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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 (The Sucker, 1965), Le Grand Restaurant (1967), Oscar (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 are Pouic-Pouic (1963), Les Grandes Vacances (1967) and Jo (1971).

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Tropes featured in his works:

  • Adolf Hitlarious: In Le Grand Restaurant, he does an hilarious routine while explaining a recipe to a German patron. "Muskatnuss, Herr Müller!" With some shadows "coincidentally" adding a pencil mustache and black hair just in the right spot.
  • Agony of the Feet: A favorite slapstick move of his is the foot-stomp, either as part of dirty fighting or as a "Be Quiet!" Nudge.
  • Angrish: A common gag for his characters when stressed out is to speak gibberish.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: In Germany, he is often attributed to having the catchphrase "Nein? Doch. Ohh!" ("No? Yes. Ohh!"), representing the quick jump from being confused to understanding to being shocked by an observation in the time of a few seconds. However he never says all three words himself, but it's actualy part of an exchange and it only ever appeared in the movie Jo. Nevertheless, in Germany it's often refered by a single person saying all three words and often thought to appear in many of his movies.
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  • Butt-Monkey: The jerkassery of his characters is usually tempered with them often being a target of Laser-Guided Karma.
  • Catch-Phrase:
  • Character Tics: His grimaces are famous.
  • Greed: A common trait of his characters — including, of course, 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.
    • Not to forget many of his scenes alongside Michel Galabru in the Gendarme series.
  • Height Angst: De Funès was rather short, and thus a common gag for his characters is to be annoyed by taller people.
    • Notably in Delusions of Grandeur, where Don Saluste forces his valet Blaze to kneel next to him while serving breakfast.
    • In Jo, Antoine Brisebard has a special spot on his sofa that makes him look taller than people sitting next.
  • 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.
  • Mistaken for Gay: In Le Tatoué, De Funès's character is accused by his wife to be seeing another woman (while in truth, he's spending time with Jean Gabin's character). After lots of denial, he blurts out "No, it's a man!", to the wife's shock.
  • 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 ends up being 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.
  • 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 Lefèbvre 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.
      • After his memorable scene with Jean Gabin in La Traversée de Paris (1956), they were reunited in Le Gentleman d'Epson (1962) and Le Tatoué (1968), where they're an Odd Couple for the whole movie.
  • 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.
  • The Scrooge: Every rich character he played was this. The apex were Harpagon in The Miser (of course) and Don Salluste in Delusion of Grandeur.
  • 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's small role in The Trip Across Paris, facing big-stars Bourvil and Jean Gabin, is considered to be the beginning of his rise to stardom.
  • Typecasting: De Funès starred in dozens of comedy films and always played the same kind of role, or close to it.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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