figures
and guilty parties."
- Have you spoken to Rgis?
- No.
May his destiny unfold,
I shall not flee mine.
Another thing, madam.
Yesterday morning,
in front of the copper plaque,
people stopped.
A group gathered,
it was soon a crowd.
They shouted and waved their fists.
- Did you see them?
- Yes, madam.
When I approached the window,
the boos increased.
It was not a hallucination,
I saw and heard them.
They were shouting:
"Topaze, shame on you!
"Get the police!"
Get the police!
- Give me a few minutes.
- Yes, sir.
Though it is rather urgent.
He's very kind.
This outcome was inevitable.
Because society is well designed.
Crime inexorably
leads to punishment.
If you have the chance
to start anew,
remember there's only one path,
the right path!
What is it?
It's your employee,
she stands at the window and shouts.
It started yesterday morning,
I was passing by as usual,
when I saw at the window
a woman showing her bosom.
Not all, just one breast.
One tit, you could say.
With all due respect.
Naturally, several people stopped,
some even applauded. Mainly men.
I told the captain
and he said:
"Don't mess up, you hear?
"Mr. Topaze, he's an engineer,
he designed the street sweepers.
"The woman at the window,
maybe it's American advertising."
This morning, I see her again.
But this time she had a bottle
in her hand. So I understood,
she's a woman who drinks,
so I came to tell you.
I'm very grateful, sir.
Considering the state she's in now,
may I accompany her home?
Yes, of course.
Come on, little girl.
Come on, let's go, little girl.
There. Easy does it.
There'll be no follow-up?
Follow-up? Don't say such things,
I'm a married man.
I came in without being announced,
thanks to this disorder,
which is an ominous sign.
Do I have the pleasure
of addressing Mr. Topaze?
Yes, that's me.
- How can I help you?
- You can't.
It's not for your help
that I came here today,
but to offer mine.
Thank you very much.
But I'd like to know, who are you?
Who am l?
An old philosopher
with a weakness for others.
You must have read an article
the day before yesterday
which clearly alluded
to certain affairs of yours?
In effect, it might seem
that the suspect supervisor
could be myself.
But I was never dismissed
for a sex case.
I know, you must allow journalists
a bit of fantasy.
It is nonetheless true
that you supplied the City
street sweeping machines
called "Topazes".
The newspaper director
led a serious investigation
and tomorrow's issue will reveal
the entire scheme to its readers.
It's this issue I brought you.
Thank you.
"Scandal at City Hall."
Four columns of irrefutable proof,
500,000 prints in the street.
With my photograph.
But why do these people
want my ruin?
The first duty of the press
is to survey morality
and denounce abuses.
It's their sole reason to be.
In any case, you've been forewarned.
Thank you
for your spontaneous visit,
but I don't see how it helps.
You've nothing else to say?
Like what?
I know the director, Vernickel,
very well.
You don't have a message for him?
Tell him that he's right
to do his duty.
You're going to just wait
for a scandal to break?
Think about it, honor
is what's most precious,
it's worth any sacrifice.
Vernickel isn't a monster.
Certain gestures touch him.
Come now,
you know what you must do.
I don't dare understand your words.
Dare, sir, dare.
If I do it, the issue won't appear.
I give you my word,
it'll be a first-rate burial.
Show a bit of good will, come on.
Right away?
The earlier the better.
- Here, in front of you?
- Yes, by Jove.
You wish to see
a fellow human moaning?
Who says you have to moan?
I always tell them:
"Why moan,
you're going to pay up anyhow."
But no, they always moan.
You'd think it relieves them.
You're too cold blooded.
Yes, I committed a serious fault.
Yes, I deserve to be punished,
- Who's this...
- This man knows our secrets.
- He demands I kill myself.
- No joke?
No, I only wanted...
- How much?
- 200,000.
- What?
- Forget it, sit down.
- Is this it?
- Yes.
- Does Vernickel know I'm in on it?
