“From jazz to pop, Louis de Funès is always in the right tempo”, estimates Stéphane Lerouge, film music specialist

De Funès and music, is it a love story?

At all! A bar pianist in his early days, De Funès was never, on screen, betrayed by music. Undoubtedly, the composers were sensitive to the modernity of his playing, based in large part on the ideas of rhythm and break – key elements of writing music. They appreciate the musicality of his movements and faces.

Between 1963 and 1982, for two incredible decades, the only fake record was the soundtrack of Stingy in 1980. Vladimir Cosma was contacted. But Jeanne de Funès [l’épouse de Louis, Ndlr] managed to force… his piano teacher, Jean Bizet, who had never written for cinema. Given the project’s ambitions, it almost left the road!

The first important composer of his stellar career was Raymond Lefèvre…

Yes. He came from Break the banks in 1963 and the first Police. It was he who made the famous police marcha “tube” (in spirit The River Kwai Bridge) that de Funès wants to hear in all episodes. Lefèvre was reluctant, he was afraid of the effects of repetition, the wear and tear. She says: “I love it, this march. But it’s not Mozart or Ravel.”

De Funès slips into this modernity with ease

Lefèvre was also the one who led De Funès into the world of pop?

Yes. From 1967 with Summer holiday, he immersed it in the rhythms and sounds of Carnaby Street. De Funès slipped into this modernity with ease, as he would three years later Men’s Orchestra. François de Roubaix, who wrote the music for this musical, understood that with de Funès everything was built around rhythm and rhythm.

With its psychedelic pop ballet, the film was a relative flop on release. But over the years, he has built a huge fan following. For Louis de Funès, compared to the series Police by Jean Girault, it’s almost an avant-garde film.

In 1971, the soundtrack La Folie des grandeurs marked the spirit of…

Director Gérard Oury hoped for a classic score, 16th-century style. However, Michel Polnareff has built a balanced score between a cavalcade of neo-Morriconic, flamenco, and Arab-Andalusian folklore – all crowned with an ethereal theme of love.

Amazed by the quality of his work, De Funès tickled one of his rare rages at television: he found it unacceptable that the disc was not available on Wednesdays of theatrical release.

Vladimir Cosma occupies a special place in Louis’s career?

Cosma signed his last film before his heart attack, The Adventures of Rabbi Jacob (1973), and the next two – Wings or thighs (1976) and Dispute (1978). Certain themes of the comedy, quite lyrical, provide an emotional counterpoint.

Today, Louis de Funès exists with and without image

De Funès, you write, accompanies the evolution of musical fashions?

What is most striking, with hindsight, is the synthesis embodied in these dazzling brackets. We glide smoothly from yé-yé rhythms to pop, from disco influences to electronic instruments Cabbage soup – the swan song before the last Policenot necessarily necessary.

Do you have any regrets?

I wish De Funès lived long enough to see the durability of his films and soundtracks. How he reacts to the ringing cell phone Gendarme Marchto cascading remixes of the score Men’s Orchestrauntil the appearance of Le Sacre du Tympanum shocked the public with re-readings Jo or several Summer holiday?

Today, Louis de Funès exists with and without image. A handful of semiquavers is enough to bring back that magical figure that 21st century kids today always capture, without half measures.

A specialist in film scores, Stéphane Lerouge lamented that De Funès “did not live long enough to see the staying power of the comedy and the soundtrack”. (Photo by Jérémie Imbert).

La Zizanie: the song that was rejected by Pierre Perret

To La Zizanie’s credit, in 1978, producer Christian Fechner
want a song performed by Pierre Perret. “With his slang spirit, writer Zizi wrote lyrics on themes composed by Vladimir Cosma,” said Stéphane Lerouge. He conjures with the words ”vioque” or ”orgasm”, throws nails at ”new calotins”, evokes ”unhappy travelos” [qui] want to have children. At the first screening of the mixed film, Louis de Funès and his wife choked. Their veto is final: too vulgar! Three weeks before the release, Cosma relied on taking the lip-sync of the song to extreme turn it into an instrumental version.
Perret’s title, On sème la zizanie, was unearthed only 32 years later.

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