A cult role that has marked millions of moviegoers. In 1964, Louis de Funès donned the costume of chief sergeant Ludovic Cruchot in Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez, directed by Jean Girault. A feature film that remains one of the successes of the French seventh art today.
Born of a sad disappointment experienced by screenwriter Richard Balducci, victim of a robbery on the Côte d’Azur, the latter mentioned his idea for a film to Louis de Funès. Seduced by the idea, the actor suggested his project to filmmaker Jean Girault and his co-screenwriter Jacques Vilfrid. The team drew up a first draft of this comedy where a somewhat zealous gendarme arrives in the south of France within a brigade led by a somewhat overwhelmed warrant officer.
In his book Louis de Funès de A à Z, published by Gründ editions in 2020, the author Bertrand Dicale talks about behind the scenes of the film. “Shooting began on June 5, 1964 outdoors in Saint-Tropez. More than half of the shots were shot in the open air, the others being made at the Victorine studios in Nice”. The journalist and cultural expert also reveals some filming secrets. “To hold the three five minutes of useful film per day, Jean Girault willingly lets his actors improvise”.
Among the flagship gendarmes of the saga, Louis de Funès notably plays with his comedian friend Michel Galabru (Warrant Officer Gerber), Jean Lefebvre (Lucien Fougasse) Christian Marin (Albert Merlot), Guy Grosso (Gaston Tricard) and Michel Modo (Jules Berlicot). A joyful troupe that stands out for their memorable scenes, while also giving their opinion on the making of the film. As Bertrand Dicale recounts in his book, they “find themselves at the rushes, freely discussing the plans which seem to them the best, ideas which could be further developed”.
A simple comedy which will nevertheless experience an unexpected success when it was released on September 9, 1964. With 7,809,334 spectators counted in all the cinemas of France, Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez is the third greatest film of the career of Louis de Funes. A cult Saint-Tropez saga which will follow five other episodes until 1982. Forty years later, here is an anthology of the most beautiful photos of this crazy adventure!