Mission Distribution gives us a beautiful surprise for this season : three films of Marcel Pagnol in the restored version, and for the first time in the halls since 50 years : the TOPAZ, THE SCHPOUNTZ and the least known to NAÏS. We had already had the chance to rediscover the masterpiece that is La Trilogie marseillaise (Marius, Fanny and César) in a beautiful restoration last December. It is now the turn of Fernandel be for the honor in three of his best roles.

Let’s start in the chronological order. THE SCHPOUNTZ out in 1938 just after The trilogie marseillaise (of which only the last pane, Caesar, is directed by Marcel Pagnol himself). The idea of the film would be coming to Pagnol during the filming of’Angèle (1934) where a man looks unkempt was every day on the shooting, claiming that his valet had evil accoutré. THE SCHPOUNTZ it is, therefore, Irenee (Fernandel) a peasant raised by his uncle (the always wonderful Charpin) that instead of resuming the trade of it prefers to dream movie star. When a shooting takes place in his village, Irenaeus takes the opportunity to prove his “talent“ and the team, to make fun of him, decides to let him believe that he has all his chances by inviting him to join you in Paris. But Irenaeus may be more talented than what everyone else wants to believe…

Found in THE SCHPOUNTZ themes dear to Pagnol , such as family relations (here it is about an uncle and his nephew), the desire for emancipation, the differences between town and country. Pagnol took the opportunity to draw a portrait of vitriol industry (the cinema) arrogant, which was not spared during the passage of the theatre in the seventh item THE SCHPOUNTZ is a fable also funny and touching and Pagnol proves again his huge talent of the playwright. The dialogues are crispy and Pagnol offers Fernandel in one of his scenes more interesting when he improvises a hearing in front of the team to show the range of his game !

In 1945, when fate NAÏS, Pagnol has already achieved several major successes, as well as the wife of The baker, or The daughter of a well digger. Adapted from a novel by Emile Zola, NAÏS, tells of the forbidden love of the beautiful Naïs, daughter of the peasant Micoulin, and Frederic, sons of the patrons of the latter. Toine (Fernandel) is the friend of Frederick and lovers of Naïs, which it hope for nothing because of his ugliness and his hump of Quasimodo. By love for Naïs, he agrees to hide Micoulin their relationship. But Micoulin eventually discover it and wants to avenge his honor by eliminating Frederic.

The history of NAÏS could be confused with that ofAngèle (1934), or The daughter of a well digger as there are many similarities : the father gruff who objects to his daughter, the forbidden love, the differences of social environment, the friend of still a little bit naïve and full of good sense, which should prove to be a great deal of support, dialogue, highlights and extreme depth. Pagnol key as much as it entertains, and its great strength is knowing how to nuance her characters and offer them a range of humanity wide. Thus, the abusive father may be a man less contemptible than it seems. As for the role of Toine the hunchback, it is probably the most beautiful role of Fernandel, at once endearing, just and generous, the one who reconciles us with the Men.

“Pagnol proves again her instinct undeniable to reveal the immense talent of comedians like Fernandel“

Marcel Pagnol achieves TOPAZ in 1951. He has already adapted his own play in 1936, but disappointed with the result, he decided to make a remake with in the title role, Fernandel. The film recounts the adventures of a school teacher dedicated and integrated (Topaz) that makes return of his property for refusing to change the notes of one of his poor students and wealthy. He finds himself forced to survive as a repeater from a rich family and quickly becomes the object of a municipal councillor corrupted without his knowledge. When he realizes the imposture of which he is the victim, Topaz was found to be less honest and less naive than it seems.

TOPAZ is new to Fernandel the opportunity to prove his great talent as a comedian in the double-log tragic and comic. As Irenaeus in THE SCHPOUNTZ, Topaz quickly learned the codes of the world cruel and immoral where it operates and the reversal of the situation is also funny that hilarious. This ultimate version will meet with great public success, even if Pagnol is not reached the quality of his cinema before the war.

The final three films of Pagnol, who, if they don’t match La trilogie marseillaise or Manon des sources, however, remain of the films to discover. Pagnol proves here again that he was a great filmmaker in addition to being a writer wonderful and he had an instinct undeniable to reveal the immense talent of actors such as Fernandel or Raimu (the greatest actor of all time according to Orson Welles) by providing them with their finest roles.

Anne Laure Farges

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