Director: Jacques Poitrenaud | 95 minutes | comedy | Actors: Dany Saval, Louis de Funès, Maurice Biraud, Robert Manuel, Dora Doll, Gérard Lartigau, Jean Lefebvre, Claude Piéplu, Maria Pacôme, Dany Carrel, André Badin, Bernard Cara, Madeleine Clervanne, Evelyne Dassas
Marcel and Francis are burglars of the most patient kind. They break into rich countrymen and take their time to crack the vaults. Then they take up their double life at ease, because family and friends are of course not allowed to know anything about it. However professional and patient Marcel and Francis are, their criminal careers are hardly profitable. What is missing from their two-man organization is a mastermind. This unexpectedly presents itself during a burglary, in the form of a beautiful blonde.
From the moment that blonde makes her appearance, the already smooth crime comedy ‘Un drôle de caïd’ (also known as’ Une souris chez les hommes) gains even more momentum. We go from one farcical situation to the next, in a succession of dress-up parties, personality changes and misunderstandings, eventually ending in a slapstick spectacle on ice (without skates).
‘Un drôle de caïd’ is one of the five films to which the legendary Louis de Funès gave his character head in 1964. Yet this farce is not a typical Funès story, but rather an ensemble film. As a balanced partner in crime Francis, Maurice Biraud offers a counterbalance to the funes’ cymbals. The greatest asset is actress Dany Saval, who, as a brand new criminal, combines innocence and youthful bravado with a practical kind of intelligence. Moreover, she has a nicely measured scream and legs that start somewhere but end nowhere.
A 21st-century person who watches this film may be surprised at a number of things. That there was already camera surveillance in supermarkets in 1964. That an actress in a French mainstream farce walks around in a translucent nightfall. But especially that somewhere halfway through the story an unexpected cinematic joke emerges, a frivolity that you would only expect in the post-modern future.
Of course, not everything is equally enjoyable about ‘Un drôle de caïd’, but the film has survived the years remarkably well. A funny story and timeless humor are sufficient. And of course the eternal message that crime doesn’t pay. Or is it?