Francoise Hardy and French pop in Continental Film Review

Found this article about French pop in Continental Film Review (October 1964) – Françoise Hardy gets a good review, obviously:

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Point de chute – or the day I started to identify with Johnny Hallyday

Point de chute (Falling Point) is the first film I ever saw with Robert Hossein as director. I thought it was wonderful – even if it did star Johnny Hallyday. I’ve never been a fan of Hallyday’s but it seems he really is a rather good actor. I had already seen him in Patrice Leconte’s L’Homme du train (The Man on the Train) and he was excellent in that too. It’s a pity he didn’t prioritise his acting career over his music.

Anyway, this film is one of my favourite films now and it made me seek out other films directed by Robert Hossein. I’ve seen a few – there’s no doubt he’s a real talent as both an actor and a director. I read somewhere, though, that Point de chute was a rip-off of another movie – Hubert Cornfield’s film of 1968 (pre-dating Point de chute by two years) The Night of the Following Day. I took a look at the plot summary of this film and it certainly sounds very similar but I can’t imagine that it could actually be a better film than Point de chute – it seems to be more sordid and brutal. Point de chute is a film of subtleties; it’s very sensitive. Actually, it’s perfect.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it after I saw it and when I later saw Robert Hossein’s 1969 film Un corde, un colt (The Rope and the Colt) with a very similar escape scene (a red haired lady running through the sand) and the crumbling of food at the dinner table, it reminded me of Point de chute and I decided I should write something about it. It’s been a long time coming but here it is finally:

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* SPOILER ALERT * The article below contains the entire plot of the film

The plot summary is that a gang of criminals kidnap the daughter of a wealthy man and demand a ransom. The girl is taken to a cabin on a deserted beach until the ransom has been the paid. One of the criminals, Vlad, is appointed to keep an eye on the girl whilst the other gang members make contact with the family and organise delivery of the ransom. Vlad and the girl wait patiently for payment to be made – once payment has been received she will be freed and he will also be able to leave the isolation of the cabin. But the girl sees Vlad without his disguise on and so the gang leader has decided that it is too dangerous to let her go once the ransom has been paid. Vlad, who they hold responsible for this incident, will have to kill the girl. The ransom is a long time in coming though and Vlad and the girl slowly develop an understanding of each other. This makes it impossible for Vlad to kill the girl and when the gang turn up with his share of the ransom money they find the girl still alive. Vlad won’t let the gang kill her and he turns his gun instead on the gang. He lets the girl go free and takes the gang leader’s car so he can escape himself. But the car won’t start and as Vlad heads off along the beach on foot, the gang leader takes a rifle from the car and shoots Vlad in the back. The girl, hearing the gun shot and seeing Vlad collapse, runs back to him and is subsequently shot herself. They try to reach other by crawling through the sand and are within a hand’s reach of other when they die.

There are five main characters in the story: Johnny Hallyday is Vlad (also known as the Romanian); Pascale Rivault is the girl; Robert Hossein is the boss; Albert Minski is Eddy (the other gang member); Robert Dalban is the Inspector.

The story is basic enough but it’s the way Robert Hossein, as director, manages to draw the spectator into the narrative and gets you to identify with the characters that makes it so good. The film is shot in both colour and black and white – the significance of this becomes clear as the story develops. The black and white sequences are events following the deaths of the two main protagonists – Vlad and the girl – and are confined to the police inspector and his investigations. The colour scenes are flashbacks to the kidnapping and the events leading up to the deaths. The flashbacks contain information that the inspector is not privy to and may never know but the black and white sequences act as an aid to assist us with our journey through the story.

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The film starts with a black and white sequence where the police inspector enters the cabin on the beach. He sees books, beer cans, a flute, masks and a radio. He notices bullet holes in the door.

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The two masks here resemble the two dead protagonists at the end of the film

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Then he goes upstairs to a room where he finds some crumpled up notes on the floor. He reads the notes to himself and we hear his inner voice: “How long are they going to keep me here? I’m afraid.” and “They locked me in the attic. I’m cold. I don’t know how long they’re going to keep me here. I feel sick.” He finds a notebook hidden under the mattress and reads what is written – “I have to find a way out. I don’t know how to do it with that horrible guy downstairs. I can see him between the door’s planks.”

