In this riot of frantic disguises and mistaken identities, Victor Pivert, a blustering, bigoted French factory owner, finds himself taken hostage by Slimane, an Arab rebel leader. The two dress up as rabbis as they try to elude not only assasins from Slimane's country, but also the police, who think Pivert is a murderer. Pivert ends up posing as Rabbi Jacob, a beloved figure who's returned to France for his first visit after 30 years in the United States. Adding to the confusion are Pivert's dentist-wife, who thinks her husband is leaving her for another woman, their daughter, who's about to get married, and a Parisian neighborhood filled with people eager to celebrate the return of Rabbi Jacob.Written by
Eugene Kim <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is one of the funniest, bust-a-gut laughing, most hysterical films ever made. It came out in France in 1973, and did so well that it was put into release (with subtitles) in the US, where it more than held its own. This is slapstick farce at its very best, triumphantly showcasing Luis De Funes, who was as big a comedy star in France as was Jerry Lewis. It is unfortunate that this is one of the only films of his that made it to America. The premise is the typical switched identities / coincidental mixups / innocent man being chased plots of the genre, but what makes this one sublime is the unbelievably rubber face and spot-on timing of De Funes, backed up by a good supporting cast, decent script and excellent direction. I first saw this in my teens when it originally came out, and my entire family all agreed that it was the funniest film we'd ever seen. I recently saw it again with my own children, and it has absolutely held up over thirty years. If you like comedy (particularly of the fish-out-of-water and/or slapstick variety) do your best to track this one down. It's worth it!
PS: As a little treat, look closely at the actor who plays Rabbi Jacob. Look familiar? It was Marcel Dalio, who played the croupier in Casablanca!
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