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Louis De Funes (1914-1983)

 

  1. Nöel Roquevert, L’Impossible Monsieur Pipelet, France, 1955.     After 84 films in a decade (15 in 1950!) of playing anything he  could talk his  way into - or his agent (who had no phone!) - things finally began looking up for “Fufu” in the mid-50s… Beginning with substituting  his fully booked pal, Pierre Mondy, in the latest Jean Anouilh play - and replacing “Nono” in André Hunebelle’s film with Michel Simon. Ten films later, it was La Traversée de Paris. And he’d arrived! In great company (Bourvil and Jean Gabin). From hereon, Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza was  no longer “serving the soup” to stars. He was above the title…
  2. Francis Blanche, Un drole de paroissien (UK: Heaven Sent),France, 1962.     Jean-Pierre Mocky (a New Wave auteur before La Nouvelle Vcugue began) would have  teamed up Bourvil and de Funès two years before their first big hit, Le corniaud (The Sucker)... except Blanche was cheaper!
  3. Bourvil, La cuisine et la beurre, France, 1963.     It was while reunited with Jean Gabin for Le Gentleman d’Epsom, in 1962, that realisateur Gilles Grangier talked to de Funès about joining Fernandel in a  comedy of  two chefs, one from Marseilles, the other from Normandy.  Perfect! However,  producteur Robert Dorffmann was among the many who did not appreciate the stutter, splutter, mutter, nutter comic who ate scenery as if it were ratatouille. “Certainly not him!  Call Bourvil.” Six years later,  “Fufu” was the second highest paid actor in France at 3.5m Francs per film  to Jean-Paul Belmondo’s 5m.  Alain Delon was third at 3m.
  4. Jean Poiret, La bourse et la vie (US: Your Money or Your Life), France-Italy-West Germany, 1965.     Turbulent realisateur Jean-Pierre Mocky wanted to work with  de Funès (several times) and vice-versa;  he actually quizzed his friend, Bourvil, about the one-man nouvelle vague (70 films during 1969-2014). It came thisclsoe, then Mocky, being Mocky - preferred Poiret. The well-named mocker was doubtless alarmed at the amount of control de Funès was beginning to exercise on his outings.  
  5. Yves Robert, Le Cinéma de Papa, France, 1970.     “Too dramatic for my fans,” said the vibrionnant comic... For his fourth feature, Claude Berri (actor-turned-director and one of the most successful French producers) had a simple idea: “A son aims to be an actor, but it’s his father who becomes a star.” He  had wanted his father to play himself. On his death, Berri searched everywhere - de Funès., Serge Reggiani, Michel Serrault, even Peter Ustinov.  (Berri’s mother, Betty Langmann, played his mother in his film, Le Mâle du siècle, 1974; his sister, Arlette, was an editor and scenarist mainly alongside  Berri and  her lover, realisateur Maurice Pialat).
  6. Henri Tisot, Le Führer en folie, France-Italy-West Germany,  1973.    This was the fourth and last time that the  comedy auteur Philippe Clair lost “Fufu” for a film. Anyone out there know the other three?
  7. Bernard Blier, Ce cher Victor, France, 1974.    Blier and de Funès were  (stupidly) known as the French Laurel and Hardy (so were the even less funny Francis Blanche and Darry Cowl). Knowing  him as George Lautner’s assistant,  Blier promised to star in Robin Davis’ directing debut without reading any script. When he had one,  Davis suggested  matching  Blier and Jacques Dufilho. Distributors then played rough, insisting on 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... died.
  8. Sim, Le roi des brocoleurs, 1976.      Mocky tries again. The same alarm bells rang.  Not that de Funès valued the scenario enough to wish to control it!  “Fufu” was not fou (mad).  Film flopped. Of course !~ Sim looked  even older... and  far too nice for a villain.
  9. Pierre Mondy,  Le braconnier de Dieu, France,  1982.  Passed - in 1973. Actor Jean-Pierre Darras co-wrote and directed the adaptation of René Fallet’s novel. It did not delight  de Funès.
  10. Michel Galabru, Papy fait de la résistance, France, 1983.      The old comic was booked for Papy but died before shooting began. The film was dedicated to him and Galabru  (who made all six Gendarme farces with him) took on the role to salute his memory.  This was the fourth and last time that the  comedy auteur Philippe Clair lost “Fufu”  for a film. Anyone out there know the other three?

 

 

 

 

 

 





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