One of my favourites - but relatively unknown ...........
This is one of Fernandel's minor and less-known films. It is to be seen occasionally on French TV and I have just ( September 10th 2005 ) managed to acquire a copy on DVD in René Château's Collection "Memoire du Cinéma Français - Les Années 50 ) but it is indeed a rare item as it would appear to have gone out of print almost as soon as having been edited !! The film lasts precisely 75 minutes.
Basically I thought the first 55 minutes of the film were highly amusing but that the last twenty minutes are far less interesting. It does help, though if, like me you are an unconditional fan of the one and only Fernandel !
Just under the first hour this film is indeed hilarious with Fernandel trying to pass off as the Duke of Miramar ( Le Duc de Miramar ) instead of Luc de Miramar, a simple hotel porter. When he stays at the Cigalière run by the inimitable Thérèse Dorny, hilarious situations arrive. Dorny plays the wealthy aunt of his friend André Duroc, who is a bit of a ne'er do well and a high-liver but whose aunt believes him to be a great inventor in the making ! André Duroc is played by the great French Actor Andrex. He actually has his aunt believing that he has invented a machine to rock hens during their sleep so that they may lay three times more eggs ! His aunt has promised him all the money he wants if he manages to get a Duke to come and stay at her château. This will facilitate her being elected "Présidente d'Honneur" ( honorary president ) of of the "Ligue des Us et Coutumes" ( equivalent of an association which seeks to perpetuate ancient rites and customs ). So Duroc obliges, and there's also some comic romantic element with Duroc getting his girlfriend to pass off as the Duke's sister so that his aunt will (financially) bless their marriage !
In the last twenty minutes the story changes completely once the cat is out of the bag and he has to exit the château in a hurry and gets caught up in military manoeuvres nearby. It's not the same kind of humour and tends to drag on. Anyway, well worth seeing for all the fun and antics in the château where the viewer can delight in accents and characters which seem totally absent from the France of today I wonder where on earth he "Cigalière" was actually filmed. Of course most of the film was shot in a studio, but at one point we do see the "Pont du Gard" and the backdrop to Dorny's La Cigalière bears a strange resemblance to the Mont Ventoux.There are also some scenes with strong winds, which lead me to believe that the area in question was buffeted by the "Mistral" and was probably somewhere in the south of the Rhône valley !
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