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The police inspector then closes the door and looks through the hole in the door.

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The main story is cued by the inspector’s reading of “I can see him between the door’s planks” and the act of looking through the hole – the next scene is in colour and it is a girl looking through the hole.

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Is the inspector trying to identify with the hostage? And are we, as spectator, identifying with the inspector? At this point we don’t know quite where we’re situated – we know less than the inspector knows because we do not know the reason the police are investigating on the beach. But we hope that his investigations will lead us through the entire story – as it turns out we only identify with the inspector in the respect that he is looking to solve the mystery of what happened to the girl and we also want to know what happened. We have identified with him to a certain extent – seeing the items on the table as he saw them (from his point of view) and we have also been privy to his inner voice when he read the notes out to himself – but on one occasion when the inspector reads the girl’s notebooks the internal sound we hear is of the girl herself reading it out. From this point forward the information we witness as spectator is more detailed and differs to the information available to the inspector.

The narration is, on the whole, unrestricted. As a spectator we know and see more than anyone else. We see things that Vlad does not see and we see things that the girl does not see. We know more than the inspector. In order to identify with the two protagonists we need to see and hear what they see and hear. But we’re not identifying with just one of the protagonists, spectator placement alternates between the two characters and we identify with both of them – and, interestingly, they begin to identify with each other too.

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The narrative is not completely unrestricted – we never learn whether the girl’s dad called the police; we don’t know what the boss and Eddy are doing away from the cabin. Our views shift constantly between Vlad and the girl, seeing their external behaviour and also shots from their point of view or sound perspective. I would argue that we identify slightly more with Vlad than the girl (we never even learn her name) because we go into his mind more – when he imagines the girl at school and when he imagines her running along the beach. We know from accessing his fantasy visions that he is thinking about the girl’s life, the life she led, and that he can see her smiling at him and then in fear of him: he knows from reading her note book that she thinks he is nice but she will surely be afraid of him when she realises he has to kill her. This fantasy sequence reveals the strong probability that he will actually be incapable of killing her.

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We know how the girl feels from a combination of her external behaviour – she is often seen crying, she appears to be afraid – and the insights we gain from her writing in her note book; that Vlad goes from being “the horrible guy downstairs” to being “nice”. Subtle clues to a growing identification are also provided by the looks exchanged between the two characters. One of the first incidents involving the girl identifying with Vlad takes place early on in the film, when she takes Vlad’s mask and tries it on: in one gesture both taking on his personality – this is your mask, I am wearing it to identify with you – and also losing her own identity, which is of course what Vlad hoped to achieve by wearing the mask.

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There’s no real reason for her to do this and, in fact, it makes Vlad angry – he slaps her – but is he angry because she has seen him without the mask or because she is wearing the mask? We don’t know. Interestingly, once the girl has tried his mask on, Vlad goes upstairs and reads her school reports and notebooks – enabling him to get into her mind. Of course this is a mistake but Vlad does not realise this at the time.

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The film is about looking – so it’s appropriate that Vlad should imagine the girl at school with a telescope

Once we have seen the kidnap sequence, the story order is on the whole chronological until Vlad is given the order that when the time comes he will need to kill the girl. At this point there is a second black and white scene with the inspector in the present tense; but this is the inspector’s final appearance until the protagonists’ deaths when he reappears to signify the end of story.

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The kidnap sequence is interesting from an identification point of view. The kidnap is standard – they follow the girl home from school and execute the kidnap when the chauffeur gets out of the car to open the gates to the family’s mansion home. The incident is seen from two perspectives – an unrestricted external view, followed by the girl’s subjective point of view. This is not quite a point-of-view sequence because although we see her perspective of the chauffeur going to the gate and the car arriving, the shot then alternates to an objective one as we see the surprise on her face and then it briefly returns to her perspective before changing to the chauffeur’s point of view as the car races towards him. It then returns to her perspective as she looks on but when we see her running it is no longer from her perceptual visual space. As the chloroform starts to overcome her we see an approximation of her view – slowly becoming more and more blurry – but this is clearly from an external stand point. It’s obvious we are supposed to identify with the girl – but with the added advantage of seeing and knowing more than she does.

