31 August 2014 | dbdumonteil
It's all play acting
Yes it's all play acting !Emile works as a prop-man for a friend director (the prologue ,which features the famous "L'Hirondelle Des Faubourgs",badly sung,is rather smart ).
His wife left him when their daughter was still a baby because she asked for more .So she invented a fictitious husband ,enough to make the girl dream all night:he owns lots of plantations in Congo ,he meets presidents in Africa ,he is a raider ,an explorer . Now the girl wants to marry and at the time,she needed her dad's permission;but the snob wife does not want her hubby to meet this lousy father ,who has nothing to do with with the super papa she put on a pedestal.Emile is not prepared to accept it and he goes to his wife's mansion ,ready to play the part of the wealthy progenitor !It's all play acting!
Fernandel excels in this kind of part in which he plays a role which is not his:the subject will be reworked ,in Jean Boyer's "Sénéchal Le Magnifique" with even more style .He depicts Africa ,where he has never set foot in his life ,with a wonderful naiveté,and the daughter and her fiancé are worship the ground he walks on: the tom-toms,the cardboard jungle,the irrigation,and even the tigers ("there are no tigers in Africa ,sir/-I imported them")
And in the last segment,Emile hires an actor to play the part of a villain so that the gun-shy fiancé (who grows plants in a greenhouse and who is afraid of being out of his depth )can show he is brave too... It's all play acting again,but what if is the villain is a true villain?
Generally panned by the critics,"Emile L'Africain " is nevertheless a pleasant comedy which owes everything to his principal's prodigious talent.