The French, They Are a Funny Race

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The French, They Are a Funny Race
(Les Carnets du Major Thompson)
French Funny Race poster.jpg
poster for the French release
Directed by Preston Sturges
Produced by Alain Poiré
Paul Wagner
Written by Pierre Daninos (novel)
Preston Sturges (screenplay)
Starring Jack Buchanan
Martine Carol
Music by Georges Van Parys
Cinematography Maurice Barry
Jean Lallier
Christian Matras
Editing by Raymond Lamy
Distributed by Continental Dist.
Release dates 9 December 1955 (France)
20 May 1957 (NYC)
Running time 105 minutes
Country France
Language English
French
Budget $540,000[1]

The French, They Are a Funny Race — known in France as Les Carnets du Major Thompson (The Notebooks of Major Thompson) and in the U.K. as The Diary of Major Thompson — is a 1955 comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, based on the novel by Pierre Daninos. It stars Jack Buchanan and Martine Carol.

This was the last film directed by Preston Sturges.

Plot[edit]

Major Thompson (Jack Buchanan) is a crusty, middle-aged English officer, retired and widowed and living in Paris, who tries to adjust to the French way of life. He falls in love with frivolous but alluring Martine (Martine Carol), and then marries her. The question is, will their child be raised as a proper Englishman, or a swinging Frenchman?[2][3]

Cast[edit]

Cast notes:

  • Although Jack Buchanan was Scottish, he often played very English characters. He was dying of cancer at the time this film was made.
  • Noël-Noël was a French comic actor of some note at the time the film was made.

Production[edit]

The film was based on a popular column by Pierre Daninos in Le Figaro. Daninos would write as fictitious English Major Marmaduke Thompson who would observe the French. Daninos then turned these columns into a book The Notebooks of Major Thompson.[1]

Preston Sturges had come to Paris in hopes of reviving his career, which had hit the skids in Hollywood after his partnership with Howard Hughes dissolved in acrimony. He did some work on Broadway, wrote the screenplay for an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's The Millionairess which Katharine Hepburn, who had performed in the play in New York, wanted to get produced, and then came to France where, because he was fluent in French, he was able to write and direct the screenplay for this adaptation of Pierre Daninos popular novel.[4][5]

Sturges originally wrote a script called Forty Million Frenchmen, about a French author who invents an English character who assumes a borrowed identity. However, Daninos published his novel with such success that Sturges was requested to write a version closer to that. The movie was shot both in French and English using two crews.[1]

Release[edit]

The film was released in France on 9 December 1955, but Sturges did some additional polishing of it for the American audience, and it was not released in the United States until 20 May 1957, when it premiered in New York City,[6] the final American opening of Sturges' film career.

The movie was the 9th most popular film in France in 1956 but was not a hit in the US.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Nat Segaloff, Final Cuts: The Last Films of 50 Great Directors, Bear Manor Media 2013 p 281-283
  2. ^ TCM Overview
  3. ^ Erickson, Hal Plot synopsis (Allmovie)
  4. ^ Preston Sturges at Senses of Cinema: Great Directors Critical Database
  5. ^ Preston Sturges Timeline
  6. ^ IMDB Release dates
  7. ^ James Curtis, Between Flops: A Biography of Preston Sturges, Limelight, 1984 p274

External links[edit]