Creator / Louis de Funès
Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza (31 July 1914 – 27 January 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
Once he started getting successful past the age of fifty — after a lengthy career of minor and mostly ungrateful roles —, De Funès 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 said he modeled his screen persona after Donald Duck
, so go figure). Sure, it was typecasting
, but audiences never failed to show up and ask for more.
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
(The Wing or the Thigh
, 1976) with Coluche. Among his lesser-known films is Jo
Tropes featured in his works:
- Greed: A common trait of his characters — including Harpagon himself in Molière's The Miser — to better mock it.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat:
- In a mythic scene for French cinema, the dispute between de Funès's character Jambier and Grandgil (Jean Gabin) in La Traversée de Paris. The script required for Gabin's character to be as loud as possible; Gabin was a living legend and de Funès was not the King of French Large Ham yet. Nevertheless (and despite being visibly intimidated), de Funès held his own, and was noticed by a lot of people. Bonus point for the argument involving literal ham.
- De Funés and Gabin were reunited in the movie Le Tatoué, and most of their interactions there are Ham-to-Ham Combat.
- In-Series Nickname: His character (in Le Gendarme series and other movies) always nicknames his wife "Ma biche" (literally: "My doe", another word for "Honey").
- Jerkass: Most of his characters are pretty obnoxious individuals.
- 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 Boss: Any of his characters in a position of power.
- Milking the Giant Cow: His characters chew the scenery with moves too.
- 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 1975.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: About any time his characters are disguised in a movie, it's this trope. There's just no way his highly recognizable face, not to mention his Character Tics, could go unnoticed (especially when in drag), and yet other people are fooled. Rule of Funny in application, of course.
- The Perfectionist: Humor was, paradoxically, quite the Serious Business for Louis. He couldn't stand that the timing for his gags was anything but perfect. It was in fact well-known, when he felt a shot was sub-par but about to be accepted by the director, that he would deliberately ruin it to force a re-shoot, to try again and give his best.
- 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.
- Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Another part of his comedic routine, he often used it to hilarious effect.
- 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.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Each time he was paired with Claude Gensac in a movie.
- 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.