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>
I first saw this when I was a kid on its first US release back in the early 1970's. I laughed to kill myself and thought it was one of the funniest things I had ever seen.
The quest to see the movie again over the last 30 years has been a labor of love. I don't think it ever aired on New York TV and its showings on cable can be counted on one hand. I was lucky enough to see it a a local revival theater a few years ago before it completely disappeared. Thanks to E-Bay I recently picked up a VHS copy and now comes word that a US release on DVD is moments away. Life couldn't be better.
The one thing the handful of viewings of the film has taught me is that the movie plays differently every time I see it. Depending on mood it I may find it to be one of the funniest or one of the most charming films movies ever made. Some sequences in one viewing will leave me gasping for breath while other times it will simply make me smile. No matter though I've enjoyed it each time I've watched it.
The story of a bigot who gets way laid and ends up on the run all over France only to end up posing as a beloved Rabbi, is ripe with comic potential most of which is put to good use. Also put to good use are some twists that no rational person would come up with, but which work in the context of a wild comedy, the bubble gum factory for example.
This is a wonderful life affirming story that makes you laugh until you cry while showing that ultimately we are all the same. Which is kind of tragic in view of the films opening shots which are some of the earliest film footage shot at the World Trade Center, which had just opened.
If you like to laugh see this movie, its wonderful.
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