Monday, 28 March 2011

Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob

1973 by Gerard Oouri

Mr. Pivert, a racist, rich and mean industrialist, who is deserted after a car accident, witnesses some men trying to kill a rebel Arab leader, Slimane. Pivert really causes some trouble there and is being chased by the Arab killers. Slimane too joins him and soon takes Pivert as a hostage trying to escape. The Police too wants Pivert as they think he might have killed somebody during the hiccup with the killers. Slimane leads Pivert to the airport. Pivert's wife suspects he is trying to run away with another woman, because he is not in home as expected, also makes her way to airport to stop him, inspite of this being the wedding day of their daughter. A popular Rabbi, Jacob is coming back to France from USA, after 30 years. To evade the killers and the police, Slimane disguises himself and Pivert as the Rabbi and assistant and is soon welcomed by the Jewish family and taken to their locality where Pivert has to act as Rabbi Jacob and Slimane his assistant.

All ingredients for a classic comedy and a classic comedy it is. The movie losses its pace, slightly, towards the end though. But still this is a classic comedy. Mixed identities, mis understandings, innocent man being chased and brilliant match up of plot with slap stick, but what makes this comedy to stand out is the performance of Louis de Funes.  What an actor. His timing, his expressions and his elegance are a level above most of the best comedians I have been acuqainted with so far. I even feel sorry that this actor is not known at all in my country. I wish my fellow country men, especially the young, who are blindly mad after Hollywood, watch Louis de Funes and realise the benchmark for classic comedy may not have been set by the Hollywood.

When I saw Fawlty Towers, I was introduced into Classic British humour and ever since I always thought about John Cleese, playing Basil, as a master of elegant comedy. Louis de Funes could be his French counterpart.

Even after more than 3 decades, L A de Rabbi Jacob can embarass the best of the modern comedies.