- Yes,
but he told me
to see Mr. Topaze.
He's no dummy.
There we are.
Excuse me.
Give me Mr. Vernickel
at the Public Conscience.
Venerable old man,
this isn't your first blackmail job?
Do I look like a beginner?
I started with (censored).
- That was nice work.
- Oh yes.
You better believe it,
deputies, ministers, fine people.
I've done around forty jobs.
Without ever hearing a crude word.
And in those days,
I didn't have my physique.
Physique is nothing, it takes nerve.
Don't believe that, your physique...
Hello? Yes, hello, dear friend.
Very well, thank you.
I'm with a venerable old man,
a friend of yours.
I find him expensive.
Ah, yes! A little reduction.
How much?
No, that's still too much, old boy.
I'd be willing to pay 100.
No, 100 sous... 5 francs.
It's not nice to menace friends.
OK, wait a second.
Have you heard this one?
"Apprentice printer flees Melun
in November 191 1
"with the boss's till.
"He is sentenced on January 2, 1 912
by a criminal court
"to 1 3 month's prison."
Strange, no?
Of course,
a simple misunderstanding.
Yes, an old friendship like ours.
And your little Victor, how is he?
Yes, that's the best age.
Of course, goodbye. See you soon.
It's settled.
And settled well. My compliments.
- I've no choice but to retire.
- True.
Good day.
Excuse me, one last thing.
Please walk out facing backwards.
If you don't, I won't be able
to resist kicking you.
Very well, very well.
That's that!
That's that.
Tell characters like that
to come see me.
See you later.
See you later.
Hello, dear friend.
I'm pleased to see you. Delighted.
I've come by so many times,
but you're always out.
I understand, of course.
You're a businessman now.
And what business!
What business!
- You've heard?
- Of course.
I know you're modest,
but you can't stop friends
from being proud.
We all remember you. Only yesterday
at the disciplinary counsel,
I said I was going to offer you
the presidency
of the honor awards committee.
They welcomed this news
with such joy,
you would've been touched.
They begged me
to obtain your consent.
- Me? President?
- Yes.
You'll give a charming speech,
with a touch of emotion.
At least I hope.
No, it's impossible.
Between now and then...
there was a serious misunderstanding
between us.
But I know you're an upright man
and I owe you the truth.
Swear you'll never repeat
what I'm going to tell you.
If you esteem me enough
to share a secret,
it'll remain buried inside me,
I swear to you.
I'm no longer an honest man.
Oh, come now!
I'm a mere frontman.
- Come now.
- I'm telling you.
People say so many things.
My dear friend,
you adore paradoxes,
that is your charm.
It's obvious
I didn't invent the street sweepers.
People must recognize it and say it.
Let them come see me.
I'll tell them I saw your plans
and sketches on the blackboard.
Did you see them?
Sort of.
Anyhow I'm ready to testify.
Do you earn a lot?
- Too much.
- The right answer.
You're truly extraordinary.
I've known it for a long time.
How many times did I say at dinner:
"This boy has too much ambition,
he won't stay with us."
And I told my wife:
"When he wants to leave,
I'll let him go."
It was out of pure friendship,
that the day you asked me to leave,
I didn't try to hold you back.
Now, my dear friend,
I wish to discuss a subject
that is close to my heart.
I'm a father, Topaze.
An unhappy father,
you can't imagine.
- Miss Muche is ill?
- Alas!
Does her fate still interest you?
She's been struck
by an incurable ill.
Her lungs?
No, her heart.
See a specialist.
He stands before me. Alas, yes.
When you held the place of honor
at my school,
you walked down the hallways,
Iost in scientific speculations
that kept you from looking down
and seeing the heart
of this poor child.
Your daughter's heart?
She was touched by love's wings.
And me, blind father,
I didn't understand.
But since your departure,
her behavior breaks my heart.
She lies by the fire.
By the fire...
She's lost weight.
Then yesterday,
she told me everything.
