Saturday, January 18, 2014

Good-Bye, Friend — Georges Lautner, Director of “Les Tontons Flingueurs"

A "prolific French director who specialized in comedy and crime — often in the same movie —" died several weeks ago on the outskirts of Paris, writes the NYT's Bruce Weber. Georges Lautner was 87.
In paying tribute to Mr. Lautner, President François Hollande acknowledged his cultural stature, saying he made “great popular comedies that became cult films of our cinematic heritage.”
From the late 1950s through the 1980s, Mr. Lautner churned out an average of more than a film a year. He made more than 40 over all, often also serving as co-writer; his frequent collaborator was Michel Audiard. 

His movies, generally fast-paced and cleverly plotted, often starred one or more of France’s celebrity actors, including Jean-Paul Belmondo, Alain Delon, Bernard Blier, Miou-Miou and Mireille Darc. And though Mr. Lautner’s films were not as well appreciated critically or internationally as those of the high-minded auteurs who were his contemporaries and countrymen, he made reliably appealing and profitable movies that reached a wide audience in France, many of which remain in frequent circulation on French television. 

Among Mr. Lautner’s best-known films are “Les Tontons Flingueurs” (1963), a sendup of organized crime, known to English-speaking audiences as “Crooks in Clover” or “Monsieur Gangster,” with Mr. Blier and Lino Ventura; “Mort d’un Pourri” (“Death of a Corrupt Man”), a 1977 thriller starring Mr. Delon, Ms. Darc and Stéphane Audran, about the murder of a blackmailer; “Le Professionnel,” a 1981 suspense thriller about the corrupt machinations behind a political assassination, starring Mr. Belmondo in a jaunty, James Bond-like turn as a rogue secret agent; a 1983 comedy about a woman (Miou-Miou, in “a lovely, confident performance,” Vincent Canby wrote in The New York Times) maintaining two separate families, known in English as “My Other ‘Husband’ ”; and “La Cage aux Folles 3: The Wedding” (1985), the final installment of the series about the comically tortuous relationship problems of a gay couple.