Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza
(1914-1983) was a hugely popular French comedian and actor who played in more than 150 movies. He is still very beloved and famous in the francophone world and Continental Europe in general
Louis de Funès — once he started getting successful past the age of fifty, after a lenghty career of minor and mostly ungrateful roles — always played the same character: a hyperactive, self-important, stubborn and unsympathetic little man who often threw himself into temper tantrums and made amusing facial expressions and nervous tics. (He modeled his screen persona after Donald Duck
, so go figure.)
He is probably best known for his role as Gendarmerie officer Ludovic Cruchot in Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez
(1964) about a local military police force in the South of France, which spawned six films
in total between 1964 and 1982. English-speaking audiences might recognise him as the star opposite Bourvil in the film La Grande Vadrouille
(1966, released as: Don't Look Now! We're Being Shot At
). Among his most loved films are Le Corniaud
, 1965), Le Grand Restaurant
(1967), Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob
(The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob
, 1973) and L'Aile ou la cuisse
(1975) with Coluche. Among his lesser known films is Jo
Tropes associated with this actor include:
- Greed: A common trait of his characters — including Harpagon himself in Molière's The Miser — to better mock it.
- Hollywood Heart Attack: Literally: De Funès was over 50 when he became a movie star and his often energetic performances and stunt work caused him a heart attack in 1976. From then on he had to play physically less demanding roles. He eventually died of a stroke in 1983.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In La Grande Vadrouille and The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob. And approximately half of his roles.
- Large Ham: The Patron Saint of this trope for French comedy.
- Lovable Coward: In most of his roles, despite his grandstanding, he's prompt to cower when confronted with someone outranking or physically dominating him.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: He was a nice, soft-spoken, reserved person in real life.
- The Napoleon: Small, bossy and short-tempered: about all his characters.
- Nervous Wreck: Again, most of his roles. He toned it down after his heart attack in 1974.
- Odd Couple: With Jean Gabin in Le Tatoué, Claude Giraud in The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob, and Bourvil in La Grande Vadrouille.
- Production Posse
- He frequently worked with directors such as Gérard Oury (4 movies) or Jean Girault (12 movies in total, including the six Gendarmes).
- He was also frequently paired with the same actors, even in unrelated films:
- Notably, Robert Dhéry, Michel Galabru, Paul Préboist, Jean Lefebvre and Maurice Risch as a Foil or Bumbling Sidekick.
- Most specially, Claude Gensac played his wife in seven movies, including three times in Le Gendarme series. And she still had minor roles in three others: L'Aile ou la cuisse, L'Avare and La Soupe aux choux.
- His two highest-grossing movies (Le Corniaud and La Grande Vadrouille) were with another French comedy superstar, André Raimbourg, better known as Bourvil. (They also played together in La Traversée de Paris, where De Funès had a small role.) La Folie des grandeurs (Delusion of Grandeur) was planned to be their fourth together, but it was derailed by Bourvil's death. Yves Montand took his place after his wife Simone Signoret told Gérard Oury about him, and the whole story was rewritten to match differences between Montand and Bourvil.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Many of his characters (especially Cruchot in Le Gendarme series) are prone to this with their superiors — while being odious to their underlings.
- Real-Life Relative: His son, Olivier de Funès, played in six of his father's movies. They even have a singing duet in L'Homme orchestre.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Inevitable when he is cast in a supporting role. The most blatant case has to be his role as Commissioner Juve in the Fantômas trilogy.
- Star-Making Role: De Funès' small role in La Traversée de Paris, facing big-stars Bourvil and Jean Gabin, is considered to be the beginning of his rise to stardom.
- Type Casting: De Funès starred in dozens of comedy films and always played the same role, or close.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Each time he was paired with Claude Gensac in a movie.
- Unstoppable Rage
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Many of his roles were this; he kept the sympathy of the public by the amount of catastrophes befalling on him — and sometimes also learning An Aesop by the end of the movie. The best example has to be Victor Pivert in The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob.
- What Could Have Been
- Louis de Funès was planned to take the role of Grand Vizier Iznogoud in a movie before his untimely death.
- He was supposed to play a South American dictator in The Crocodile, directed once more by Gérard Oury. Two consecutive heart attacks prevented the filming.
- He was also about to play in Papy fait de la Résistance when he died. His role went to one of his fellow comedians, Michel Galabru.