This is a father's confession.
- Please stop.
- Say no irreparable words.
She's in the antechamber,
waiting anxiously.
I asked you for your
daughter's hand and you fired me.
- You asked me for her hand?
- Yes.
- You can have it!
- Mr. Muche.
Come here.
Miss Muche, I must tell you
that I refuse this hand
which your father threw in my face,
as you did too.
I had no hope whatsoever
that my father's simplistic plan
would work.
It is far too late for us
to speak of marriage.
But since by chance,
you've risen out of poverty,
I thought,
in memory of colored chalk sticks,
that you might be willing,
not to take my hand,
but to hold out yours.
- Fear not, I won't hang on.
- I don't understand.
What could I do for you?
Speak to the Academy lnspector?
Open doors to another world.
Only once a week, on Thursdays.
You'd buy me a real dress,
take me to the races,
to the theatre, fancy restaurants.
I'm not as stupid
as I pretended to be.
I might do you honor.
Once I've been introduced,
I won't bother you long.
Give me a chance.
And in exchange for this
shameful favor, you'd be ready to...
A beautiful girl can only give
what's hers.
Tell me, dear friend...
Very charming.
Miss Ernestine Muche, schoolteacher.
Pity if she stays it.
"Stayed it"!
Muche. Don't know why,
makes me think of a squirrel.
Mr. Topaze had one
- at school.
- But mine was real!
An innocent little creature
that was happy
- where it was.
- It was stuffed!
- She's charming. My compliments.
- To me?
I'm absolutely not interested
in Miss Muche.
Especially not now.
Perfect! You live at home?
But my father has a great deal
of common sense.
Charming and reasonable.
Go have a look
at the Picasso exhibition,
58 Rue de la Botie.
I'll drop by around 5:00.
We can talk painting.
Oh, I love Picasso!
My father's in the waiting room.
I'll get rid of him and hurry over.
- This is appalling!
- Come now.
Let's just call it
"professional orientation".
Moreover, it's not for me,
it's for the senator.
His Lison married
a rich silk merchant
and the good man's lonely.
Here's the Rebizoulet dossier.
Madam Courtois said she'd send
the car for you at 7:30.
You're dining with us tonight.
We'll talk business
and I have a surprise for you.
First, here's a check
for 500,000 francs.
Mr. Castel-Vernac owed you 435,000,
but he rounded it up.
This was very generous of him.
Now you will give me back the key
to the bank safe.
I cancelled your power of attorney.
You relieve me
of a great responsibility.
It's not out of distrust,
but to relieve you of a worry.
I want to put you, Mr. Topaze,
fully at ease.
I'll relieve not only of one worry,
but all your worries.
You weren't born for business,
you've no gift.
- We can't have them all!
- But you do have one.
That's for teaching.
I just ran into Miss Muche...
- Where?
- At the office.
She was with her father,
she's a teacher.
They praised your talent.
I felt remorse for having deprived
education this long
of such a fine teacher.
I have a friend,
the principal of a free school.
He offered you a post for
a monthly salary of 40,000 francs.
And three months paid vacation.
Now for the surprise.
What's this?
This is for me? It's official?
Your diploma is inside.
I propose a toast
in honor of our friend,
high school professor
and officer of the Academy.
You look thoughtful.
Is it the emotion?
You want to get rid of me?
In our common interest,
it seemed to me the only solution.
You're not happy here.
No, I wasn't happy.
Until now, I only did
stupid, childish things.
But I don't want to teach,
I want to stay with you.
Are you seeking a small indemnity?
No, boss. Not a small indemnity.
A big one then?
Maybe he's not as stupid
as he seems.
Your position
is not as strong as you think.
Blackmail won't work.
I wasn't thinking of that.
Tell me what you want.
I want to stay here!
- What for?
- To prove myself.
Prove yourself?
I thought you already had.
You have visions, you hear talking
street sweepers,
you attract the police...
I was unaware of many things
I'm only starting to grasp.
