The new Arnold Schwarzenegger action comedy has a French pedigree

By Beth Pinsker
July 22, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Terrorists threaten the U.S. with nuclear missiles — and secret agent Harry Tasker has to disarm them while saving his marriage. Sounds like a blockbuster plot that only Hollywood could devise. Not quite: As a close reading of the credits reveals, True Lies is actually based on La Totale!, a 1991 French action farce. Here, the whole truth about the origins of True Lies.

La Totale!: Mild-mannered telecommunications functionary Francois is really a government agent
True Lies: Mild-mannered computer sales representative Harry is really a government agent

La Totale!: Wife Helen is mousy library worker who dreams of a more exciting life
True Lies: Wife Helen is mousy legal secretary who dreams of a more exciting life

La Totale!: Francois has dopey, fat partner with bad hair whom he regularly threatens and knocks around
True Lies: Harry has dopey, fat partner with bad hair whom he occasionally threatens and knocks around

La Totale!: Simon, a used-car salesman, poses as spy to get women (but may well be a terrorist)
True Lies: Simon, a used-car salesman, poses as spy to get women

La Totale!: Francois — pasty, skinny French guy — spends 10 seconds of the movie without his clothes on
True Lies: Harry — sculpted specimen of male anatomy — remains clothed for entire movie

La Totale!: To appear sexy, Helen removes headband and tucks in collar
True Lies: To appear sexy, Helen slicks back hair and dances in her lingerie

La Totale!: Francois’ superagent prowess: disables two terrorists by dropping one on top of another
True Lies: Harry’s superagent prowess: throws knife into terrorist’s eye

La Totale!: Hostages flown to what they think is Arab country — really a Paris market
True Lies: Hostages drugged, wake up on tropical island — really Florida Keys

La Totale!: Ten people apparently killed
True Lies: More than 100 people apparently killed

La Totale!: Francois escapes bad guys using the dinner they give him, one gun, a forklift, and a couple of sacks of flour
True Lies: Harry escapes bad guys using helicopters, grenades, machine guns, hand-to-hand combat, and Harrier jets

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