In the first half a dozen or so films he appeared in, the singer-comedian Bourvil was very
much tied to the 'country bumpkin' character he had created for
his cabaret act. His likeable persona was enough to sell such
mediocre films as
Pas si bête (1947)
Par la fenêtre (1948)
Le Coeur sur la main (1949)
but Jean Boyer allowed Bourvil to develop his range and effectively
begin his acting career proper in the popular comedy
. Under Boyer's guidance, and helped by
a script that for once looks as if some thought has gone into it,
Bourvil finally has a chance to show what a great screen comedian he is,
and he is rarely funnier than he is here.
The role of Léon is an extension of the character that Bourvil
had previously created for himself, an amiable goon who gets himself
into all manner of scrapes but always manages to win through via his innate, child-like goodness.
Playing opposite Bourvil is the talented English actress Joan Greenwood, whose
deep, seductive voice somehow always manages to remind you of crushed velvet.
The two actors play off each other superbly and have a natural
and genuinely touching rapport.
The film moves along at quite a pace, ceaselessly entertaining. This is down partly
to the quality of the comic performances, but also the excellent script by Michel Audiard plays
a major part in this. With a screen-writing career that spans nearly thirty years,
Audiard is recognised as one of the great writing talents of French cinema.
benefits from Audiard's wit and unerring knack of coming
up with the bon mot.
The film's special effects are also impressive for a film of this era. Not only
are the scenes where Bourvil passes through a solid wall hilarious, they are
also surprisingly convincing. Although the film was released in black and white,
a colour version of the film also exists.
The above article was written for filmsdefrance.com and should not be reproduced in any medium without the author's permission.