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Second view of the kidnapping – point of view shots:Falling Point 23Falling Point 24Objective shot:Falling Point 25Point of view shot:Falling Point 26Objective shot:Falling Point 27Chauffeur’s point of view shot:Falling Point 28Objective shots:Falling Point 29Falling Point 30

Shot from external stand point but representing the girl’s visual experience:

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Although we often see the characters looking through the hole in the door and experience their views of each other, we are reminded that we know more than both of these characters when the girl tries to escape by climbing out of the window. We see her legs dangling from the roof and we also see the man outside – she doesn’t know he is outside and he doesn’t know she is trying to escape.

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Vlad’s reactions to the girl’s escape attempts are of interest too. Instead of being angry on this occasion he just looks at her and she instinctively knows that she must go back to her room.

A later attempt at escape is seen as sport – when the girl runs past Vlad who is sitting in the car listening to the radio, he doesn’t even hurry to give chase. He does not appear to be annoyed at all and in fact smiles broadly before running after her. Again, when she falls she knows she must get up and go back to the cabin.

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Whilst the chase might not be the “romantic walk by the sea” that the boss suggests, Vlad certainly seemed to enjoy it.

I should say, too, that sound and music are of great importance in this film. Even when there is no music, the film is saturated with loud sounds of the sea and sea birds. The soundtrack is provided by Robert Hossein’s father, André Hossein, and is perfect for the film. Given that we bring to the film our knowledge that Johnny Hallyday is a musician, it’s not surprising that his character should be playing some music in the film – reinforcing a sense of identification with the character.

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The girl sees Vlad through the hole in the door as he plays his flute but this music – at this point, part of the film’s plot – later becomes part of the non-diegetic soundtrack, appearing within the film as a commentary. So when Vlad is told to stay downstairs whilst the boss and Eddy torture the girl to make a tape of her screaming, this piece of music reminds us: this is Vlad’s song, he played this when he was sitting alone before.

We know very little about the two main characters – all we know is that the girl is from a wealthy family and that Vlad is a criminal – not a first timer, we know he has worked with this gang before. On the surface they would seem to have little in common. And yet somehow there are parallels and reasons for them to identify with each other – they have both been thrown into this situation together and they are both locked away in the cabin and wanting to get out. They are both waiting. They also have a musical motif – a certain piece of non-diegetic music is played during key scenes with and about the two characters.

The first occurrence of this musical motif is when Vlad reads the girl’s school reports and imagines her at school. The second occurrence of the musical motif follows the incident with the beach party revellers – Vlad and the girl watch together from the door as a gang of people laugh and dance on the beach. There is a mirroring of body language as they both stand in the doorway together, watching, both imprisoned in the cabin against their wills – the girl as a hostage and Vlad as the one chosen by the gang to be exiled in this way.

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After the party people have gone, Vlad and the girl sit together at the table downstairs and this is when the musical motif appears. This is one of the most beautiful sequences for me in terms of identification and the way the two protagonists feel in each other’s company. Vlad eats an apple in silence and subtly pushes a sandwich towards the girl. They only look at each other when the other is looking away – there appears to be an embarrassment between the two of them. The girl hesitates for some time before crumbling off a tiny piece of the sandwich and playing with it before coyly putting the crumb in her mouth. Vlad watches her. The girl takes another tiny bit of the sandwich, fiddles with it and twists it between her fingers. She looks so sad at that moment and has tears in her eyes – she looks at Vlad and he looks away. She puts her head down on the table crying as Vlad looks at her, when she looks up he is still looking at her but again catching her gaze he looks away. She eventually runs up to her room in tears.

