Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Louis de Funès Double Feature: Pouic-Pouic (1963) and The Big Restaurant (1966)

I enjoyed a Louis de Funès double feature recently. 

The first film was Pouic-Pouic (1963).  The plot was perfectly suited to Funès.  Léonard Monestier (Funès) gets the idea to unload his ditsy wife's bad investment in a South American oil concession on a rich and gullible acquaintance, Antoine Brévin.  He knows that Brévin is interested in his pretty daughter and figures he can use his daughter to lure Brévin to his home for the weekend.

The daughter wants no part of this plan and enlists a man delivering a car to her home to pretend to be her new husband.

The deceptions continue to pile up as the indefatigable Monestier tries to convince the doubting Brévin that the oil concession is an ideal investment.

This situation turns into a game that Monestier refuses to lose.

The second film was The Big Restaurant (1966).  This time, Funès plays Septime, the owner of a posh Paris restaurant. 


When the president of a Latin American country is kidnapped at the restaurant, Septime is desperate to protect the reputation of his restaurant and agrees to act as a police decoy in a dangerous plot to draw out the kidnappers. 


The film climaxes with a wild car chase at a ski resort.

Funès was an unusual comic actor in that he mostly played men in positions of authority.  These are men who are accustomed to being in control and are more than willing to maintain control by bullying the people around them.  Funès is no clumsy, ineffectual plebe like the typical comic hero, but instead the boss who happily browbeats clumsy, ineffectual plebes.  His films are often about a sudden crisis that destroys his sense of control and drives him into a state of emotional turmoil.  Much of the comedy in his films comes from watching the hyperactive comedian be thrust wildly back and forth between peaks of rage and panic.   Funès is delightfully expressive in his explosive outbursts, which was the reason he was nicknamed "the man with the forty faces per minute."

James Travers of Films de France wrote, "Far from being a simple caricature, de Funès' portrayal of such odious characters is intensely complex and well-developed. . . De Funès was as much a first rate character actor as he was a natural born comedian, and this is what brings the essential quality of truth to his performances."  

I recently wrote about another Funès film, La Grande Vadrouille (1966).  You can click here for that article.

Here are images from a few other film starring the actor.

Le Gendarme de St. Tropez (1964) (English title: The Troops of St. Tropez)

Les grandes vacances (1967) (English title: The Exchange Student)


La folie des grandeurs (1971) (English title: Delusions of Grandeur)

Sur un arbre perché (1971) (English title: Perched on a Tree)

Reference source

James Travers, "Pouic-Pouic (1963)," Films de France (2007) http://www.filmsdefrance.com/review/pouic-pouic-1963.html.

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