Le Petit baigneur (1968)
aka: The Little Bather
A film directed by Robert Dhéry

Genre: Comedy


Le Petit baigneur photo
The inventor André Castagnier, and his sister, Charlotte, win the coveted first prize of the San Remo regatta, thanks to Castagnier's revolutionary new dinghy. A short while later, Castagnier disgraces himself when another boat he worked on is damaged on its maiden launch. His employer, the irascible Louis-Philippe Fourchaume, dismisses him, but quickly realises his error. When an Italian entrepreneur, Marcello Cacciaperotti, offers a lucrative contract to manufacture Castagnier's new dinghy, Fourchaume has no option but to find Castagnier and beg him to return to him...
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Film Review

By the mid to late 1960s, Louis de Funès had well and truly established as France's top comic film actor. Le Petit baigneur is a relative minor entry in his filmography but it continued a remarkable series of box office successes which began with Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez and a groovy Fantômas re-make.

Le Petit baigneur was directed by Robert Dhéry, who collaborated with De Funès on a number of other films. He is perhaps best known as the director of the popular comedy troupe, Les Branquignols, who leapt to fame in the late 1940s. Dhéry (who also stars in the film as the red-headed inventor Castagnier) was a fan of the comedy classics of the silent era (notably those featuring the comic genius Buster Keaton), and Le Petit baigneur can be regarded as a shameless homage to such films.

With a virtually non-existent plot and characters that appear to have been wrenched from the pages of a comic book, Le Petit baigneur's charm lies entirely in its relentless series of visual jokes - some of which are hilariously funny. De Funès is very nearly at his best, his style of comedy perfectly suited to this kind of film. He manages to outshine all of his fellow actors, who generally fail to make much of the film's comic potential - except for the spirited contributions from Colette Brosset and Michel Galabru.
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If you like Le Petit baigneur you may also like: Comme un cheveu sur la soupe (1957), Tout le monde il est beau, tout le monde il est gentil (1972), Que les gros salaires lèvent le doigt! (1982) and One, Two, Three (1961).
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