Today brought revelations.
Which ones?
Life isn't what I thought,
you were right.
Everything proves it.
This food, this wine,
these furnishings,
this atmosphere, this charm.
I'd easily get used to it.
Shall I receive Mr. Rebizoulet?
I hope this decision
isn't due to a glass of champagne.
If I must drink others,
I'll resign myself.
Give him another chance.
Sober, he's dangerous.
I'm asking you.
You'll wear your ribbon
for confidence.
My ribbon?
This is truly the ultimate honor.
It's not a prank?
The diploma is in its casing.
Read it!
"From the Minister
of National Education
"to Mr. Albert Topaze, engineer,
"for exceptional services."
Show Mr. Rebizoulet in.
He has nerve,
I said I'd be here at 2:00.
If he's held up,
he could at least phone.
As far as you're concerned,
he has an excuse.
He didn't know you'd be
at our meeting.
I've been at every meeting
for eight months!
Of course, but you were there
as a spectator, or by chance.
He knows your presence
isn't necessary.
I guess you're right, I'd best go.
I didn't dare ask, but I'd rather.
I wouldn't like to think
you're waiting for him.
You're right.
You'd be happy if I left.
I'm not that stupid, darling!
What do you mean?
You wanted to hide the Morocco deal?
What Morocco deal?
You look guilty. You deny it?
I don't know what you mean.
Your dishonesty proves
you intended to keep my share.
But I don't understand.
You're unaware
of the Morocco concession?
Land with marble quarries,
lead deposits and oak forests?
It's news to me. Who told you?
It'd be hard to ignore,
the deputy's here every day.
You think I didn't see the map
marked in blue?
- You must think I'm an idiot.
- The map?
I didn't even notice!
Nothing's worse than hypocrisy.
Nothing's worse than this story
I know nothing of.
Then why shouldn't I stay?
Listen, it's simple.
Topaze has become very proud lately.
He's taking himself too seriously.
When I'm alone with him,
I let him ramble on,
but I fear your presence
will excite his vanity.
If he exceeds my patience
I'd be obliged to dismiss him.
- It might be best for him.
- You pity him?
You're afraid of him!
Me? Afraid of an employee?
In any case, your employee
isn't afraid of you.
No, he's no longer afraid of me.
And it's your fault.
- My fault?
- Under the pretext
of reassuring him,
you came here too often.
You even went so far
as to advise him on clothing.
A badly-dressed agency director
arouses suspicion!
Yes, but now when I need him,
he's always at his tailor's!
Or at the pool!
And you did worse.
What's that?
You taught him about food!
- I only invited him a few times.
- Twice a week.
You taught him fine cooking.
Now he has the intelligence
and energy of a well-fed man.
It was the same
with my mother's chimpanzee.
When she bought him, he was skinny,
stunk of poverty.
I never saw a monkey
so affectionate.
We fed him coconuts,
stuffed him with bananas.
He grew as strong as an ox
and beat up the maid.
We had to call the firemen.
I'm going to tighten the reins.
How dare this shabby character!
This unfortunate supervisor...
I inform you
that it's quarter-to-five.
We've been waiting for two hours.
- This is incredible...
- One moment, please.
Done! I'm delighted to see you.
- What brings you?
- July's payment.
It's September 4.
Madam, you incarnate grace,
whereas payments
are hard and dry things.
I beg you,
do not let me hear a voice so pure,
for it will make our poor figures
sound ridiculous.
What can I do for you? Figures?
Yes, let's talk figures.
I'll give you my viewpoint after.
I'd be delighted to hear it.
For the month of July, I owe you
- 970,000 francs.
- That matches my figure.
Does that include the Morocco deal?
What is this?
- It's personal.
- What do you mean?
- I mean none of your business.
- Mr. Topaze...
- What's going on?
- It seems clear to me.
Let me explain, please.
- A cigarette?
- No, thank you.
Dear friend,
I have a little calculation for you.
