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Film / The Little Bather

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My Louis Lies over the Ocean

"Is this a joke???"
Louis-Philippe Fourchaume (when he learns the Little Bather is a revolutionary sailing ship and he has just fired his inventor...)
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The Little Bather (Le Petit Baigneur) is a 1968 French comedy film starring Louis de Funès.

André Castagnier wins a sailing race in San Remo with a boat that he designed, The Little Bather. He comes back to France, where his boss, Louis-Philippe Fourchaume (De Funès) fires him, because the hull of another boat designed by him broke during her naming ceremony. Mr. Fourchaume then hears that The Little Bather has received an award and that many customers want to buy her. So, he decides to hire André Castagnier back and he goes to André's native village, where he meets André's brothers Henri and Jean-Baptiste, his sister Charlotte and his brother-in-law Scipion (Michel Galabru).


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The Little Bather provides examples of:

  • Agony of the Feet:
    • Mr. Fourchaume hits André Castagnier's foot with a shovel when he fires him.
    • A few minutes later, André Castagnier clears his desk and he drops compases on Mr. Fourchaume's foot.
    • Mr. Fourchaume drives on Scipion's feet after the mass.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In San Remo, some characters speak Italian and their lines are not translated.
  • Born Under the Sail: The movie is set at Toulon, famous for its naval constructions, fishing and other aeronautical manufacturing.
  • Bungling Inventor: André Castagnier. L'Increvable has serious design problems. His new kayak model is ridiculous. Only The Little Bather seems to be a flawless creation.
  • Butt-Monkey: Scipion. Mr. Fourchaume drives on his feet. Then the toilet cabin where he is is pushed on a boat and drifts on the river.
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  • Chase Scene: Played With. The final chase involve a houseboat, two paddle boat (one normal and the other powered by a bicycle) and a small "barque", so it's still present in spirit.
  • Cool Car:
    • Mr. Fourchaume drives a Jaguar E-Type.
    • Marcello Cacciaperotti drives a Fiat Dino Spider.
  • Closet Shuffle: When he is chased by Mr. Fourchaume, André Castagnier hides inside a closet.
  • Desk Sweep of Rage: Mr. Fourchaume does it twice when he fires André Castagnier. First with the desk of an innocent colleague, then with the desk of Castagnier.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: The minister thinks that the hull of L'Increvable broke during the naming ceremony because his wife does not know her own strength and threw the champagne bottle too violently.
    Minister: I'm taking away your barbells, Honey.
  • Dramatic Irony: Mr. Fourchaume fires André Castagnier. Unlike the viewer, he does not know that a boat designed by André has received an award and that everybody wants to buy her. For extra irony, he tears up the contract about this specific boat.
  • Firing Day: Mr. Fourchaume fires André Castagnier in the beginning, then he realizes that it was a mistake and he tries to hire him again.
  • Here We Go Again!: In the beginning, Mr. Fourchaume fires André Castagnier because the hull of a boat designed by him broke during her naming ceremony. In the end, there is another naming ceremony for the same boat and she sinks just after her launch, so Mr. Fourchaume is again angry at André.
  • Hurt Foot Hop: Mr. Fourchaume hits André Castagnier's foot with a shovel when he fires him. André reacts this way.
  • Last Request: Subverted. On his deathbed, Mr. Fourchaume asks André Castagnier to work with his company to manufacture The Little Bather. Actually, Mr. Fourchaume is not dying: he just plays a role to deceive Castagnier.
  • Latin Lover: Marcello Cacciaperotti, the Italian businessman, chases women in the streets. He is also very interested in Mr. Fourchaume's wife.
  • Manipulative Bastard: A skill that helps Fourchaume hiring André and his family at the end. He mostly tries to get on the Castagnier's good side, but it's obvious to the viewers and Scipion that it's not genuine.
  • Mean Boss: Probably the most physically violent manager De Funès has ever played: Louis-Phillipe Fourchaume is chasing Castagnier with a shovel because his last creation was a complete disaster.
    Fourchaume: [with a crazed look on his face and armed with a shovel] And now you will get the hell out of here... slowly... kindly...
  • Mr. Exposition: Basically gives us the whole plot when talking to his wife:
    Fourchaume: I have done the mistake of my life... [...] The Little Bather has being certified! [...] I fired him and chased him [André] with a shovel, I ripped off his contract and threw it to his face! [...] He doesn't know his boat was certified and won the "Oscar de la voile"! He will known it Monday so we need to act tomorrow! [Sunday]
  • Oh, Crap!: A pretty good one after Fourchaume fires Castagnier, sweep off his desk, rips off his contract and starts to destroy a Little Bather... and then learns that this same boat has won a nautical race and will be certified.
    Fourchaume: Is this a joke?
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Mr. Fourchaume, who does not understand the potential of The Little Bather and fires her designer.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Downplayed as Fourchaume is closer to a Jerkass rather than a villain. He is giving funds to the vicar for repairing the church and stay at the Castagnier's house in order to get in their good graces so he can hire André Again.
  • Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony:
    • At the beginning, the launch of a ship (L'Increvable, i.e. The Unbreakable) goes sour when the champagne bottle, instead of breaking against the hull, breaks through it because of shoddy construction.
    • At the end of the movie, the ceremony is held again with the repaired ship, and the bottle breaks normally. The ship just sinks as soon as launched, however.
  • Shared Unusual Trait: The Castagniers all sport a very noticeable shade of red hair.
  • Shovel Strike: Mr. Fourchaume uses a shovel to chase André Castagnier out of the shipyard.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Rule of Three. Fourchaume does it the first time after failing to turn in André's kayak, the second time after jumping on a pond that is supposed to be very shallow and the last time after the final Chase Scene.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Louis-Philippe Fourchaume (Louis de Funès) and his wife Marie-Béatrice (Andréa Parisy).
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Mr. Fourchaume, the protagonist, is quick-tempered and violent with his employees.

Alternative Title(s): Le Petit Baigneur

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