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:

Tete de bois 17 Tete de bois 18 Tete de bois 19 Tete de bois 20

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!

Francoise Hardy on Film: Questo Pazzo, Pazzo Mondo Della Canzone

Questo Pazzo, Pazzo Mondo Della Canzone (Dir Bruno Corbucci and Gianni Grimaldi, 1965)

Basic plot:  There isn’t one.  This film (in the version I have) comprises 21 musical tracks interspersed with humorous sketches.

Cast: Actors – Margaret Lee; Sandra Mondaini; Valeria Fabrizi; Aroldo Tieri; Alberto Bonucci; Vittorio Congia; Dana Ghia; Umberto D’Orsi; Halina Zalewska; Jenny Luna; Marina Morgan; Andrea Aureli; Nino Fuscagni. Musical Acts – Françoise Hardy; Petula Clark; Lucio Dalla; Dino; Roby Ferrante; Nico Fidenco; Remo Germani; Riky Gianco; I Flippers; Udo Jürgens; La Cricca; Los Marcellos Ferial; Jenny Luna; Gianni Morandi; Gino Paoli; Rosy; Luigi Tenco; Edoardo Vianello; Little Tony

Availability:   Available through Amazon UK as an Italian Import DVD, with no subtitles.  It costs about £15 plus postage.  The thing to note about this DVD is that on IMDB it states a running time of 103 minutes, but the DVD runs at 84 minutes.  It’s obvious that some of the footage has been cut but I’m not sure why.  There is a photograph of the actress Margaret Lee on the back cover of the DVD but the scene itself does not appear on the DVD and therefore has presumably been cut.  Also, on IMDB it states that “30 Italian singers from the sixties sing their hits” – as previously stated there are just 21 tracks on the DVD and these are performed by, I believe, 19 acts; some of these are, of course, not Italian!

The film in full – *SPOILER ALERT*:  I hardly think this film outline could spoil anything as it’s not really a narrative movie, but just in case anyone complains…

Right, I can’t speak Italian – I can understand the odd word or two just because there are similarities with other languages, but let’s just make it clear that I understood very little of the sketches between the songs.  The reason I bought the DVD was because of Françoise Hardy’s appearance and because of the British actress Margaret Lee, who is a favourite of mine.  See my interview with Margaret Lee on my other website, Du dumme Sau! – as a regular co-star alongside Klaus Kinski I had every reason to interview this beautiful actress for my Kinski website and it was a great pleasure for me to get such an opportunity.

Anyway, back to Questo Pazzo, Pazzo Mondo Della Canzone, as far as I can tell it means something like “the mad, mad world of song”, but don’t quote me on it because I have no Italian.  In any case, it would be an appropriate title because the film is absolutely crazy, although in a good way.  The sketches, I can only guess, appear to be very much of their time and maybe the humour is also very Italian – they involve farting noises, tripping up, lots of face slapping, overacting, shouting, and the vast majority seem to be on the subject of adultery.  But Margaret Lee is the highlight as far as the sketches are concerned for me even if she is only in 2 of them that feature on the DVD.  In the first she runs a man over in her car and in the second her husband catches her kissing another man.  Nothing to stretch her acting abilities here, but she just looks so good!

That’s all I can say as far as the sketches go, so let’s move onto the music instead.  Yes, this film is being reviewed as a film featuring Françoise Hardy, but I’m actually going to take all the songs in order. Please note that I have, largely, had to guess the track listing as the credits do not tie in with the actual footage and there is at least one instance where I’m not sure which band it is, so excuse any errors:

Lucio Dalla – Ma questa sera:  This represents value for money.  What more can you want from a music clip than a blind man with a monkey and a banana on his shoulder; a guy who sings really, really high-pitched oooohhhs; smoking dancers; and something that looks like a Sheila scopitone being projected onto the singer’s t-shirt?  This video is fascinating.

Dino – Così come sei:  This Dino guy has some kind of problem, maybe he has been hurt, I don’t know, but it’s difficult to explain why he is singing an Italian cover of Hey Good Lookin’ and seriously manhandling some pretty lady.  He starts out by ripping off her false eyelashes, then commences to pull off a variety of wigs and hairpieces, and tops it all off by scrubbing her face really hard with a Brillo pad.  Okay, it’s not a Brillo pad, but it might as well be.  Dino had to draw the line somewhere, I guess; these pretty lady extras can’t have been getting paid enough to warrant grievous bodily harm…. Just an observation, Dino looks a little bit like a cleancut version of Paul Quinn of Bourgie Bourgie.

Petula Clark – Pagherai: Petula Clark has never been a favourite of mine, despite the fact that she recorded a few numbers by Serge Gainsbourg.  I can’t explain, but the word unctuous comes to mind when I think of her.  Anyway, the cameraman can’t have liked her much either because he kept his distance – to the extent that you’re not quite sure it’s her for the most part; it could be anyone stood there.  But, surprisingly, when the camera does move in she looks very pleasant indeed.  The song is not much cop though and it has no entertainment factor to make it more appealing.

Luigi Tenco – Lo lo so già:  Nothing much to say about this one.  I guess they can’t all be interesting.

Françoise Hardy – La tua mano:  Not only does Françoise look beautiful but this song is head and shoulders above all the rest on this DVD.  It’s on the All Over the World 1997 Disques Vogue CD, which is well worth buying if you don’t have it already.  Great orchestration on this track too.  Not a lot of action, just Françoise sitting in a boat, but she looks good enough to get away with it, of course.  Note the mis-spelling of the name on the credits:

Jenny Luna – Sola nel sole:  Nothing to say, fairly dull.

