For those looking to dive into French humor, there's no better starting point than the movies of Louis De Funès. Often referred to as the French Charlie Chaplin or the French Jerry Lewis, Louis De Funes, born Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza, was a prolific actor-comedian who rose to fame in the 60s and 70s, dominating the box office with his unique blend of physical comedy and over-the-top facial expressions, à la Jim Carrey.
Don't miss a special Louis de Funès tribute playing through January on TV5MONDE Cinema On Demand with these films: La Folie des Grandeurs (1971), L'Homme Orchestre (1970), Hibernatus (1969), Le P'tit Baigneur (1968), Oscar (1967), Pouic-Pouic (1963), Les Grandes Vacances (1967), Le Grand Restaurant (1966), and La Zizanie (1978).
With over 100 films to his name, it can be hard to know where to start. Lucky for you, TV5MONDE has compiled for you a list of De Funès' top 15 movies. Most of them will be available to stream starting in November on the platform TV5MONDE Cinema On Demand. Click here to know more and to subscribe to TV5MONDE USA.
Directed by Gérard Oury, "La Grande Vadrouille" (The Great Stroll) is one of the most popular French comedies of all time. Set during World War II, it follows two Frenchmen (played by Bourvil and De Funès) as they help British airmen escape Nazi-occupied Paris. With over 17 million tickets sold, it was the highest-grossing film in French history until "Titanic" came along.
Don't miss the documentary in French with English subtitles "Funès, le rire éternel" available on TV5MONDEplus to learn more about the fascinating career and legacy of France's most beloved comedic actor.
Directed by Gérard Oury, "La Folie des Grandeurs" (Delusions of Grandeur) sees the French actor play a conniving minister in 17th century Spain who schemes to marry the queen and become king. The film was a major critical and commercial success.
Directed by Jean Girault, "Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez" (The Troops of St. Tropez) introduced audiences to De Funès' most famous character: Ludovic Cruchot, a bumbling but lovable policeman. The film spawned six sequels, all of which were box office hits.
Directed by Serge Korber, "L'Homme Orchestre" (The One-Man Band) stars the French actor as a double bass player who falls in love with his neighbor, a beautiful opera singer. To impress her, he disguises himself as a one-man band and creates chaos in the streets. The film features some of De Funès' most memorable physical comedy.
Directed by Edouard Molinaro, "Hibernatus" follows De Funès as a man who wakes up from a 65-year cryogenic freeze to discover that his family has grown and changed around him. The film was a commercial success and inspired a Broadway play and an American remake, "Forever, Darling."
Directed by Robert Dhéry, "Le P'tit Baigneur" (The Little Bather) stars De Funès as a successful businessman who takes a vacation in a small seaside town and becomes embroiled in a feud between the locals.
Directed by Gérard Oury, "Le Corniaud" (The Sucker) sees De Funès play a con artist who tricks a naive businessman (played by Bourvil) into smuggling a car full of heroin from Italy to France. The film was a massive success, earning over 10 million admissions in France alone.
Directed by Edouard Molinaro, "Oscar" is a comedy of errors about a wealthy businessman (played by De Funès) who keeps hearing bad news after bad news in a single day. The film was adapted from a play of the same name and perfectly showcases De Funes talent to make you laugh without even talking, just with a frown or a sarcastic smile.
Directed by Gérard Oury, "Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob" (The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob) stars the French actor as a bigoted businessman who gets mistaken for a rabbi by a group of revolutionaries and goes on the run with them. The film sparked some controversy, but was a huge success, with over 7 million tickets sold in France, becoming the highest-grossing French film of the year.
Directed by Jean Girault, "Pouic-Pouic" follows a wealthy businessman (played by De Funès) who comes up with a scheme to get his daughter out of a bad marriage. This typical vaudeville (French term for slapstick comedies with lots of doors being slammed, people falling and over-the-top characters) was yet another box office hit for the comedian.
"La Traversée de Paris" is a French dramedy directed by Claude Autant-Lara. It is set in World War II-occupied Paris and follows two unlikely companions on a mission to distribute black market meat across the city. The film was praised for its unique style and humor and remains a classic in French cinema.
"Fantômas", directed by André Hunebelle, stars Louis de Funès as the bumbling yet determined Inspector Juve. The film is an adaptation of a popular French novel series and follows the criminal mastermind Fantômas as he terrorizes Paris with his elaborate schemes. The French comedian's signature facial expressions and physical comedy perfectly complement the film's absurdist tone, making it a beloved classic in French cinema. "Fantômas" would go on to inspire two sequels featuring both Hunebelle and de Funès.
"Le Grand Restaurant", directed by Jacques Besnard, stars Louis de Funès as the owner of a famous Parisian restaurant who must navigate a series of comedic mishaps in order to save his establishment. The film is widely regarded as one of de Funès' best performances and a beloved classic in French cinema.
"Les Grandes Vacances" is a dramedy directed by Jean Girault which follows a young boy and his family as they navigate their summer holiday in a provincial French town. The film was praised for its poignant portrayal of family dynamics and captures the charm and simplicity of French country life.
The French comedy, directed by Georges Lautne, boasts Louis de Funès as an industrialist whose life is thrown into chaos when his new secretary proves to be more trouble than she's worth. The film was a commercial success and remains a beloved comedy in French cinema.
To know more about Louis de Funès fascinating career, and his long lasting legacy on French cinema, watch these two documentaries on TV5MONDEplus "Louis de Funès, champion du box office", and "Funès, le rire éternel".