Le Gendarme de St. Tropez: A French Comedy Classic With Louis de Funès

Le port de Saint Tropez, home of "Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez" © Photo by Valentin B. Kremer on Unsplash
Le port de Saint Tropez, home of "Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez" © Photo by Valentin B. Kremer on Unsplash
Le port de Saint Tropez, home of "Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez" © Photo by Valentin B. Kremer on Unsplash

Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez is a French comedy directed by Jean Girault and starring the famous French actor, Louis de Funès. It is the first of six films in the Les Gendarmes series...

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).

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Le port de Saint Tropez, home of "Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez" © Photo by Valentin B. Kremer on Unsplash

Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez is a French comedy directed by Jean Girault and starring the famous French actor, Louis de Funès. It is the first of six films in the Les Gendarmes series, which spanned from 1964 to 1982, and revolves around an uptight gendarme named Ludovic Cruchot who is transferred to the seaside town of St Tropez. The film, which successfully combines slapstick and satire, is still one of the most popular French comedies of all time.

Where to stream Louis de Funès movies?

The French-language network TV5MONDE is the place to be for French comedies with Louis de Funès like "Rabbi Jacob", "La Folie des grandeurs" and "La Grande vadrouille". TV5MONDE is what to get if you need a little French in your life. French Movies, TV shows, documentaries, news in French as well as many shows around French culture, fashion and art de vivre are just a selection of what you can watch on TV5MONDE. You can also stream French content anytime you want with the streaming platform TV5MONDEplus and its thousands of French-language titles available with English or French subtitles.

Starting in November, TV5MONDE Cinema on Demand will offer 10 French comedies with Louis de Funès including "Le Grand restaurant", "La folie des grandeurs", "Oscar", "Les grandes vacances" and "Hibernatus".

Looking to know more about Louis de Funès' rise to fame as well as his unique role in French cinema? Watch the documentary available on the French streaming platformTV5MONDEPlus, "Louis de Funès, champion du box office" or read our article on the Top 15 Movies of Louis de Funès

Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez, a French Comedy Staple

Much like Police Academy and National Lampoon's, Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez has become a staple of school holiday TV and a comedy franchise beloved by every generation. The movie relies heavily on Louis de Funès, France's most beloved comedian from the 60's and 70's.

Louis de Funès was known for his physical comedy, hyperactive behavior, and exaggerated facial expressions. He often played uptight or irritable characters that clashed with the world around him. In Le Gendarme de St Tropez, de Funès’ comedic style is on full display as he portrays Ludovic Cruchot, a bumbling gendarme whose strict adherence to rules and regulations creates chaos in the laid-back and chic town of Saint Tropez.

The film was a massive box office success in France, grossing over 6 million francs during its initial run. It also spawned five sequels, all of which were popular with French audiences. Even today, the film remains a classic of French cinema, although some of the following films are probably too dated and weird for foreign audiences!

Read more: The best films with Louis de Funès

Saint Tropez, the town of Brigitte Bardot... and Le Gendarme!

St Tropez serves as a backdrop for the film, and the movie showcases the town’s luxurious lifestyle and carefree attitude. The beautiful scenery and sunny beaches create a stark contrast with the rigid structure of the gendarmerie, providing ample opportunities for comedy. On one end, you have the yacht, Brigitte Bardot and the chic seaside restaurant. On the other end, you have Ludovic Cruchot and his clumsy brigade, Fougasse, Merlot, Ticard and Berlicot.

The titular character of the film, Ludovic Cruchot, is perhaps the most iconic role portrayed by Louis de Funès. The character is a strict disciplinarian, who takes his position as a gendarme very seriously. He is often at odds with the laid-back lifestyle of St Tropez and the people who live there, leading to many humorous situations. As the film progresses, however, we see a softer side to Cruchot, as he begins to embrace the town's lifestyle and even becomes romantically involved with a local woman.

The first opus, The Troops of Saint Tropez, follows Ludovic Cruchot (played by Louis de Funès), who is transferred to the luxurious and carefree town of Saint Tropez. As Cruchot tries to adjust to his new surroundings, he clashes with the residents of Saint Tropez, his boss the Sergeant Gerber and especially the nudist and hippie camp. During the course of the film, he looks for a stolen Rembrandt painting, while being caught in the lie of Nicole (Geneviève Grad), his teenage daughter who tells her friends the tall tale that her father is a rich billionaire with a yacht.

Over the course of the film, Cruchot begins to loosen up and even starts to embrace the French Riviera's lifestyle. He finds himself drawn to a local woman (Claude Gensac) and even begins to see the town in a new light.

A satire of the societal clashes of France

The Les Gendarmes series was extremely popular in France and remains beloved to this day. The series was also influential, inspiring similar comedies in the years that followed. The character of Ludovic Cruchot has become a cultural icon in France, and there have even been efforts to preserve the series and its impact on French cinema.

While the film is primarily a comedy, there are serious societal themes underneath the humor. The film was released in 1964, a time when France was undergoing significant social and political changes. The rigid hierarchy of the gendarmerie stands in stark contrast to the laid-back, free-spirited lifestyle of St Tropez, highlighting generational and cultural divides between the French youth at the time and the rigidity of the French president de Gaulle.

All the films from the Gendarme franchise

  • Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez (The Troops of St. Tropez), released in 1964
  • Le Gendarme à New York (The Gendarme in New York), released in 1965
  • Le Gendarme se marie (The Gendarme Gets Married), released in 1968
  • Le Gendarme en balade (The Gendarme Takes Off), released in 1970
  • Le Gendarme et les Extra-Terrestres (The Gendarme and the Extra-Terrestrials), released in 1979
  • Le Gendarme et les Gendarmettes (Never Play Clever Again), released in 1982

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