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Eddy and the boss had indicated that the method of creating a recording of the kidnapped person physically suffering is “tried and tested in America”. Although Vlad dissuaded the boss from continuing with the recording and using it, it does not stop the girl from using the tried and tested method on Vlad by repeatedly playing her own excruciatingly loud blood-curdling screams on the tape player. It works a treat. From the girl’s external behaviour it is obvious she is trying to get a reaction out of Vlad – she even looks at the hole to check if he is looking towards the room and smiles when she is playing it, until eventually he shouts to her that he’s had enough. The girl gets what she had wanted – a reaction and Vlad’s presence in the room.

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This is another sequence with the musical motif – a shared moment of identification: Vlad looks at the atlas; the girl looks at Vlad; Vlad looks at the girl; Vlad sits down looking at the book; Vlad looks at the girl; the musical motif kicks in; Vlad looks at the girl; the girl looks at Vlad; Vlad looks at the girl; the girl looks at Vlad; Vlad looks at the girl; the girls looks back and almost smiles. Vlad smiles to himself and says out loud: “Hey, I know that place!”; Vlad laughs and looks at the girl; the girl looks away but she is smiling. Vlad sees the girl smiling, stops reading and leaves the room. At the point he drops the atlas the music stops. The moment is over.

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It is at this point that he goes outside with the flute to play the same sad song that indicates his loneliness there. It’s befitting that at this point he receives the message informing him that he has one hour to kill the girl as the boss and Eddy are coming to collect him with his share of the ransom. As Vlad takes the shovel to dig a hole for the girl’s body Vlad’s theme plays non-diegetically.

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Vlad’s identification with the girl proves to be his downfall. So strongly does he identify with her that he even dictates a letter to her written by him on her behalf in first person; instead of saying to the girl, “”Write that you are okay and that you’ll be freed when the ransom’s paid,” he gives her his pen to write with and says: “My dear daddy, I’m alright. They didn’t hurt me…” etc

The girl’s belief that Vlad is not like “the other two”, that he is different and not totally aligned to their way of working – nice, even – is validated at this point. So strong is the girl’s belief that Vlad will not kill her, even when she knows the time has come, she follows Vlad outside to the beach and heads towards the hole. They even share another moment of mirroring of body language as they both look up to the sky at the same moment , their gazes following the same course until they share a look. As she pushes some of the sand into the hole with her foot, Vlad raises the gun as if to shoot but she turns and without even flinching or showing any fear she almost smiles and declares: “I’m hungry!” At this point the musical motif recommences and Vlad puts the gun away, the girl smiles and walks towards him.

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What follows does not appear to make any sense – time is running out for Vlad and the girl but there she stands eating a sandwich and smiling: the last meal. It is perhaps their innocence that allows them to share these final moments – Vlad getting sprayed with beer when he opens a can and them both laughing about this – as the boss’s car pulls up.

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Vlad is indeed incapable of killing her but also unable to allow the boss and Eddy to kill her; this throws them together further in the conflict as he now puts his own neck on the line. With this development Vlad aligns himself with the girl and this seals his fate – the gang want the girl dead and they also want Vlad dead too.

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The final sequence of their story is heart-breakingly sad – Vlad repeatedly tells the girl to go away before telling the boss and Eddy: “I’m sorry. I didn’t want things to be like this. It’s not my fault, you left me alone with her too long.”

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At 69 minutes into the film the boss finally removes his dark glasses – to shoot Vlad – and although it’s not much of a disguise it’s the first time we have seen his eyes and his full identity

Although the girl has a head start she stops when she hears an altercation between Vlad and Eddy and again when she hears the boss shoot Vlad in the back

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The musical motif recommences for this final part of the film where the girl starts running towards Vlad, despite the fact that she too is putting herself in the firing line, and it signals the end for her. The boss shoots the girl and flees the scene.

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At this point the musical motif stops. Then moments later it recommences as Vlad and the girl, dying, look at each other and try to reach each other by dragging themselves along in the sand. They just reach each other and the girl suddenly drops dead.  The music stops at this point.

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There is no real sense of finality in terms of the investigation – will the inspector find out what we know? Will he find the boss and Eddy? What are the final consequences? But it doesn’t matter now as the two characters we identify with – the ones we spent time alone with – are now dead.