This agency has made profits
of 7,684,000 francs in six months.
This office cost
700,000 for the lease
and 900,000 for furnishings:
1,600,000 altogether.
Compare these two figures: 7,684,000
and 1,600,000.
- I don't see the point.
- It's very important.
This comparison proves
that you made a very good deal,
even if it were to end.
Why would it end?
Because I intend to use this office
for my business.
From now on the agency is mine.
Any profits belong to me.
If I have any dealings with you,
I agree to pay a 6% commission.
No more.
I always told you
Topaze was a comedian.
If you find it funny, wonderful!
I didn't dare hope.
You think you're owner?
I am owner.
The agency is in my name.
The lease is in my name.
The place is legally mine!
- That would be theft.
- Take it to court.
I've seen crooks,
but rarely such cynicism.
Flattery won't help.
You can't just take this!
- Say something!
- My God!
Madam, that's all he can say.
It's surely a misunderstanding.
- You're incapable of this.
- You wanted proof.
Come on, think about it!
Without me you'd be with Muche!
I taught you everything.
You made 7,684,000 francs.
No student ever gave me that.
I simply can't believe it.
You're an honest man!
I had esteem and affection for you.
Yes, affection!
I can't believe you'd do this
to me for money,
it's too painful.
You're hurting yourself.
Suzy, tell him he's hurting himself.
Come on, I'll give you 10%.
You see, Rgis, I saw you at work
and I judged you.
You're uninteresting.
You're a crook, yes that you are.
But a little one.
Your deals have no ambition.
Fifteen sweepers,
thirty manhole covers,
ten dozen enameled spittoons.
The game isn't worth the candle.
As for speculations
such as urinals on wheels,
that's not business, it's poetry.
No, you're just a small fry,
stay in politics.
That's it, same as the chimpanzee.
That's all you can think to say.
What can you say to a bandit?
You're a bandit!
You're not a man.
And you, madam, please be quiet.
- Are you his accomplice?
- You know I'm not.
He'd never have had the audacity
without you.
Go on, admit you're behind it.
I've been wise for a while.
You won't get away with this.
I haven't paid you enough?
- That's the height of vulgarity!
- Oh, vulgarity!
If you want to shout,
please do it elsewhere.
- You wore rabbit when I met you.
- How crude.
She wore second-hand hats.
I forbid you to speak like that
to a lady. Leave!
We'll see who has the last laugh.
I'll be back.
- I'll go to the public prosecutor.
- I doubt it.
- You've ridiculed me.
- That's true.
I expect your attitude to change.
We'll talk later.
You talk crudely to a woman
because you fear a man.
I find you despicable.
- Madam...
- Leave, sir!
- What do you think?
- Go on.
- I could use physical strength.
- Go ahead.
- But I'm not a brute.
- You said it.
I'll make you pay for your boasting.
- Meanwhile, I'll laugh.
- That's it.
He's shown his true face.
He'll soon make poor excuses to you,
which you'll accept with a smile,
to keep your honor.
I find you impertinent.
Perhaps too much.
I get the feeling
you've lost your head.
You think this displays intelligence?
No, authority.
- A display that will cost you.
- Why?
The agency in itself is worthless.
It made money
because Rgis was behind the faade.
From now on, there's me.
What will you do alone?
Ask what I've already done.
For three months now,
I've worked for myself.
I've made interesting acquaintances.
And I've made money.
When the Morocco deal...
- Is that serious?
- There's nothing more serious.
5,000 hectares, limited companies,
4,000 incorporating shares for me,
sold on the market.
You've changed.
For the better?
Maybe, but not for me.
- How's that?
- I had shares here.
By stripping Rgis,
you're stripping me.
I had an 8% cut.
It's up to you to keep it.
On what grounds?
I owe you much.
And I still need you.
I thought you were a big man.
No, not yet. I'm missing something.
- What?
- The dazzling sign of success.
An elegant well-known mistress
to escort me
and receive my guests
in tasteful surroundings.
