For Monsieur Gangster in 1963 the director Georges Lautner was surrounded by which was already a kind of "dream team" with Michel Audiard to co-sign the dialogs and some "heavyweights" in the cast with non the less than Lino Ventura, Bernard Blier and Francis Blanche.
But I doubt than even him had anticipated the incredible success Les Tontons Flingueurs would encouter in France. A success which just confirms itself in the time as if you just asked people in the street about that movie you'd be probably amazed to discover so many people quoting this movie by heart, whatever their age
Monsieur Gangster starts with the departure of "Monsieur Fernand" (Lino Ventura) from his provincial tractors' shop to Paris.
Fernand Naudin appears to be a former mob handyman and comes to Paris answering to the call from an old friend of his, a dying mob boss nicknamed "The Mexican" (Jacques Dumesnil).
In memory of their common past, "The Mexican" asks Fernand to take care of his business and of his daughter till she finds herself a husband.
Of course, with the death of the original boss, some ambitions awake and the former lieutenants will have to be persuaded with much "diplomacy" to accept "The Mexican"'s last wishes represented in Fernand Naudin.
Raoul Volfoni (amazing Bernard Blier) in particulary quickly learns the hard way that Fernand is not a man to underestimate.
Trying to prevent the war of succession by striking hard at once, Fernand can count on the support of the closest men of "The Mexican":
- his bodyguard/hittman Pascal (Venantino Venantini), expert of killing and torturing but also very strict on the ethic (the ethic of the mob of course),
- the advocate MaÃ®tre Folace (Francis Blanche), who won't hesitate a second to dirty his hands if his boss' interrests are in peril,
- and of course, last but not least, the butler Jean (Robert Dalban) as efficient with the protocole than with a gun and speaking english with one of the most appreciable french outrrrrageous accent
Behind such a dark plot, you find in fact in Monsieur Gangster one of the most funny comedies seen on screen which makes you roll on the floor. :rofl:
Since a very long time I want to do a topic about this amazing movie but it was still a hard decision to make as I clearly doubted many people outside France would ever have a chance to see it.
I've just done a little search on google for a dvd with english subtitles and found none. Indeed on can easily thinks that Monsieur Gangster could just be very hardly exported as the heart of the movie doesn't reside in its pic or in the filming properly but in the dialogs.
Co-signed by Michel Audiard, these dialogs are nothing else than a true jewel. First of all, the "uncles" (tontons) don't speak the everyday french but a vulgar parisian full of images and "street lyrism" given with a very musical accent
Many sentences sound like proverbs like the following from Fernand speaking about the Volfoni brothers:
"Les cons ça ose tout ! C'est même à ça qu'on les reconnaît!"
"Fatheads dare everything ! That's even how we recognise them!"
... and you've got all along the movie tons of these great lessons about life and everything
So indeed it can be hard for a non-french speaker to understand everything and to translate these dialogs in another langage you would have to be very good in both vulgar spoken langages of the originals.
But on another hand the "french" you hear in Monsieur Gangster might not be as hard to understand for a non-french speaking one than Snatch for a non-english speaking one.
For sure you will only appreciate totally this movie with a very good level in the french language but I have no doubt Monsieur Gangster will make you laugh loudely with at least correct subtitles.
Many films are better directed and filmed than Monsieur Gangster but very few movies reach this stage of "magic".
Monsieur Gangster is a master piece that valiantly jumps from older generations to new generations of fans along the years.
I just can't give it another mark than 6/6 and hope that many non-frenchies will have the pleasure to discover it.
For those of you who are studying french, Les Tontons Flingueurs should be the grail for you to reach ;)