(director/writer: Pierre Etaix; screenwriter: Jean-Louis Carriere; cinematographer: Jean Boffety; editor: Henri Lanoe; music: Jean Pailland; cast: Pierre Etaix (The Millionaire/Yo Yo), Luce Klein (The Equestrienne), Claudine Auger (Isolina), Philippe Dionet (YoYo as a child); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Claudon; Janus; 1965-France-in French with English subtitles-B/W)
“Though Etaix shows off his many talents and makes things amusing, the film is too fragmented and the story remains undeveloped.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A sophisticated French comedy by director/co-writer with Jean-Louis Carriere/and star Pierre Etaix (“The Suitor”/”As Long As You’re Healthy”). Though it’s a sentimental tale, Etaix masterfully keeps it under wraps and lets its comical moments freely flow. The first part is set like a silent, with no dialogue, in 1925, as Etaix plays a bored, lonely wealthy aristocrat living on a vast estate and surrounded by many servants. The wealthy man pines for his lost love circus equestrienne girlfriend (Luce Klein), who tours the country with her young son (Philippe Dionet). One day the millionaire hires a circus to perform at his castle and he meets again his girlfriend. She tells him the child traveling with her his son (Philippe Dionet), and he gives him a Yo Yo before they leave. In 1929 talkies are invented and the film now becomes a talky. It’s also when the NY Stock Market crash ruins him. The former millionaire abandons his home and teams up with the bareback rider and clown kid to form a traveling circus. When grown up Yoyo (played again by Etaix) goes his own way as a clown. In 1939 he’s captured and imprisoned by the Germans while performing for the troops. After World War II the unharmed Yoyo becomes an international sensation working in the circus and on television, he also becomes very wealthy in the novelty business. Yoyo spends a fortune to restore the castle that went to seed when abandoned, and throws a big party there for his parents. But rather than live there they choose instead to continue touring with their circus act, which makes them happy and able to lead a rich life. Yoyo envies them, as his life is empty without a lover and he suffers even though his career is successful and he has become very rich.The forgotten comedian, overlooked in the days of home videos, was rediscovered when his films were restored and were well-received at festivals. Though unique, Etaix seems to borrow his sight gags and visual humor from silent comedians such as Keaton, Chaplin and Lloyd. He can also be favorably compared with his fellow contemporary French comedian Jacques Tati. Though Etaix shows off his many talents and makes things amusing, the film is too fragmented and the story remains undeveloped. It’s good in parts but as a whole it is uneven.
REVIEWED ON 8/8/2017 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/