It's surprising how few mainstream French comedies from the 60s and 70s
have stood the test of time, despite the incredible abundance of talent
on both sides of the camera. Even box office hits such as the Gendarme
films which helped to
make Louis de Funès a comic icon are now derided, easily
dismissed as silly and unsophisticated. From the most cursory
glance at its cast list, you might have expected Nous irons à Deauville
an out-and-out classic. How could a film that boasts the combined
comedic talents of Louis de Funès, Michel Serrault, Claude
Brasseur, Jean Carmet and Michel Galabru fail to hit the spot?
Yet hit the spot it does, with an almost ruthless determination.
It's not as if Francis Rigaud was a totally hopeless director. He
had shown a degree of flair with his previous comedies, Les Baratineurs
(1965) and Les
(1964), films which had made good use of two of
the decade's most popular comic actors, Francis Blanche and Darry
Cowl. With Nous irons à
Rigaud is saddled with a third rate script that not
only has no cohesion - it's basically just a series of sketches lazily
flung together - it just isn't funny. The only scenes that get a
laugh are those involving Louis de Funès, but then he's the kind
who would cause an outbreak of hysterics at a wake. Despite the
paucity of decent scripted gags, de Funès still manages to be
consistently hilarious whenever he is in shot - he even gets laughs just by
making a sand castle. Remove every scene not involving
this comedy giant (including a pointless musical interlude with Sacha Distel)
and you'll end up with a ten minute short that
will make you laugh yourself into your grave. The rest of the
film is more likely to put you into a deep coma.
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