16 August 2015 | markwood272
High quality popular entertainment as art
Saw this via YouTube 8/15/15 in a beautiful print. The first Fernandel movie I've seen, and it was pure pleasure from start to finish.
A country sheep shearer becomes a dog groomer. His talented fingers soon progress to human hair. After impressing many females with his caresses as a coiffeur, he "marries up" and opens a fancy hair salon in Paris. Eventually his skill earns him the Legion of Honor, with amusing twists and turns along the way.
A few observations after watching this film:
First, the beguilingly simple comedic structure would be familiar to Moliere. And Fernandel's "Marius" (or "Mario") character resembles Beaumarchais' Figaro as re-imagined by Horatio Alger.
For a movie released (in France) in 1952 (the USA in 1954), the frank eroticism of the coiffeur's ministrations is surprising. Mario's magic fingers explore the female scalp as an erogenous zone, and the movie makes no effort to conceal the resulting orgasms. On the other hand Mario is more than his distinctive talent. Fernandel seems to represent what many audiences, whether French, American or whatever, would recognize as the deep intelligence that resides in the countryside among simple folk performing unglamorous but useful work, such as sheep-shearing.
This is an effective movie for French language learners. Throughout the film dialogue is spoken colloquially but clearly. Fernandel, a French "southerner", provides a good initiation into the world of regional French accents.
French cinematic art cannot be confined to the New Wave. I think that producing an entertaining movie is in itself a considerable artistic achievement. I should also note here that the production values, the film's fit-and-finish, approach perfection. Even the theme music is very pretty and works as an effective complement to the image and sound track.
Hairstyling's erotic possibilities show up in other films, notable examples of which include Patrice Leconte's "The Hairdresser's Husband" (1990) and "Shampoo" (1975) directed by Hal Ashby.
This is the second Jean Boyer-directed movie I have seen. The first was "We Will All Go to Paris" (1950). So far the guy is 2 for 2 with this viewer.
Last comment: more people should see this movie. It's an hour and a half of good, (mostly) clean fun, expertly conceived and executed. And nobody gets hurt. Just entertained.