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Robert Dalban, who had previously been in H-G Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques, which also featured a very young Johnny Hallyday

I doubt very much that Marlon Brando in The Night of the Following Day would have moved me as much as Johnny Hallyday did in this film. He was excellent. It surely must be the best thing he has ever done. And Pascale Rivault – what a great actress she was and so beautiful too.

If you’ve not already seen Point de chute I have no doubt totally ruined it for you by telling you everything about it – sowwy! (although you were warned with the spoiler notice…) – but I would say see it for yourself anyway. I’ve seen it 3 times now and it gets the same reaction from me every time – I have to have the hankies at the ready!

I hope this article hasn’t been too much “all over the place” – there is so much to say about Point de chute but it’s quite hard to rein in your enthusiasm. Excuse me if it’s a bit free-form in places.

Other things I should tell you about the film:

  • Point de chute means stopping-off point or falling point – a very appropriate name for the film
  • Filming took place over 6 weeks at a beach near Royan in the south-west of France
  • The kidnap sequence took place at the Château de la Roche Courbon (also in the south-west of France)

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Tete de bois et tendres annees 25 May 1966

I realised I can’t just call these articles “Michel Polnareff on TV…” because there are times when a French music show just has too many good bands on it to be able to leave them out of the post.  So this is kind of a “Michel Polnareff on TV” post but it’s also about Antoine et les Problèmes, Christophe and Les 5 Gentlemen.  There’s a lot to say about this show.  Let’s start at the beginning with the credits – very nice they are too:

Tete de bois 1 Tete de bois 2 Tete de bois 3 Tete de bois 4 Tete de bois 5 Tete de bois 6 Tete de bois 7 Tete de bois 8 Tete de bois 9 Tete de bois 10 Tete de bois 11 Tete de bois 12 Tete de bois 13 Tete de bois 14First up, this Albert Raisner guy and his harmonica – he seems to bring it with him everywhere so he can get in on the action.  He looks a bit too old for introducing this kind of show to the stubborn and young people as well!

I like this next bit, although the “bomb” didn’t go off or even knock the letters down:

Tete de bois 15Tete de bois 16The first band on were Les Knack with Serre-moi la main.  It was okay but not really my cup of tea – a bit of a sub-Beatles, R&B type beat band:

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If Les Knack were not my cup of tea, well, the next bit would have got thrown out with the slops as far as I’m concerned.  It was a medley of bits and bobs sung by Johnny Hallyday and Petula Clark.  I can’t stand Petula Clark – there’s something about her that is very middle-aged and very prim and proper, and just plain dull.  The word brio springs to mind when I think of her, in a negative way – I’d rather hear Jane Birkin stumbling over her words in French with her English accent than Petula’s over-enthusiastic approach to French pronunciation any day.  The less said about this the better really:Tete de bois 21Now, the spat between Antoine and Johnny Hallyday has been well documented, but this programme seems to have been some kind of showdown for them.  With Johnny taking it all far more seriously than Antoine ever could or ever would.  Next up was Antoine singing an adapted version of Les élucubrations – the offending song in which he suggests that Johnny Hallyday should be locked up in a cage at the Medrano circus.  To keep the peace, or just for fun, who knows, Antoine sings instead that Albert Raisner should be locked up in the cage at the Medrano instead:

Tete de bois 22 Tete de bois 23Antoine is wearing a plastic coat – maybe he was expecting some spitting from the audience.  Or from Johnny.

