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|Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?|
|Directed by||Ted Kotcheff|
|Produced by||William Aldrich|
|Written by||Peter Stone|
|Starring|| George Segal |
|Music by||Henry Mancini|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|October 5, 1978|
|Country||United States |
Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?, released in the U.K. as Too Many Chefs, is a 1978 black comedy mystery film directed by Ted Kotcheff and starring George Segal, Jacqueline Bisset and Robert Morley. It is based on the 1976 novel Someone Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe by Nan and Ivan Lyons. The chefs are each killed in a manner reflecting their most famous dishes (for example, the lobster chef is drowned). The film was co-produced by the U.S., Italy, France and West Germany. The film was distributed by Warner Bros. and produced by Lorimar. Warner Communications acquired Lorimar in 1989 and now owns the rights to the film.
Natasha "Nat" O'Brien is a celebrated pastry chef invited to London to assist in preparing a state dinner for the queen, organized by culinary critic Maximillian "Max" Vandeveer. Natasha's ex-husband, Robert "Robby" Ross, is a fast-food entrepreneur ("the Taco King") serving the "everyman" consumer while she caters to the affluent. Max is the "calamitously fat" grand gourmand publisher of a gourmet magazine Epicurious and is patron of several famous European chefs, each renowned for a signature dish.
When Natasha arrives, Max is gloating over his latest issue, featuring "the world's most fabulous meal," which highlights the culinary masterpieces of his favorite chefs. However, Max's health is failing from an addiction to those chefs' specialties. After completing the meal at Buckingham Palace, Natasha has a one-night fling with chef Louis Kohner whose specialty is baked pigeon in crust. The next morning, Natasha finds Louis dead in a 450° oven. After being questioned by Inspector Blodgett, Natasha and Robby depart for Venice, where Natasha is wooed by another chef, Fausto Zoppi, whose specialty is a lobster dish. However, when turning up for their date at his kitchen, Natasha finds Zoppi dead in a tank of lobsters.
After more questioning, this time by Venice police, Natasha receives a call from Robby to come to Paris to help prevent one member of a group of French chefs from being murdered. When they arrive, they hold a meeting discussing how Louis and Zoppi were killed and what to do next. Later that night, after a phone call from Max (who learns from his assistant Beecham that Natasha is no longer in Venice, but in Paris staying with Robby), Natasha puts together what Louis and Zoppi had in common – both made a dish featured in the aforementioned magazine article. It is now known that the next to be killed will be Jean-Claude Moulineau, whose specialty is pressed duck. The disturbing fact is that the killings are following the order of a meal, so Natasha will be the last to be killed, her specialty being a dessert known as "Le' Bombe Richelieu." Robby tries to calm Natasha by suspecting Max as the killer, with the motive that he was the one who selected Natasha, Louis, Fausto and Jean-Claude to be in the magazine, but Natasha believes the killer is really Auguste Grandvilliers, with the motive that he was left off the list; however, when they attempt to call Moulineau to warn him, they receive a phone call from Grandvilliers that someone is at his restaurant. When they arrive, Robby and Natasha find Grandvilliers on a meat hook in the freezer, still alive.
Robby and Natasha begin falling in love again. After being questioned by police, Natasha and Robby learn from Inspector Doyle that Moulineau was killed after being pushed headfirst into a duck-press. Back in London, Natasha is set to be a guest on A Moveable Feast. Robby initially decides to stay with her to keep her safe. However, Robby and Natasha learn from Max that Blodgett called Beecham to inform her that Grandvilliers confessed to the murders, so Robby can head to Brussels. As he is heading to the airport, he's watching Natasha on TV and realizes that the cake that Natasha is set to light – the cake Robby poked three holes into like a bowling ball – was switched and now has a bomb inside it. He calls Blodgett to confront him about Grandvilliers' confession, only to learn no one confessed. That's when Robby once again suspects Max is the killer. He arrives at the TV studio and rescues her just in time, as 30–45 seconds later, the cake explodes on-air. In the end, the killer turns out to be not Max, as Robby suspected, but Beecham, Max's dedicated assistant whose motive was to kill the chefs in a vain attempt to keep Max on his severe diet by removing the focus of his addiction. In the final scene, Robby and Natasha get remarried.
Morley won Best Supporting Actor at the 1978 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards (1978) and at the National Society of Film Critics Awards (1979). He was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actor in a Supporting Role along with Bisset for Best Motion Picture Actress (1979).
The film received critical acclaim and currently has a fresh 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.Roger Ebert called it "a light, silly entertainment with class."
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