1. Bernard Blier, …Sans laisser d’adresse, France, 1950.    Originally planned for Bourvil, the ex-baker from the small Normandy village of Bourville – until Blier took over the driver’s seat of a taxi packed with names, old and new. Danièle Delorme, Pierre Mondy, France Roche, Julien Carette, Georgette Anys, Louis de Funès,Juliette Gréco, Gérard Oury, Simone Signoret… Dan Dailey took Blier’s role in the 1953 Hollywood re-make, Taxi.
  2. Louis de Funès,  Fantomas,  France-Italy, 1964.   Following the success of Le Capitan, André Hunebelle, an old school realisateur surviving the slings and arrows of the New Wave, wanted to keep Jean Marais and Bourvil for this version of the super-crook.  Bourvil later regretted passing on Commisaire Juve – so did Marais, who couldn’t stand the scene-stealing tactics of the stutter, splutter, mutter, nutter comic de Funès. “The sole actor I never liked as a human being,” said Marais. “Working with de Funès, made me the highest paid extra in French films.” Marais fled from  a fourth chapter, Fantomas en Russie, in 1968 and  swiftly  diversified, for safety, into secret agent Stanislas and… The Saint.
  3. Heinz Rühmann, La bourse et la vie (US: Your Money Or Your Life), France, 1966.    Three years earlier, Fernandel refused to have anything to do with the New Wave. Now, the battle of Jean-Pierre Mocky (a new waver before la nouevlle vauge) was to find anyone with guts enough to co-star with the notorious scene stealer. De Funes was unavailable (or scared), Bourvil (who subbed Fernandel in Mocky’s previous script) refused, Robert Lamoureux dithered. German money in the budget led to a comeback for Rühmann… and a German hit for a French flop.
  4. Pierre Perret, Les Patates, France, 1969.    Bourvil was ill and needed money for his family and his own medical bills, so he accepted an US offer instead. The Christmas Tree, with William Holden. “When I showed him my film,” said veteran realisateur Claude Autant-Lara, “he really regretted not having made it.”
  5. Yves Montand, La Folie des Grandeurs, 1971    . The French nation was shocked by the death of the much loved Bourvil.  His box-office champion co-star, Louis de Funès, was devastated.  At the funeral, their realisateur Gérard Oury said: “There’s not an actor in France who could take his role,” “Oh, yes,” said Simone Signoret. “Him!”  Pointing to her lover, Yves Montand. She was right. As she was about so many things.  (Of course, he refused any shooting in Spain until Franco pardoned five political prisoners on Death Row). Oury wanted to use his new team  in a New Orleans adventure,  “Fufu” as a pianist and “Ivo”  as a  – no? yes! – singer.  Too expensive!
  6. Philippe Noiret, L’Horloger de Saint-Paul, France, 1973.    The first of five films Noiret made for Lyons realisateur Bertrand Tavavernier was first aimed at Bourvil… before his death.
  7. Jacques Dufilho, Ce cher Victor, France, 1974.   After failing to get anywhere with Samuel Beckettabout Molloy for Dufilho, debutante director Robin Davisand a school chum devised a fine little film about human cruelty for Jacques – and Bernard Blier. Distributors preferred a third De Funès-Bourvil tandem to follow their box-office champs: Le Corniaud and La Grande Vadrouille. Davis got his way when De Funès gently withdrew. And Bourvil? “He accepted, but he died.”
  8. Philippe Noiret, L’Horloger de Saint-Paul, France, 1974.    Early inhisprepping, new director Bertrand Tavernier considered Bernard Blier as Georges Simenon’s watch-maker and Dufilho as Commissaire Guilboud.



 Birth year: 1917Death year: 1970Other name: André RaimbourgCasting Calls:  8