Next up, Monty with L’Île de Beauté.  Again, not 100% my cup of tea but it’s catchy and gets everyone in the audience singing.  Not bad really, a bit bluesy with a Spencer Davis Group kind of sound.  Anyway, he’s quite a charming fellow:

Tete de bois 24 Tete de bois 25Something well worth a look next: the super-cool Christophe performing one of my favourite tracks Excusez-moi, Monsieur le Professeur.  Apparently Christophe’s lost his way, but he’ll be back tomorrow.  Let’s hope so, or we’ll miss him.  What a stylish so-and-so he was with his Dennis Hopper looks and his great suits.  He’s one of my favourites for sure.Tete de bois 26 Tete de bois 27What a come down to have Miss Petula Clark on next, but at least it’s with something fairly decent – L’Amour avec un grand A:Tete de bois 28No fights have broken out between Johnny and Antoine – yet… – so Albert Raisner tries to set one up between Antoine and his Problems instead:Tete de bois 29 Tete de bois 30 Tete de bois 31Raisner puts them in a boxing ring and they battle it out with Les contre-élucubrations problématiques.  Despite all the goading, Antoine’s not having any of it: “You can, of course, tease me, but if your mothers had known about the pill you would not be here getting on my nerves”.  What a shame this is not in colour – it would be far more spectacular, I’m sure.

Unfortunately Johnny Hallyday’s next and Antoine’s laughing “hé, hé, hé” must have wound him up even more because he’s going for first blood – and he’s not even in the boxing ring with Antoine so he has to do it with words instead.  I bet Antoine was shaking in his Chelsea boots when he heard Johnny singing Cheveux longs et idées courtes, which translates as “long hair and short ideas”.  It’s a pathetic little song aimed at Antoine in retaliation for the Medrano comment, made in passing but obviously deeply felt by the much-loved Johnny.  Did it hurt him so much that Antoine didn’t love him too?  I guess so, otherwise he wouldn’t have had to pay a lyricist to write such absurd words for him about how having long hair is not in itself enough to change the world.  Who ever said it was?  Childish, Johnny, very childish.  And it’s only you who ends up looking the fool:

Tete de bois 32Albert Raisner’s itching to get his harmonica out so he sneaks up on Johnny at the end and joins in:Tete de bois 33Before you know it Petula’s publicist husband must have pulled a few strings because she’s in on the action as well.  Albert has to lend her his miniature harmonica:

Tete de bois 34 Tete de bois 35Albert makes sure Petula gives him his tiny mouth organ back straight away though.  Don’t want to lose that little beauty, Albert.

Next, the little Tête de bois cartoon character is giving renditions of a few songs in a Pinky & Perky type vocal fashion.  It’s amusing for a few seconds.  Tete de bois 36The best thing is Tête de bois version of Antoine with its long hair:

Tete de bois 37Next is Audrey with Les amours d’artistes – terribly dull and it seems out of place on the show:

Tete de bois 38Albert Raisner just won’t let the Antoine / Johnny fight thing go away, so he sits between them and starts out innocently asking Johnny about Protest Songs and about Bob Dylan.  Antoine quietly shows his disagreement with Johnny’s opinion on all of this with a shake of the finger.  You get the impression it’s not going to end there.

Tete de bois 39 Tete de bois 40 Tete de bois 41Dylan’s not on the show himself, so they just show some footage of him over in Europe being mobbed and then introduce the band Les 5 Gentlemen who were a French garage punk type band and I’m a bit of a fan, so that’s all good with me.  I’d rather see and hear them than Dylan and his nasal offerings any day.  What a rare treat to see this band doing a rather good cover version of The Sandals’ Tell Us Dylan, translated into French and called Dis-nous Dylan:Tete de bois 42 Tete de bois 43Johnny pipes up again about how he likes Dylan but he’s just sorry that Antoine doesn’t have his talent.  Ooh!  But at least Antoine can write his own lyrics and he doesn’t just “sit on his backside with his arms crossed” and pay someone else to do it for him!  If Petula Clark’s got Johnny’s back (see her less than subtle squeeze of the arm as he makes his catty comment), I’ve got Antoine’s – bring it on, Hallyday!Tete de bois 44Raisner diplomatically comments that that’s just an opinion.  It is – it’s just Johnny Hallyday’s opinion and that was probably written for him by someone else as well.  Yeah, I mean business, people!

