Cherchez la femme
Cherchez la femme [ʃɛʁʃe la ˈfam] is a French phrase which literally means "look for the woman." The implication is that a man behaves out of character or in an otherwise inexplicable manner because he is trying to cover up an affair with a woman, or trying to impress or gain favor with a woman.
Cherchez la femme, pardieu ! cherchez la femme !
The phrase is repeated several times in the novel. Dumas also used the phrase in his 1864 theatrical adaptation, which reads:
Il y a une femme dans toutes les affaires ; aussitôt qu'on me fait un rapport, je dis : « Cherchez la femme ! »
Translated into English this reads:
There is a woman in every case; as soon as they bring me a report, I say, "Look for the woman!"
The phrase embodies a cliché of detective pulp fiction: no matter what the problem, a woman is often the root cause. The phrase has come to refer to explanations that automatically find the same root cause, no matter the specifics of the problem.
List of appearances in media
The phrase occurs in the film "Hopscotch" in 1980 as Walter Matthau explains to a guy why he needs 500 dollars. The phrase appears in the film Carry On Doctor, where Fred (Julian Orchard) uses it in a more literal sense, simply referring to looking for a woman who Ken (Bernard Bresslaw) has seen and taken a fancy to. The phrase also appears in the films Chinatown and Dr. No. The phrase appears in the episode Rin Tin Tin and the Wild Stallion of the American children's television program The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.
Ghostface Killah's song "Cherchez LaGhost" is a reference to the phrase.
This phrase appears on the video game Fallout: New Vegas as a female character perk. In combat, the perk lets you do +10% damage against female opponents. Outside of combat, you will sometimes have access to unique dialogue options when dealing with the same sex.
This phrase appears in the film Mallrats when Brodie, played by Jason Lee, spots his love interest, Rene, played by Shannon Doherty shopping in the mall.
It also featured on the spine of Elle magazine.
In The West Wing Season 5, Episode 5, CJ Cregg makes the remark when talking about an old flame named Ben.
The phrase is used by Maggie Smith's character Daphne Castle to Peter Ustinov's character Hercule Poirot in the 1982 movie Evil Under the Sun, based on the novel by Agatha Christie, as they investigate the murder of Dianna Rigg's character Arlena Marshall.
In the 1978 Beatles parody film, All You Need Is Cash, Mick Jagger is interviewed by Eric Idle, who asks, "Why did the Rutles break up?" Mick replies, "Women. Just women getting in the way. Cherchez la femme, you know."
In the TV series La Femme Nikita (1997–2001) the theme music contains the lyrics "Cherchez la femme, cherchez la femme, dans la nuit, dans la nuit".
- Pierre L. Horn, ed., Handbook of French Popular Culture (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1991), ISBN 978-0313261213, p. 41. Excerpts available at Google Books.
- Dumas, Alexandre (1871). Les Mohicans de Paris (in French) I. Paris: Michel Lévy frères, éditeurs. p. 232. Retrieved 2009-08-07. "Cherchez la femme, pardieu ! cherchez la femme !"
- Dumas, Alexandre (1889). Théâtre complet (in French) XXIV. Paris: Michel Lévy frères, éditeurs. p. 103. Retrieved 2009-08-07. "Il y a une femme dans toutes les affaires ; aussitôt qu'on me fait un rapport, je dis : « Cherchez la femme ! »"
- Daphne Castle
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