Le Majordome (1965)

aka: The Majordomo
Comedy / Crime / Thriller


Synopsis

Le Majordome photo
Léopold is a valet who, after many years of devoted service to a distinguished lawyer, has acquired a thorough appreciation of the French legal code. It is something that he puts to good use in his spare time, when he associates with Paris's criminal fraternity. To impress the woman he loves, Agnès des Vallières, he agrees to lend his support to a heist prepared by Dr Ventoux, alias The Cat, who, unbeknown to Léopold, is engaged to Agnès. When he realises that Ventoux intends to look after his own self-interest, Léopold decides to sabotage the operation...
© filmsdefrance.com 2012


Film Review

Film poster
Producer and filmmaker Jean Delannoy is synonymous with the quality tradition of French cinema. His most significant films - L'Éternel retour, La Symphonie pastorale (winner of the 1946 Palme d'Or) and Les Jeux sont faits - were made in the 1940s and all have stood the test of time. The 1950s was a prolific decade for Delannoy and included such diverse and successful films as La Minute de vérité, Chiens perdus sans collier, Marie Antoinette, reine de france, Notre Dame de Paris, Maigret tend un piège and Les Amitiés particulières.

By the 1960s times had changed and the best of Delannoy's career was behind him. March 1965 saw the release of his uneven crime comedy Le Majordome, a film about a butler involved in a robbery. As a publicity stunt, the original poster carried the slogan: 'The funniest robbery of the century'. However, the lightweight storyline is really just an excuse to show off the imagination and extravagant behaviour of its main character, played by Paul Meurisse in a part that closely resembles his character from Georges Lautner's Monocle films (Le Monocle noir, etc.).
 
If the concept overall lacks subtlety, this is more than compensated for by Henri Jeanson's crisp and witty dialogue. The result is far from being a masterpiece but it achieves its ultimate objective of entertaining its audience. Meurisse is ably supported by the delightful and distinguished actress Geneviève Page, whose role is to provide the love/hate relationship with the film's hero. Page's breakthrough was in the 1956 production of Jules Verne's Michel Strogoff with German actor Curd Jurgens. She has played both French and English speaking roles and has appeared in films with stars such as Jean Marais, Michel Simon, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Gérard Philipe. She starred alongside Charlton Heston in the epic El Cid and had notable roles in Luis Buñuel's Belle de jour, René Clément's Le Jour et l'heure, Terence Young's Mayerling and Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.

As the film was a Franco-German production, Jean Delannoy was obliged to accept the German actor Paul Hubschmid as the bad guy. Hubschmid starred with Michèle Morgan in Dis-moi qui tuer and teamed up with Dany Saval in Moi et les hommes de quarante ans. We should not forget the incredible supporting cast, which includes Noël Roquevert (a stalwart of French cinema since the 1940s) and a cameo appearance by the French comedy legend Bourvil, who will later play Paul Meurisse's partner in crime in Alex Joffé's La Grosse caisse (1965). After Le Majordome, Delannoy went on to direct another eight films, before retiring in 1995 with Marie de Nazareth (1995).
© Willems Henri (Brussels, Belgium) 2012
The above article was written for filmsdefrance.com and should not be reproduced in any medium without the author's permission.



Trivia

The director Jean Delannoy also worked with the actor Paul Meurisse on the film Guinguette (1959).


Film Credits



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