A cocky and insolent accountant asks his rich boss, a prosperous real estate promoter, for a generous raise
so he can marry a woman
who happens to be the boss' daughter. That's for the starters, now, it gets tricky, if the boss says 'no', the accountant won't give him back a large sum of money he stole from the company. Well, he didn't steal it technically but he took it out of a technicality. This is crazy already but there's more to come. Little does the accountant know that the girl isn't even his boss' daughter, but he already started the wacky chain of events which, one imbroglio leading to another, made the boss' daughter reveal that she's in love with someone
and pregnant. Does she tell the truth? We suspect it is since the happy father's name is "Oscar" but really, it hardly matters, truth is only a matter of perception
"Oscar", based on a long-time running play created by Claude Magnier, belongs to the tradition of French screwball comedy, which means, it doesn't have much of plot and anything that should happen must work as a set-up for laughs. How could the film have a plot anyway? The departure it takes is so complicatedly crazy that even the resolutions that come after are not to be taken for granted, some of them even pave the way to crazier and sometimes needlessly complicated situations and other misunderstandings. This is situation comedy elevated to cinematic format. I don't mean this as a criticism, but as a neutral term because this branch of humor fits this unity of location/ time/ story structure, though it doesn't have the edge or wit of other based-on- plays comedies such as "Santa Claus is a Bastard", "Dinner of Schmucks" or "The First Name".
Yet, this is one of the most successful plays in France with a running record of 13 years (and it was produced again in the 2000's) and the reason why it works so much is because it's not about the situation, but about the reaction of one man to all of them: Bertrand Barnier played by Louis de Funès. Once De Funès took the leading role, he never left it and ended up playing it 600 times, it was maybe the role of his lifetime, and people didn't go to see the play but De Funès play in it. De Funès has always been known for his eccentric tantrums, his mimics à la Donald Duck, his tics and his embodiment of this temporary madness called anger by Romans, well, given all the situations he comes through in "Oscar", the fans had their money's worth. The film is a never-ending series of shouting, grimacing. On that level, it can be seen as the consummate De Funès' movie.
Indeed, while the other actors do justice to their parts, honorable mention to Claude Rich as the son-in-law-to-be, Paul Preboist as the butler and the always delightful Claude Gensac as Barnier's wife, De Funès is the pillar of the film. It might sound as a compliment but it is also the film's Achilles' heel because if you're not a fan or if you get rapidly tired of noises and gesticulations, you'll find the experience a bit exhaustive. This is a significant difference between Molinaro and Oury, Oury made movies where De Funès was part of a duo so that the film could be enjoyable on many other levels. In "Oscar", it's a hit-or-miss, and even fans that love De Funès for sentimental reasons might find the film too noisy. Speaking for myself, I couldn't stand the crying noises of the spoiled little daughter, which were worse than nails on a chalkboard, even as an intended effect, it was horrible. Fortunately, they were not overused.
But there are also some great moments and the best is the one where after being insulted in the phone by a man who's supposedly pimply, De Funès goes into a long rant mocking his big nose and spots on his face, without any words, only body language, a plane flying over a face and bombarding it, a nose so big, it become an elastic object, he pulls it, he even mimics the struggle to pull it, he steps on it, it misses and hits his face, then he pulls it again and blows in it, until his face explodes. This is all done with an invisible form that becomes, in the hand of the master, a prop of his comedic genius, contributing to one of the funniest French comedy moments. At the end, he just lies down and there's a silent moment as if Molinaro gave a little time for the viewers, and for the actor, to catch their breath. This little touch works like a magnificent punch line.
De Funès improvised this moment during the play and each new day, each day inventing a new visual gag, and you could hear the roaring laughter in the audience. Maybe this is what lacks in "Oscar", as the result might feel a bit too stagy but this scene is the culmination of De Funès' talent, one that ended up affecting his health and causing a heart attack in 1975, forcing him to go for quieter roles, different from "Oscar". But "Oscar" is still the best illustration to what made De Funès so great, a unique talent that made Oury say he was like a violin player and the violin himself, De Funès translated the situations into laughs through his acting, but he was also, as a body and a face, the instrument of his own laughs.
To see "Oscar" is to understand what made De Funès one of the best comic actors ever, he could carry alone a whole movie.
Loading video, please wait...
This film originated as a play in Paris. The story focuses on the one-day adventures of Bertrand Barnier played with a genius of French cinema, Louis de Funes. In the same morning he learns that his daughter is pregnant, an employee stole a large amount of money from his company, his maid is about to resign in order to marry a wealthy neighbor and his body builder is interested in marrying his daughter. The seemingly complicated story-line is full of comedy or errors and some of the most hilarious mime scenes of the French cinema.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
July 05, 2021 at 07:38 PM