For the second part of Françoise Hardy on Film we have L’Homme qui venait du Cher (dir Maurice Dumay, 1969). This film is a little bit of a mystery to me because I haven’t yet been able to see it in full. It’s a French TV movie, more a music special really, which has been made as a sort of comedy western from what I can gather. It’s supposed to run at 55 minutes, but I have only seen 28 minutes of the film and what I have seen is pretty nonsensical really.
I signed up to Melody TV online to try and see the entire film as it shows up on their programmes list, but unfortunately it appears to be currently unavailable; I just have to hope that one day they will repeat it and I will be able to see the film in its entirety. With a cast including Antoine and some of his colleagues from Les Problèmes, here under the guise of Les Charlots (not really my cup of tea, I’d much rather have a Problem than a Clown…), as well as Françoise Hardy and the wonderful Aphrodite’s Child, this is a film I really want in my collection. Instead I had to make do with snippets from the film that someone had filmed on their TV set and then uploaded to YouTube; they should be thanked for this service of course, but sometimes the image moves out of frame and with there being another 27 minutes or so of the film missing it ends up becoming quite frustrating to watch. And sometimes the sound is terrible too. O dear…
Another complaint, this time aimed at the director/DOP, whilst I appreciate the fact that it’s hard work to film entire sequences in what appears to be just one uninterrupted take, it’s not necessary to shoot nearly all of the scene in extreme long shot or long shot (see Béla Tarr for details!) so you can’t even tell who the character is. Is this Françoise Hardy? Qui peut dire?
Well, it is. Apparently.
I can’t really share the plot with you, as such, as I’m not entirely sure what was happening. As things stand I didn’t see Antoine at all, except as a poster:
So I’m not sure what Antoine did in the film. In fact, it’s not quite clear what Françoise’s role is either, but I was rather pleased to see her entering a church where Aphrodite’s Child perform End of the World (one of my favourites). She just sits and watches them in silence:
When the track ends, she leaves the church immediately. Maybe she was concerned, perhaps with good cause – basically, if a big hairy man says to you, “You should come with me to the end of the world, without telling your parents and your friends,” it’s probably best if you don’t go. I would though – to quote Beverly in Abigail’s Party, “I like Demis Roussos.”
After the pleasures of Aphrodite’s Child, poor old Françoise goes outside and has to endure Eddy Mitchell singing at a podium:
Now, you’ll notice that there’s a strange symbol on the podium there – arrows pointing in opposite directions. There was also a symbol with arrows on the Aphrodite’s Child drum kit:
And earlier in the film, a gang rode up on motorbikes and sprayed this symbol on a barn door for no apparent reason:
And this symbol was in another scene:
I have to say, yet again, I haven’t the foggiest idea what all this means. I ceased to notice the symbols after a while anyway, so it ceased to bother me.
Anyway, next up Françoise serves tea to a group of men:
And then she leaves a building, singing Comment te dire adieu and is abducted by a gang of men on motorbikes:
The chap on the motorbike doesn’t look best-pleased (is it Herbert Léonard? I’m not 100% sure). But after walking past Memphis Slim, who is playing piano and singing outside an old house, Eddy Mitchell comes to the rescue and beats up all the gang and frees Françoise who was tied up and left in a room upstairs. Eddy takes Françoise by the hand and tries to drive her away in a car which doesn’t appear to want to start. Then the film ends suddenly:
What does it all mean? I just don’t know. And what does any of this have to do with Cher anyway?
This is not exactly a piece of excellent film-making, more like a fun TV special. A few more close-shots wouldn’t have gone amiss either. Anyway, if I ever get my hands on a full-length better quality copy I’ll update this. And maybe the next Françoise Hardy on Film will be something a bit more serious.