Louis De Funes La Folie Des Grandeurs': a Comedic Masterpiece

Louis de Funès et Yves Montand © Wikimedia Commons/Jack de Nijs
Louis de Funès et Yves Montand © Wikimedia Commons/Jack de Nijs
Louis de Funès et Yves Montand © Wikimedia Commons/Jack de Nijs

'La Folie des Grandeurs' (Delusions of Grandeur), released in 1971, is a testament to de Louis Funès' unique style of humor.

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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Louis de Funès et Yves Montand © Wikimedia Commons/Jack de Nijs


Where can I stream 'La Folie des Grandeurs' and other Louis de Funès movies?

The French-language network TV5MONDE offers the largest selection of French movies and French series with English subtitles in America. Any fan of French cinema should find something to their liking: from 60's classics to festival favorites and newly released films. Plus, with the streaming platform TV5MONDEplus, it's 1000s of French-language titles that you can stream with English or French subtitles. In November, TV5MONDE Cinema on Demand will stream 10 French movies with Louis de Funès including must-see comedies like "Le Grand restaurant", "La folie des grandeurs", "Oscar", "Les grandes vacances" and "Hibernatus".

Want to know more about Louis de Funès' rise to fame and special place 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

Louis de Funès at the height of his stardom

'La Folie des Grandeurs' (Delusions of Grandeur), released in 1971, is a testament to de Louis Funès' unique style of humor and his enduring legacy in the world of comedy. The movie, directed by Gérard Oury, was released at a time when French cinema was experiencing a resurgence of comedy. The 1970s marked a period of change in French society and culture (post May 68 youth uproar), and cinema played a vital role in reflecting and satirizing these transformations. The film, set in Spain, combined historical elements with comedic exaggeration, creating a perfect backdrop for de Funès' comedic brilliance.

The film's comedic elements are reminiscent of Louis de Funès' signature style, characterized by physical comedy, expressive facial expressions, and impeccable timing. De Funès had already established himself as a comedic legend with roles in films like 'La Grande Vadrouille' and 'Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez,' and 'La Folie des Grandeurs' was another feather in his cap.

Read more: Dive Into the Cinematic World of Louis De Funes: Analyzing His Best Roles

The making of a classic

The success of 'La Folie des Grandeurs', directed by Gérard Oury, can be attributed in large part to Louis de Funès' performance. His ability to infuse even the most mundane situations with humor and his unparalleled comic timing turned the film, like many other Louis de Funès movie, into a box-office hit. De Funès' on-screen presence and charisma captivated audiences, ensuring that the film would be remembered as a comedy classic. Louis de Funès didn't only make amazing films, but they none the less all left a footprint into the comedic genre in France. 'La Folie des Grandeurs' stood apart with a few others as a very socially relevant comedy.

Louis de Funès, born on July 31, 1914, in Courbevoie, France, was a multi-talented actor known for his versatility in both comedy and drama. His journey to stardom was marked by hard work and dedication as his career really took after he turned 40. Before 'La Folie des Grandeurs,' de Funès had already earned acclaim for his roles in various French films. His remarkable career spanned several decades and included over 140 films.

De Funès' role in 'La Folie des Grandeurs' as Don Salluste de Bazan, a conniving and comical nobleman, showcased his comedic prowess. His distinctive voice, expressive face, and impeccable physical comedy made him a standout in the film.

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A Humorous Depiction of Greed, Madness, and Excess

'La Folie des Grandeurs' is set in 17th-century Spain and revolves around the cunning Don Salluste de Bazan, who is expelled from the royal court for his treacherous deeds. Seeking revenge, he hatches a plan to disgrace the Queen and her favorite, Blaze, by involving a beautiful and virtuous innkeeper's daughter, Juana. The film follows a series of comedic misunderstandings and absurd situations as Don Salluste's plan unravels. 'La Folie des Grandeurs' is lovely adapted from Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo.

'La Folie des Grandeurs' explores themes of greed, madness, and excess through its characters and plot. Don Salluste is relentless at pursuing revenge and his absurd schemes and the chaos that ensues reflect the madness that can result from unchecked ambition. The extravagant costumes, lavish sets, and exaggerated characters adds to the obvious underlying theme of the movie.

Overview of the Main Characters in the Film and Their Roles

  • Don Salluste de Bazan (Louis de Funès): The conniving and comical nobleman, who is the mastermind behind the plot to disgrace the Queen and Blaze. Read more: Louis de Funès' best films
  • Blaze (Yves Montand): The dashing and charming lover of the Queen, who becomes entangled in Don Salluste's scheme as his valet.
  • Queen Maria Christina (Karin Schubert): The beautiful and innocent queen, oblivious to the plots against her.
  • Juana (Alice Sapritch): The virtuous innkeeper's daughter unwittingly drawn into Don Salluste's plans.

Influence and Impact of 'La Folie des Grandeurs'

The film's success helped solidify Louis de Funès' status as a comedy legend in France, and it further cemented the popularity of French comedy both domestically and internationally. The film's blend of historical setting, adaptation of classic literature (Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo) and slapstick humor set a precedent for future comedies, as it was very rare at the time.

The film, which was directed by Gérard Oury and co-starred Yves Montand and Alice Sapritch, premiered in 1971 and was received positively by audiences both in France and abroad.

It was a box office success in France, earning over 5 million admissions and becoming the 4th highest-grossing film in France in 1971 (number 1 that year was The Aristocats!). It also had international success, being released in numerous countries worldwide and becoming a popular comedy on TV in Europe.

Critics praised the film for its witty humor, fast-paced action, and outstanding performances by the cast. Louis de Funès, in particular, was widely acclaimed for his portrayal of Don Salluste. It's safe to say 'La folie des grandeurs' remains one of the most beloved French comedies of all time, and a testament to the great comedic talent of Louis de Funès.

Watch French comedies and much more on the only French channel available in the US TV5MONDE.

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