- I think you're moving a bit fast.
- How's that?
I know how Topaze works,
I helped make him.
Which is why I allow myself
to give you some advice.
It's your advice I'm asking for.
I'd like your opinion on my choice.
If your choice is made,
it's too late to ask me.
Who is it?
- Guess.
- Do I know her?
- Very well.
- Brunette or blond?
- Blond.
- Small?
Average height.
- Pretty?
- Very pretty.
But moreover,
distinguished and refined.
In her blue eyes
burns formidable intelligence.
It's for this reason
that I chose her.
- Did I do well?
- Surely.
But maybe she's mocking you?
Who knows?
Maybe she doubts your future?
She'd be wrong.
Prove yourself further before
making proposals that could shock.
You think so?
She'd put you in your place.
On this point I think you're wrong.
I think I should speak to her
as soon as possible.
Too bad for you.
Her lover left,
she's only waiting for the word.
I find you vain and pretentious.
Go ahead, try your word.
- Try now, it'll amuse me.
- Very well.
- Passy 4352.
- What?
The baron left her yesterday.
I ran into her, we had tea together
- and it seemed to me...
- Oh, how stupid.
Why play this little comedy?
What did you hope for?
Nothing. What can I hope for?
You knew me too poor and too dumb.
I'll never win your heart.
I'll always be "the likeable idiot".
- Likeable...
- But idiot.
Know what we could do?
- Yes, I do know.
- Don't be silly.
I'll hurry home, Rgis is waiting.
You miss him already?
We have accounts to settle!
I'll come back for you
and we'll continue our conversation,
which is not uninteresting,
at the Armenonville.
I'd prefer the Moulin de Micherelle,
the nights are more beautiful.
As you wish. But there's one point
I will not compromise on.
- What's that?
- My 8%.
Topaze! You shaved it?
Yes, you know business.
Am I very different?
You look like an actor
from the Comdie Franaise.
I'm so happy to see you.
A pleasure you might've had sooner
but for so many closed doors.
Did your typists tell you?
They'd always say: "Sir is out."
After a while,
I thought you didn't want to see me.
I admit,
I found that hard to take.
Come on, old friends like us!
Especially since I have
something important to tell you.
- Tell me.
- You know I'm your friend.
A sincere friend,
who's never been indiscreet.
But what I have to tell you
is very serious
for it concerns your reputation.
My reputation?
It pains me to tell you this,
but I heard
people say that your associate
is a mad politician.
One honest man even insinuated
that you knew it, and that you were
involved in doubtful affairs.
- Doubtful?
- Doubtful.
And these rumors were validated
by the press.
A perfectly honest man gave me this,
it appeared in
a serious paper some time ago.
What are your conclusions?
My dear man, I came to warn you.
Carefully survey the affairs
you treat with this gentleman.
And write to the papers
to set them straight.
Thank you, Tamise.
I'm perfectly aware
of the affairs I've treated.
They aren't doubtful.
Not in the slightest.
These affairs are simple riggings
founded on influence peddling,
bribery of officials,
and corrupt practices.
- You old devil!
- I'm not joking.
You want to teach me a lesson.
I admit, I deserve it.
But they sounded so certain,
and this paper...
I don't know if it's because
you look like an actor,
- but I almost believed you.
- You must believe me.
Everything I've done
is against the law.
If society were well designed,
I'd be in jail.
- What did you say?
- The truth.
- Are you mad?
- Not at all.
Then it's true,
you've become dishonest?
Tamise, don't look at me
in such horror.
Let me defend myself
before condemning me.
You who were pure conscience,
who pushed scruples to obsession.
I can say that for ten years,
with strength, courage and faith,
I worked hard, I tried to be useful.
For ten years,
I was paid 1 7,500 francs a month.
Then one day,
because he requested an injustice,
the honest Mr. Muche threw me out.
I'll explain later
how fate led me here
and how I did illegal dealings
despite myself.
