Flower Power

Let’s Not Get Angry from David Cairns on Vimeo.

I thought the above moment was so nice, it deserved to be plucked from its film of origin and presented all alone, so that people could, if they wished, view it and not read the reviewlet that follows, just enjoying the mystery of What Was That? Work on your Negative Capability, people! Who knows when you might need it?

NE NOUS FACHONS PAS has some quite funny stuff in it. It’s a French gangster comedy with the reliably cuboid Lino Ventura. It’s best, and most brazen conceit is the British invasion — a gang of English criminals planning a heist on French soil. Since they are Brits, their leader is a suave ex-military man, but the rest of them wear school caps, blazers, and leather gloves with ruby rings on top, and ride mopeds. Did I mention they’re British?

Lino, who’s working on anger management issues, tries hard not to let these guys upset him, but when they blow up his place of business, his friend’s place of business, and the cottage they seek refuge in, he buys some explosives of his own.

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Georges Lautner directed with quite a bit of panache. Michel Audiard scripted along with a small gang of other scribes.

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4 Responses to “Flower Power”

  1. Lino Ventura made several of these comedy gangster films with Georges Lautner, adapted from novels by Albert Simonin and with dialogue by Michel Audiard (father of Jacques) – a peculiarly French credit which seems designed to differentiate it from the structural crafting. (I may be wrong here, but am happy to be set straight by someone who knows more about it than I do.)

    To me, this seems to mean getting actors like Ventura and Bernard Blier to spout lots of lowlife argot, which invariably has native French speakers rolling in the aisles, but which leaves even fairly fluent French speakers like me scratching our heads. Probably the reason these films have never really enjoyed much of a cult reputation on the UK side of the Channel.

    Les Barbouzes was another example, but the best-loved is almost certainly Les tontons flingueurs. It is generally agreed these are national treasures; they are screened regularly on French TV, and even people who are not what we could call film buffs are able to quote from them extensively.

  2. There’s enough visual panache here to give the film a chance of working even in translation — but I did find a lot of the comic rhythms slightly predictable, and there’s too much slapping. But the depiction of Britishness is kind of delightful.

  3. Howard Curtis Says:

    Michel Audiard was by far the most famous and prolific “dialoguiste” of the French cinema during the 50s and 60s (and was still working in the early 80s). He worked on over a hundred films, including most of Jean Gabin’s star vehicles during that period, and was so famous that his credit was always prominently displayed on posters. Many of his lines are still quoted today.

  4. Yes, that’s why I mentioned him above — I’m vaguely aware of his significance.

    Maybe he needs Jez Butterworth or some other chump to subtitle his films in British dialect.

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