Roby Ferrante – Tu sei sempre:  Roby sings his song whilst a mysterious woman hangs around in a lacy burqa type headdress. Not sure what that’s all about…

Lucio Dalla – Lei non è per me:  This is not as good as the opening track.  In fact I’m disappointed if truth be told.  All that seems to be happening is that some woman is chain smoking (there is a lot of smoking going on in this film, actually) and Lucio rubs his eye.  That cigarette smoke is irritating after all, but all I can think of is that he has tiny hands.  Not just small hands, but teeny, tiny hands.  In fact it reminds me of Charlie Kelly’s Uncle Jack in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – he has small hands and asks a lawyer guy to put his hands on top of his when they have their photograph taken so he will look like he has bigger hands.  Maybe Lucio Dalla should have done that too.  Yeah.

Udo Jürgens – Peccata che sia finita cosi:  This is okay, Udo’s a very competent act but the video, which again features a woman smoking, only perks up when Françoise Hardy makes a guest appearance.  Her job is simple, she has to stand around whilst Udo sings his song but she just can’t keep a straight face and for the most part only just manages to repress a smile.  Inside she’s cracking up though.  She’s obviously embarrassed; it’s how I feel when I accidentally happen upon a brass band in the park, I have to move on as quickly as possible.

I Flippers – La Vikinga:  Some crazy guys playing their instruments and pulling faces are accosted by an Amazonian lady wearing glasses and plaits; she’s thumbing a ride.  She’s cute actually, but she’s a bit forthright – they might give her a ride, but only because they’re scared of what she’ll do if they don’t.

Edoardo Viannello – La Tremarella:  I guess this means “the shakes” or something like that.  The video is a bit inappropriate, with the camera zooming in on a girl’s pelvis as she shakes away on a sun lounger.  But you can join in the dance at home and do the finger clicking and hand gestures.  Good fun.

Los Marcellos Ferial – Angelito di Anazio:  This is a sad sounding little number, with good reason, because apparently Angelito di Anzio was a little girl who was rescued by soldiers during the war, only to be killed days later by a bomb.  Cheery little story, that.  These Marcellos Ferial guys just wander around a beach looking glum as a little girl looks worried and hides.  The way the guys walk around together is quite funny but I can’t really recommend this one otherwise.

Riky Gianco – Cuore di negro:  This is a bit rum.  Riky pulls up a chair and watches as a guy and two girls are kissing.  If that’s not naughty enough, Riky also has a shiny backside on his well-worn trousers – could the wardrobe budget not stretch to a new pair of pants for Riky?  This seems like some kind of love triangle story.  The dancers are really good but Riky just comes off looking like he is trying to get in on the action.  Wishful thinking, Riky.

I Flippers (I’m not sure, maybe it’s not?) – ?:  If anyone knows the band and what the track is, please let me know.  This story is basic, some guys wander along the beach shamelessly checking out girls’ bums.  The girls smoke a lot, as they seem to in this film.  Eventually the girls get fed up of the guys perving on them and they push them in the water.  Ha!

Rosy – Un tuffo al cuore:  From what I can make out this is just kissing, boozing and ciggie sharing.  Partay!

Little Tony – La fine di Agosto:  Little Tony is so boring I have only taken one screen grab of him as he wanders around a boat.  Zzz!

La cricca – Il surf della mattonella:  This is brilliant, some odd looking kids singing at the zoo and shaking baby lions around.  Yay!

Gino Paoli – Vivere ancore:  Sinister video, this.  A woman hides behind the door as Gino walks in, but she’s not hidden herself very well, has she?  Just standing against the wall doesn’t make you invisible, lady!  I don’t know where they are but it looks very rundown and there appear to be loads of rolls of carpet in the room and some tinsel.  Very low budget for this, I guess, as Gino couldn’t even be bothered to get dressed up or anything.  The masks on the wall creep me out.

Nico Fidenco – Mi devi credere:  Nico is not very handy with the ladies, poor chap.  One writes “No” on a mirror with lipstick; another, who judging by the state of her hair looks like she has been dragged through a bush backwards, puts her hand in his face to get him to back off.  Why not manhandle the ladies, Nico?  That might help.  Nah, he tries that with a lady in a green dress and a lantern falls off the wall – you can see on the picture below that it is just being held against the wall by their arms.  The next thing you know it’s gone and you never see it again.  The set looks very dusty, so I hope there was a dry cleaning budget at least.

Gianni Morandi – Se puoi uscire una domenica sola con me:  Gianni is a very strange boy.  He snogs puppets with rather too much enthusiasm and the puppets are really, really ugly too.  Strange boy.

Remo Germani – Tra la la Susy:  What a great way to end the film, with a very, very, very catchy song you’ll be humming for days on end.  Not sure what this story is but Remo seems to have been upstaged and overshadowed by the extras in the video.  He walks around a field with some villagers and there is this old guy who is going to get centre-stage by hook or by crook – he’s got a baby donkey he appears to be rather proud of, and why not?  When simply carrying the baby donkey is no longer getting him any attention, he hangs it around his shoulders.  It’s super cute.  Then rather aptly the video ends as, in the background, a donkey bolts off with a man on its back.

What an amusing little film!  You don’t even need to know these singers; it’s just very entertaining indeed.  And Françoise Hardy and Margaret Lee provide the class.

What else to say about this film?  Well, the director Bruno Corbucci should be highly recommended for his screenplay for Sergio Corbucci’s wonderful Il grande silenzio (The Great Silence)Questo Pazzo, Pazzo Mondo Della Canzone is a million miles away from that film, but it’s in a totally different genre and it’s very good fun.  I’d definitely recommend this film.

If anyone knows what happened to the rest of the footage, please let me know as I would like to see the full-length version if there is one out there anywhere.