As I fearfully awaited punishment,
I was given the reward
my humble services could not obtain.
You were decorated?
Yes, and you?
Not yet.
You see, Tamise,
I may have left the right path,
but I'm rich and respected.
Sophism! You're respected,
for your baseness is unknown.
That's not true.
You said a perfectly honest man
informed you. Was it Muche?
Yes. You'd blush if you heard
what he said about you.
This perfectly honest man
came to see me.
I told him the truth.
He offered to give me
false evidence,
his daughter's hand,
and the presidency
of the awards committee.
The presidency? Why?
Because I have money.
You imagine that for money...
Yes, innocent child that you are.
That day, the champion of morals
only wanted 500,000 francs.
Money. You don't know the value.
Open your eyes, look around you.
Look at your contemporaries.
Money buys everything.
You can have anything.
If I want a modern house,
an invisible fake tooth,
permission to eat meat on Fridays,
praise in the papers,
or a woman in my bed,
will I get it with prayers,
devotion and virtue?
You need only open this safe
and say: "How much?"
Power rules the world.
And these little paper rectangles
are the modern form
of power.
Thank goodness
you stopped teaching,
for if you were to teach
ethics again...
You know what I'd tell my students?
Children, the proverbs you see
on this wall
might have corresponded
in days gone by to a lost reality.
Today it seems their only purpose
is to put you on the wrong track
while smarter ones divide the prey.
In our era, scorning these proverbs
means the start of a fortune.
If teachers had the slightest notion
of reality,
that is what they'd teach.
And you wouldn't be a poor bugger.
I might be a bugger,
but I'm not poor.
You're so poor you don't know it.
I may not have the means
for many material pleasures,
but they're the lowest ones.
You know I'm very happy.
You'd be much happier
if you could enjoy progress.
Yet progress was created
by people with brains, like you.
Come now.
- You know I invented nothing.
- I know.
You didn't feed the flame,
but you protect it with your hands.
It infuriates me to see
holes in this silk thread,
because you can't afford
the leather gloves
Iined with rabbit, that you've been
eyeing for three years.
Yes, it's true,
but they're 800 francs.
I can't steal them.
You're the one who's been robbed.
You deserve them.
Come on, make money!
Like you? No thanks.
I don't have the same motivation.
- What's that?
- Your theory,
I know where it comes from.
You love a woman who wants money.
She's right.
You see, I told you.
She's a chorus girl.
A chorus girl
who doesn't even dance.
That costs a lot.
Do you know women
who love poor men?
You can't say
they're all calculating.
I say that, in general,
they prefer men who have money.
It's natural, in prehistoric days,
while men carved up animals
and fought over the pieces,
women watched from afar.
And when the males broke up,
each with his share,
what did the women do?
They lovingly followed the one
with the biggest chunk.
Topaze, that's blasphemy.
Even if you're right,
I don't want to believe it.
If you're not completely corrupt,
make an effort, save yourself.
Leave this woman who's caused
your fall, come with me.
You're a good man.
But I don't need saving, you do.
You want to leave Muche?
You want to work with me?
When you do honest business.
My new business will be honest,
but not to you.
To make money,
you have to take it from someone.
In that case, there won't be
any honest people left.
Yes, there will be you.
Come see me tomorrow,
we'll see if we can't change that.
Oh no, especially not
if I'm the last one.
Maybe they'll give me a pension.
Oh, you're busy?
Everything's settled,
I'll wait for you.
So she's the Delilah who shaved you.
She's beautiful.
- Can you come back tomorrow?
- Yes, it's Thursday.
- Then goodbye, please excuse me.
- Go ahead.
Yes, Minister.
No, Minister, the director is out.
Yes, tomorrow morning, Minister.
Very well, Minister.
Excuse me, miss,
you're quite numerous here.
Five typists.
And who's the director's secretary?
He doesn't have one.
He doesn't have a secretary.
He doesn't have a secretary.