the happiness of a popular artist, on France 3

Joy and happiness radiated from Bourvil's smiling face. © Delmotte Collection

This beautiful new documentary looks back on the extraordinary career of the man who was an icon of the post-war period.

During confinement, the rebroadcast of The big mop and Corniaud brought to light Bourvil, who died of cancer on September 23, 1970 at only 53 years old. Rediscovering this humanist artist, so likeable and laughing heartily with him, has done millions of French people a lot of good. The desire to know more about his life and his career was there. Two years later, the time to send filming teams, France Télévisions celebrates the 52nd anniversary of his disappearance with two beautiful documentaries. The first, a film on the actor's house in Montainville in the Yvelines (1) was broadcast in July on France 5. The second, scheduled this Friday September 23 on France 3, is a large portrait by Boris Donné and Bernard Faroux with Valérie Lemercier in voiceover.

sense of family

The story (90 minutes) is chronological, interspersed with Super-8 films taken from the family archives and excerpts from songs and films. His sons Philippe and Dominique Raimbourg, like the filmmakers Claude Autant-Lara, Gérard Oury and Jean-Pierre Melville multiply the anecdotes. The idea is to explain who Bourvil was, his real name André Raimbourg. And how through work, luck and risk-taking, this son of modest Norman farmers managed to live from his art from 1942. Before exploding after the war, thanks to the song Les crayons, then to the cinema in 1956 , with The Crossing of Paris. From then on, he became an icon of popular culture.

The interest here is to tell the small story in the “big one”. In 1918, Bourvil's father, sent to war, died of the Spanish flu. For five years, his wife managed the family farm while raising three children. When she remarried in 1923, eyebrows were raised in the Pays de Caux. In the 1930s, the radio arrived at home and Bourvil fell in love with music. Fernandel is his idol. In 1939, when the Second World War broke out, he was a musician in a regiment. In 1942, under the occupation, he became a civilian again, took the name of Bourvil and created for himself the character of bewildered and naive Normand by playing on the imperfections of his physique. Chanson, boulevard theatre, operettas with Annie Cordy, cinema, he is everywhere.

A simple, very compartmentalized life

"Many French people recognized themselves in his roles as the ordinary guy who doesn't have the makings of a hero but is never a bastard.», Analyzes Valérie Lemercier. Despite the success, he leads a simple, very compartmentalized life, without many friends apart from Georges Brassens. His wife Jeanne takes care of everything and is also his best audience. "Our parents have been together all their lives. Without her, he would never have had the same career. They gave us a sense of family, work and respect for others, regardless of their social situation.“, underline their two sons.

At the age of 50, when illness struck him, he, so happy in his life and in his profession, was persuaded to pull through. With determination, he fights for three years. "All of his symptoms were painful but the most cruel was the paralysis of the tongue, tell his sons. In order not to have a speech defect, he trained for hours.” In the spring of 1969, despite intolerable pain, he turned The Red Circle by Jean-Pierre Melville with Alain Delon and Yves Montand, then The Atlantic Wall by Marcel Camus. He dreams of a singing tour at the Olympia. To shoot for the third time with Gérard Oury and Louis de Funès in Megalomania written especially for him. In August 1970, he goes to bed and disappears a few weeks later. The film ends with Bourvil singing in an emotional voice. He doesn't remember the Little Lost Ball. But, as her song says, "it was good."

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