Michel Polnareff on Douce France 18 June 1966

I’ve been watching my French music shows again.  Here’s another Polnareff appearance from 1966, promoting La Poupée qui fait non on Douce France (18 June 1966, dir François Chatel) but before we can get to Polnareff I’m afraid you’ll have to endure the rest of the show like I did.  It’s not a brilliant line-up, it has to be said.  Especially as quite a few of the songs were “performed” in playback by an actor called Jacques Ary rather than the original performers.  Not sure if it was a bad week for availability or if the producers actually thought people would be amused by this.

Anyway, let’s start at the beginning:

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The actress Mireille Darc is being driven around by some crazy chap called Roger Vattier – a very prolific French actor who was obviously having a quiet year in 1966.  This opening sequence is kind of reminiscent of Godard’s Week End which was released in 1967, but that might just be a coincidence – even if the show is pretty much a car crash.

Vattier is trying to convince Darc to participate in a musical comedy show or some such but apparently she says she is too frightened to sing.  The sketches they participate in together throughout the show continue in that vein until finally she sings at the end.  A stupid premise for the show, but that’s what we have to work with here.

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The first act up is one of the ones who bothered to show up in person – François Deguelt.  Maybe he should have stayed at home too.  His back-story is that he had represented Monaco in the Eurovision Song Contest twice in 1960 and 1962.  You can tell.  And let’s just say he is old enough to know better than to sing a song like Oui, non, oui.  Non, François, non!

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He looks like a replacement school teacher who is trying to act cool in front of the school kids and can’t quite pull it off.  That’s what I think anyway.  Next!

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I’m guessing this was Jacques Ary pretending to clip the hedges and singing along to the Charles Aznavour track.  I’m not sure I get the point but Mireille Darc looks amused…

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If François Deguelt was trying to act younger than his age, it would seem Mario Lattre is going in the other direction.  He’s a tenor and he dresses and acts like someone far older than his years.  He’s very dull.  The track is called Un sourire et un ciel bleu or something.  I don’t like!

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Antoine was obviously busy campaigning to get the pill on sale in the supermarket so Jacques Ary donned a wig for the occasion and stood in for him – no need to look so happy about it, Jacques!

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Then comes the punch-line: the camera pans back to reveal the extra hand protruding from his chest, holding the harmonica.  Oh, yeah! as Antoine would have said.  Maybe.

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Laura Ulmer provides some relief for me, performing Tous les Garçons ne pensent qu’aux Filles.  She’s a cutie-pie and I don’t mind this song at all.  I don’t recall hearing it on any of the French girls compilation albums but it’s no doubt on one of them and if it’s not, it should be.

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Couldn’t you just eat her?  Thanks, Laura, for making it more bearable.  Mireille and Roger are back and then it’s straight on with some dancing in the park from the ballerina Liane Daydé and the dancer and socialite Jacques Chazot.  How do you become a socialite, I wonder?  I don’t want to become one but I just wonder how you get that added to your CV as a profession.  Anyway:

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It ends when Liane vanishes into thin air and Jacques is left with a handful of rose petals.  One of the perils, I guess.

Où est donc passé Nino Ferrer?  Well, he’s gone AWOL so Jacques Ary will have to do instead.  Here he is looking for Mirza:

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Big bugger, that Mirza, so I’m not sure how he managed to lose him.

Thank god Michel Polnareff bothered to show and saved the day or at the very least the show:

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La Poupée qui fait non never sounded so good.  Shame it had to be followed by some pointless sequence with a scary looking guy (Jacques Ary again?) and a guillotine:

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Still, it’s over fairly quickly this time and then it’s followed by a chap called Georges Ulmer doing a track called Quand l’amour a décidé.  Talk about keeping it in the family, Georges Ulmer is Laura’s daddy.  But no, his track’s not really my cup of tea.

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Jacques Ary does another turn, this time pretending to be a traffic warden dishing out parking tickets.  Sigh!

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Isabelle Aubret is next with a track called Le bonheur.  I know her for doing a Serge Gainsbourg cover and I’ll stick to that thanks.

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Roger and Mireille share a little joke.  I feel left out so I make up my own joke:  it looks like Carol Vorderman bleached her hair and had a bad night’s sleep.  It’s not funny but it’s funnier than Douce France.

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Eddy Mitchell is taking a fag break during the filming of a John Ford western.  Or something.

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Between puffs on his cigar he lip-syncs Fortissimo.  I liked Eddy Mitchell in Alain Jessua’s Frankenstein ’90 (released in 1984) and I don’t mind him as a person but I can’t abide his singing.  Sounds like he is severely backed-up.  Crack open the All Bran, Eddy!

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Finally Roger has convinced Mireille (who I also know for her work with Serge Gainsbourg) to sing a song for us.  It’s quite sweet – Si tu devines.  Not a bad way to end the show.  What do you think, Roger?

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Thought so.  Polnareff was the best though.

Francoise Hardy on Film: L’Homme qui venait du Cher

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.