To wash away the bad taste in the mouth that all this bickering leaves, Christophe pops up dressed as a cowboy.  Quite nice, but I thought he looked rather lovely in a suit myself:

Tete de bois 45 Tete de bois 46Christophe’s singing La Camargue whilst on horseback.  No, really.  Well, okay then it’s a pretend horse and I’m not sure I approve of Christophe doing this kind of thing.  I’m in two minds – either it’s too silly for someone as cool as him, or he’s so cool he can do stupid stuff like that and it doesn’t matter.  I still love him anyway, so it’s obviously not put me off:

Tete de bois 47After that there’s a cutesy little song from Chantal Kelly with (I think) Monty on guest vocals – Notre Prof’ d’Anglais:Tete de bois 48 Tete de bois 49This track’s been on at least a couple of those French pop compilation albums.  She seems quite sweet.  I like it.

Next up, the one I’ve been waiting for – Michel Polnareff.  It’s his second TV appearance doing La Poupée qui fait non.  This performance is from outside the studio in a club called the Top Ten or something like that.  The idea is they show footage of young French kids out clubbing in Paris and the provinces.  Tete de bois 50On this occasion Polnareff is there doing a playback, surrounded by young kids – one kid in particular appears to be in love with him, looking at him with hungry eyes and singing along with all the words:Tete de bois 51 Tete de bois 52 Tete de bois 53 Tete de bois 54 Tete de bois 55 Tete de bois 56 Tete de bois 57 Tete de bois 58Antoine’s back next, escaping Hallyday’s evil clutches, taking his chances on Une autre autoroute.  He does a nice job of it – it’s such a good track with a lovely bit of guitar playing on it:Tete de bois 59 Tete de bois 60 Tete de bois 61There’s no show-boating for Antoine but then again he’s not taking any chances on the harmonica front, what with Albert Raisner being in the vicinity and champing at the bit to join in when and wherever possible; Antoine brought his own blues harp with.

Talking of show-boating…Tete de bois 62Johnny gets in a four-piece backing band and a group of dancers to liven up his performance of Jusqu’à minuit.  He does a bit of Clo-Clo style dancing himself as well, hoping to out-shine Antoine and his brilliant but understated jerky dancing, no doubt.  Never mind, Antoine, Johnny was always going to make sure he had the last word on this whatever happened.

Petula has been missing the limelight too, so she gets to introduce the smiley, chirpy singer and alleged wartime collaborator Charles Trenet who sings La Tarantelle de Caruso (I think):Tete de bois 63Petula can’t stay away for long; she’s such a limelight hogger that even the dancers try to kick her as she sings Si tu prenais le temps:Tete de bois 64 Tete de bois 65And that’s your lot, aside from the credits which were sung by Monty, Petula Clark, Johnny Hallyday and Charles Trenet.  Nice little touch that and what a fun show.Tete de bois 66 Tete de bois 67

One last thing – Johnny Hallyday, you were great in Robert Hossein’s film Point de chute and I salute you for this, but please leave little Antoine alone.  Thank you!

My Favourite Stuff: La pilule – Antoine

I’m a big fan of Antoine and Antoine et les Problèmes – great look (like a human Banana Split); great dance moves; great lyrics; and a great philosophy of life too.  Definitely a lot more than the joke most people take him for.  Anyway, this little item here is a rather wonderful (if somewhat aged and dirty looking) Antoine keyring, which appears to have been made by Disques Vogue as a novelty publicity item to tie in with Les Elucubrations d’Antoine, a song in which Antoine sings about being asked by the President how he could improve the country; Antoine’s suggestion was to put the pill on sale in the Monoprix supermarkets.  This caused a bit of a stir at the time, of course – it was 1966 and times were different then.

But then, as Antoine said, everything should change all the time – we might be able to get the pill over the counter in pharmacies nowadays but we have yet to see Johnny Hallyday in a cage at the zoo!

The keyring was yet another find from the flea market at St. Ouen.  Here’s a couple of other views of the keyring with an absolutely dreadful sketch of Antoine with his long hair and flowery shirt and you can just about see the blue “pill” rolling about inside the box there.  The sticker on the box helpfully says “Not to be taken internally” – just in case.  You never know…

I’ll definitely be including some more Antoine items on here at some point in the future as I have some nice vinyl in Italian to show off, o yeah!