To be forty years later, still capable of seducing different audiences on the sole strength of the comic spring, this is the real strength of Louis de Funès, an inimitable actor who had known how to keep his child’s soul. Before becoming the star that we know, this man-orchestra of zygomatics, had however remained very long confined to supporting roles before exploding in broad daylight at the turn of the 60s.
Theme from Fantomas, soundtrack Fantomas against Scotland Yard. Music by Michel Magne
Long subscribed to roles of stooges, then supporting roles – he had already shot nearly a hundred films (!) before Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez, by Jean Girault and Fantomas, by André Hunebelle – Louis de Funès exploded in 1964. Two recurring roles, that of chief quartermaster Ludovic Cruchot and superintendent Juve, ensured the actor immense notoriety. There will be three Fantômas in particular, the last of which in 1967, Fantômas contre Scotland Yard, whose musical score is signed, like the two previous ones, Michel Magne.
Antoine and Ursula, BO Le Corniaud. Music by Georges Delerue
Georges Delerue composed the music for two films starring Louis de Funès: Hibernatus in 1969 and Le Corniaud in 1965. unwittingly Bourvil, a small Parisian employee wishing to visit Italy for his holidays. A very cumbersome passenger remotely guided by Léopold Saroyan, a gangster played by Louis de Funès who stuffed the rental Cadillac with illegal products that he gave to him after a memorable accident. A real rolling treasure that will give rise to the most comical situations. So much for the summary of Corniaud which totaled, excuse the little, the exceptional score of 11.5 million viewers when it was released in theaters.
“I was pushed in spite of myself towards stardom.”
Rib steak story, soundtrack Le Gendarme in New York. Music by Raymond Lefevre
In this year 1965, Louis de Funès is at the peak of his art and resumes the costume of the chief sergeant Ludovic Cruchot, the role cut to his measure by Jean Girault, for a second opus which takes him this time to America. The piece Entrecôte Story by Raymond Lefevre is a nod to the famous musical West Side Story, by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. Here is the brigade in the United States to represent France at an international congress of the gendarmerie. Confused by American gigantism as well as by very different culinary customs, the little troop sets out to follow in the footsteps of a good, very French rib steak. But it’s not easy in the land of Coca Cola and hamburgers to find a nice piece of Charolais… The expedition takes on the appearance of a treasure hunt for Louis de Funès who has the precious packet stolen by a thug. He then decides to follow him and then arrest him in a disreputable neighborhood with the panache that suits him.
Think of the two of us, BO La Grande Vadrouille. Music by Georges Auric
We never tire of watching La Grande Vadrouille, a jewel of humor and longtime French record holder for the number of cinema admissions. Bourvil, Louis de Funès, Gérard Oury on the production, Georges and André Tabet on the dialogues, and the music by Georges Auric. As many madeleines of Proust for many of us about which we have already said everything or almost. For the record, Louis de Funès interprets under the Occupation a cantankerous conductor who will find himself, in spite of himself, a fugitive after helping an English airman whose parachute got caught on the roof of the Paris Opera.
“As of the fifties, I say it as I think it, one is nothing any more but one old pooch.”
Piti piti pas, soundtrack The Man Orchestra. Music by Francois de Roubaix
It was François de Roubaix, a composer with limitless inventiveness, a musician ahead of his time and a genius hacker, who died too soon, who in 1970 wrote the score that has become legendary for L’Homme orchester. A kitsch and pop fantasy according to current criteria, devilishly effective and which constitutes the cornerstone of Serge Korber’s film, The Man Orchestra. A comedy where Louis de Funès gives, as always, of his person as a tyrannical choreographer of a dance school. The anthology scenes multiply. Louis de Funès gesticulates and dances.
Generic, soundtrack La Folie des Grandeur. Music by Michel Polnareff
The credits are oh so famous. In 1971, for La Folie des grandeurs, directed by Gérard Oury, the soundtrack was entrusted to a certain Michel Polnareff, who obviously had a lot of fun composing the opening credits of the film, totally out of step with the supposed to take place in 17th century Spain. Breathless strings and galloping tempo, the author of Letter to France favors great flights and parody, in passing, the atmospheres of spaghetti westerns in vogue at the start of the 1970s. A very prosperous decade, too, for Louis de Funès in this free adaptation of Ruy Blas, by Victor Hugo, where the actor, who plays the very greedy Don Sallust, has a great time facing his valet played by Yves Montand who replaced Bourvil, originally approached but disappeared , a few months earlier. With 5.5 million admissions, the film will be a colossal success in theaters.
The Great Rabbi, Soundtrack The Adventures of Rabbi Jacob. Music by Vladimir Cosma
Louis de Funès reunited with Gérard Oury in 1973 for a film with a disheveled score that was to become a landmark. No need to present The Adventures of Rabbi Jacob, which was a triumph in theaters in the first half of the 1970s. It was also the fourth collaboration between Louis de Funès and Gérard Oury, and also the last. Three years before The Wing or the Thigh, by Claude Zidi, Vladimir Cosma calls on his Slavic origins and composes for the occasion a score bathed in Ashkenazi folklore and klezmer music from which emerges the thundering title of the Grand Rabbi, a piece of bravery associated with the unforgettable scene of the Hasidic dance in the natural setting of the rue des Rosiers in the Jewish quarter of the Marais in Paris.