Louis De Funes


  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 Vague 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! Boosted from his usual supporting character status to star (as once happened to De Funes), poor Sim looked  even older (and  far too nice for a villain) opposite Michel Serrault as a duo in the Laurel and Hardy tradition, said Mocky.  Not. At. All. 
  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.    Jacques Villeret, Papy fait de la resistance, France, 1983.  The legend always was that the #1 French clown was to be the grandfather and indeed the WWII stage comedy  is dedicated to him.  However, Fufu was actually asked to be the Nazi Maréchal Ludwig Von Apfelstrudel – turned by Villeret into a kind of Benito Hitlerlinni. Galabru  (who made all six Gendarme farces with De Funes) 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?

  11. Christian Clavier, Astérix & Obelix contre Caesar, France-Germany-Italy, 1998.   The frst live-action version of the French comic-book heroes created by Rene Gosciny and Albert Uderzo.   But TVeteran Pierre Tchernia first had the idea in the 60s – wanting, obviously, the nation’s #1 comic, Louis De Funes, as the spunky little Gaul and, surprisingly, Lino Ventura (not yet seen in a comedy) as the mighty Obelix. Tcherina was often caricatured  in the comics, narrated many of the toon versions (he wrote four), Months  before his 2016 death, he played  the centurion (and narrator) Caius Gaspachoandalus in the second live-actioner,  Astérix & Obélix: Mission Cléopâtre, 2002, far better than Claude Zidi’s heavy-handed ’98 take. Astérix changed actors twice during the first live quartet but up until 2020, no one dared replace Depardieu as Obelix.
  12. Michaël Youen, Iznogoud (Iznogoud – Caliph Instead of the Caliph), France, 2004.   The Grand Vizir of the Caliph of old Baghdad was co-created in French comicbooks by René Goscinny (of Asterix fame). He also co-wrote the first movie script with auteur Pierre Tcherina in 1972 – “no deal – just for fun” – aimed at top French screen comic Louis de Funès, Vittorio Gassman, Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers. (The 2004 version aimed much lower).  This is the second time that De Funès was up for the same role as the far more glorious Sellers – after Gérard Oury’s Crocodile. The satire on dictators (and their wives) was never made as, first De Funès, then Sellers, suffered major hear-attacks. Third time lucky? Never, sajd scenarist Danièle Thompson, fearing that Oury, her father, might prove a third cardiac victim.  







 Birth year: 1914Death year: 1983Other name: Casting Calls:  12