20 classic French comedies

Nine of the best and most recent French Comedies were released on video on demand on 1st September. To mark the occasion, Walk This Way has compiled a selection of the 20 best French comedies of the last five decades:

Monsieur Gangster(1963) by Georges Lautner

Featuring Lino Ventura and Bernard Blier, Monsieur Gangster is now a classic that unashamedly mocks all the gangster-film clichés, and is scattered with the cult lines of writer Michel Audiard.

The Troops of Saint-Tropez (1964) by Jean Girault

Before Saint-Tropez became a holiday hotspot for the jet set, the Mediterranean village hosted several successful films in the “Gendarme” series, which starred comic Louis de Funès.

Don’t Look Now... We’re Being Shot At! (1966) by Gérard Oury

In Don’t Look Now... We’re Being Shot At! – which for a long time held the record for the most admissions taken in France, with more than 17 million tickets sold – two French civilians (Bourvil and Louis de Funès) come to the rescue of English soldiers in 1942 and unwittingly become involved in the Resistance.

The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe(1972) by Yves Robert

The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe is François Perrin (Pierre Richard), an oddball and daydreaming violinist who, at some considerable cost, will take on the role of a formidable international spy.

French Fried Vacation and French Fried Vacation 2 (1979) by Patrice Leconte

A happy-go-lucky group of friends meet up on holiday by the seaside, and then in the mountains. This successful format has produced two classic, hilarious films, thanks to the faultless acting of Christian Clavier, Marie-Anne Chazel and Thierry Lhermitte, amongst others.

Santa Claus Is a Stinker(1982) by Jean-Marie Poiré

In this comedy, the actors from French Fried Vacation find themselves spending Christmas evening manning a mental health line, having to deal with calls along with the arrival of several dropouts.

Life Is a Long Quiet River(1988) by Etienne Chatiliez

There couldn’t be two families further apart, socially and economically speaking, than the Groseille and Le Quesnoy families (the mother of the latter played by Hélène Vincent, one of the aunts in Attila Marcel). However, their paths cross when they learn that their babies were switched at birth...

The Visitors(1993) by Jean-Marie Poiré 

The Visitors are the Count of Montmirail (Jean Reno) and his faithful equerry (Christian Clavier), who find themselves transported from medieval times to the year 1992 after drinking a magic potion. The first film in this series recorded 16 million admissions, with the next title set to be released in February 2016.

Fear City(1994) by Alain Berbérian

The comic trio from the Nuls (Dominique Farrugia, Alain ChabatThe Brats and Chantal Lauby The Gilded Cage) star in this comedy, which takes place during the Cannes Film Festival, when the screening of the film Red Is Dead is disrupted by the serial murder of its projectionists.

Family Resemblances(1996) by Cédric Klapisch

In Family Resemblances, Cédric Klapisch (The Spanish Apartment) dissects family relationships with humour and dedication, with a cast that brings together Agnès Jaoui (The Dandelions), Jean-Pierre Bacri, Catherine Frot and Jean-Pierre Darroussin.

The Dinner Game(1998) by Francis Veber

Every week, a group of friends organises a dinner to which each of them has to bring an idiot. This evening, Brochant (Thierry Lhermitte) has hit the jackpot with François Pignon (Jacques Villeret), who is a matchstick-model enthusiast… and a master in the art of causing disasters.

The Taste of Others(2000) by Agnès Jaoui

Agnès Jaoui
(The Dandelions) steps behind the camera in this social film in which a rich, narrow-minded boss (Jean-Pierre Bacri) falls in love with an actress (Anne Alvaro) who becomes his English teacher.

Don’t Die Too Hard!(2000) by Charles Nemes

Two window cleaners, played by duo Eric and Ramzy (Porn in the Hood), are working on one of the highest towers in Paris, when they come face to face with terrorists… and might just foil the plans of these tough guys.

Asterix and Obelix Meet Cleopatra(2002) by Alain Chabat

This adaptation of one of the Franco-Belgian comic-strip classics by Alain Chabat (The Brats) has an impressive cast, comprising Jamel Debbouze, Monica Bellucci, Gérard Depardieu, Chantal Lauby, Jean-Pierre Bacri and Christian Clavier.

OSS 117 (Cairo, Nest of Spies and Lost in Rio) (2005)

These are the two latest films in the OSS 117 spy novel series, directed by Michel Hazanavicus (The Artist): in the 1950s, agent Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, aka OSS 117 (Jean Dujardin), is dispatched by president René Coty to thwart foreign nations’ evil plans – featuring Bérénice Béjo (The Scapegoat).

Welcome To the Sticks(2008) by Dany Boon

More than 20 million admissions were recorded for this film, which plays around with regional stereotyping and features Dany Boon,who also wrote and directed it. There’s no denying the ongoing popularity of this northern comedian, as demonstrated by the widespread success of Nothing To Declare and Supercondriac.

Untouchable(2011) by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache

A phenomenal box-office hit with more than 19 million admissions under its belt, Untouchable features an unlikely duo, when Philippe (François Cluzet), a wealthy, disabled aristocrat, employs Driss (Omar Sy), a young guy from the rough end of town who has just got out of prison. Featuring Audrey Fleurot (Pop Redemption).

9 Month Stretch(2012) by Albert Dupontel

In 9 Month Stretch, director, screenwriter and actor Albert Dupontel plays Bob, a criminal who has got his judge, Ariane (Sandrine KiberlainThe Brats), pregnant on a drunken night out.

Serial (Bad) Weddings(2014) by Philippe de Chauveron

2014’s biggest French hit both at home and abroad, the film follows Claude and Marie Verneuil (Chantal Lauby – The Gilded Cage), a bourgeois couple from old-fashioned, Catholic France whose four daughters are the apples of their eyes. Their tolerance is put to the test when the daughters marry a Muslim, a Jew and a Chinese man. And when the youngest finally gets involved with a Catholic... he turns out to be black.

The Bélier Family(2014) by Eric Lartigau

All of the Bélier family are deaf, except for Paula. When her gift for singing is discovered, she must make a choice: continue to help her parents on the family farm or prepare for a singing competition and maybe leave for Paris. Louane Emera (Paula), one of the stars of The Voice, teams up with François Damiens (Porn In The Hood), who plays her father.

16. november 2015, af Cineuropa