Comme un cheveu sur la soupe (1957)

aka: Crazy in the Noodle


Comme un cheveu sur la soupe photo
Rejected by his beloved Wanda, depressed at his failure to find success as a songwriter, Pierre Cousin decides to commit suicide. His attempt to drown himself ends in him saving Caroline Clement, a young singer who had the same idea. Never one to admit defeat, Pierre begins looking for a professional killer to murder him and finally finds someone willing to do the job for a modest fee. Just when Pierre is resigned to dying he becomes an overnight success. The publicity caused by his life-saving escapade has resulted in his songs selling like hotcakes. For the first time in his life Pierre knows what it is like to be popular and wealthy. Then he remembers that he has hired a man to kill him...
© 2014

Film Review

Film poster
Louis de Funès had appeared in over ninety films before he was finally given top billing for the first time in this modest little comedy, the film that won him his first award, the Grand Prix du rire, in 1957. At the time, de Funès was far from being a star but he was a familiar face to cinema audiences as directors made good use of his comedic talents in small but noticeable roles. It was his appearance in Claude Autant-Lara's La Traversée de Paris (1956) which led director Maurice Régamey  to give him the lead in Comme un cheveu sur la soupe, the actor's first big break and a significant milestone in his journey to national stardom. Ten years later, de Funès starred in La Grande vadrouille (1966), one of the most successful French films ever made, and by this time he was the most popular actor in France.

Comme un cheveu sur la soupe looks as if it was written with Louis de Funès in mind for the lead role of a suicidal song writer. It may not have been, but it is hard to imagine any other French actor who could give as much entertainment value in the part and still deliver a convincing character portrayal. More sympathetic than his subsequent mean-spirited fuddy-duddy creations, this early de Funès has more than a touch of Chaplin about him, and the similarity between the actor and his character (a musician who discovers fame late in his career, just when he has all but given up) is more than a little ironic.

With Louis de Funès monopolising our attention right from the very first scene it is too easy to overlook the supporting cast who have the thankless job of providing the comic lead with a constant stream of feeds. The characters are all comic book types but they do all that is required of them, helping to sustain the de Funès comedy momentum. The only other member of the cast to come into her own is Noëlle Adam, stunning in her first screen role as the singer who momentarily steals the limelight with her musical renditions. Adam, the future Mrs Serge Reggiani, would subsequently appear with Louis de Funès in Ni vu, ni connu (1958) and L'Homme orchestre (1970).

Without Louis de Funès's star presence and his unwavering genius for visual humour Comme un cheveu sur la soupe would have been a pretty grim lowbrow comedy. The ramshackle plot looks as if it may have been ripped from an early American talkie and it all ends in a predictable mess. But with de Funès on board, the film is guaranteed to be a riot of fun right from the start. Which other actor could extract so many belly laughs from a run of botched suicide attempts?  Not only was de Funès a superlative comic actor, he was also a talented pianist, and this is one of the few films in which his musical talents are put to good use. After this comedic tour de force, there would be no stopping Fufu.
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