Fernandel: a photo-interview

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Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby Ann Harding » Thu May 05, 2011 4:43 am

Recently TCM showed a French classic, the comedy Le Schpountz with the great French comedian, Fernandel. He was a star of the screen from 1930 until his death in 1971. Once you've seen his horsey grin, you cannot forget it. In 1958, he was in New York where he bumped into photographer Philippe Halsman. Halsman worked for Time magazine for many years and his 'jumping portraits' are still world famous. He decided to interview Fernandel using his still camera to shoot his reactions. The result was a delightful book called The Frenchman (published at the time by Simon & Schuster). Long out-of-print, Taschen published it again a few years ago. I scanned several pictures with the questions. Each time I look at that book, I can't stop laughing. So I wanted to share some of it with you.

How do you find America?
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What do you think of the world situation?
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What do you think of baseball that great American sport?
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Is it true that the average Frenchman still pinches girls in a crowd....?
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...Do you know that in the US this kind of behaviour can land you in jail?
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Would a Frenchman answer a pollster from the Kinsey Institute?
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Peter Minuit bought Manhattan for 24 dollars. Do you think he got conned?
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby JackFavell » Thu May 05, 2011 4:43 am

Oh my gosh, I love this! I couldn't talk you into scanning more of it, could I? I guess I should to find my own copy.
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby Rita Hayworth » Thu May 05, 2011 4:43 am

I saw that too ... Ann ... at the end ... I was laughing silly. :lol: :lol: :lol: My Dad, Grandfathers, and Uncles all loved him. One my Uncle saw him performed in France after Korean War and he went away having a ball. He is a wonderful comedian. I loved his unforgettable face ... thanks for sharing these pics.
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby Ann Harding » Thu May 05, 2011 4:43 am

OK, I'll do more this WE. :wink: The original book in English is probably hard to find. The new edition is only in French, alas. (I translated the questions).
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby JackFavell » Thu May 05, 2011 4:43 am

Take your time.. at your own leisure...I don't want to push. I really love Fernandel.
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby Ann Harding » Thu May 05, 2011 4:43 am

Actually, it looks as if there are some cheap copies around:
http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=philippe+halsman&sts=t&x=52&y=19.
But, I'll do more tomorrow. :wink:

Thanks Kingme. It's gratifying to know that Fernandel was so well-known in America. :)
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby JackFavell » Thu May 05, 2011 4:43 am

Oooh, thanks for that link, Ms Harding!
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby moira finnie » Thu May 05, 2011 4:43 am

Christine, you angel!!!

We had this book when I was little, with Fernandel answering all these questions. I used to "read" it all the time before I ever learned to read or went to school, (I was the last of four little kids who treasured it, and it had lost its cover by the time it came down to me). You have made me so happy by posting these images. Doesn't he have the most wonderful face?

Thank you so much for sharing this blast from my past.
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby Ann Harding » Fri May 06, 2011 4:43 am

What a coincidence, Moira ! I never thought this book was that famous. Well, I'm glad it brought back some nice memories. :)
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby charliechaplinfan » Fri May 06, 2011 4:43 am

No wonder the book was so popular, the images are priceless. Thanks for posting :D
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby feaito » Fri May 06, 2011 4:43 am

Fernandel's reactions as superb!! :D Thanks for sharing this with us Christine. I'd never heard of that book.
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby moira finnie » Fri May 06, 2011 4:43 am

Ann Harding wrote:What a coincidence, Moira ! I never thought this book was that famous. Well, I'm glad it brought back some nice memories. :)

I'm not sure if it was famous, but my father and mother had strong ties to France due to the war (Dad was in military intelligence and worked with the Resistance and Mom worked part time for the French Institute Alliance Française in NYC during the '40s). They both had a deep admiration for the culture and loved the philosophical bent of the French people they became friends with at that time. They corresponded with friends they made during that time for decades. Because he helped one of his Resistance contacts get married and get more education after the war, my father was honored to become the godfather of that young man's first-born son. He was named for my father and the president when this baby was conceived: Joseph Franklin Delano Roosevelt Arnaud! What a mouthful.

Both my parents would often talk about entertainers and writers like Fernandel, Edith Piaf, Jean Gabin, Jean Sablon, Georges Bernanos, and Jacques Maritain as though they were people they knew. Dad even thought about moving to France for a time after the war, but family obligations came along that prevented that, unfortunately. He was never able to return to France and my mother, who loved the country and spoke the language as well as Dad never got there at all, I'm sorry to say. Still, as you can probably tell, they did instill a similar love for the country in their kids.

Thanks again for posting the pictures and exchanges. I've forwarded all of them to my older siblings, who probably remember them well too. The sight of them brings back such warm memories of my parents and the laughter they shared with us--and Fernandel!
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby Ann Harding » Sun May 08, 2011 4:43 am

Here are a few more!

Don't you think that the superiority of modern art is based on its entrenchment in the domain of unreality, allowing it therefore to enter the libidinal sphere of the subconscious?
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As a Frenchman, what do you think of American girls' cleavage?
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...But did you know that, last year, we sold four and a half millions breast implants?
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Us Americans, we are strongly against sin...What about you, Sir?
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Did you know that Lana Turner will be travelling on the same boat as you?...
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...with her husband?
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Last edited by Ann Harding on Sun May 08, 2011 4:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby Rita Hayworth » Sun May 08, 2011 4:43 am

Again, great pics ... if you have more ... please post them, pretty please with sugar on them! These are precious :!:
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Re: Fernandel: a photo-interview

Postby Ann Harding » Sun May 08, 2011 4:43 am

I'll try Kingme. Later. :wink:

By a funny coincidence, I watched a French comedy yesterday starring Fernandel : Le Rosier de Madame Husson (1931, Bernard-Deschamps). This lovely comedy is based upon a short story by Maupassant. In a small village in Normandy in the late XIXth century, Madame Husson (a young Françoise Rosay) organises a rosière competition. A rosière is young girl recognised for her virtue during a ceremony where she receives a crown of roses. (I think they have similar customs in Ireland) Alas, not a single girl in town qualifies: they are all the subject of gossips. Suddenly, they have an idea: why not select a young man instead of a girl? They select Isidore (Fernandel), the grocer's son. He is very shy, verging on the simple-minded. During the huge ceremony, all dressed in white, he receives some money and a crown of roses. He becomes a rosier. Suddenly, all women seem interested in him. As soon as the ceremony is over, he runs to take the bus. In the next town, he enters a seedy bar where he will lose very quickly the 'virtue' he had kept so far. For such an early talkie, the camera movements are really impressive. Fernandel is hilarious as the shy young man. The songs are well incorporated into the story. A really charming comedy.
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