Three things to know about … Happy New Year

The duo Lino Ventura- Françoise Fabian, reunited by Claude Lelouch is in the spotlight tonight at Place au cinéma, presented by Dominique Besnehard on France 5.

A film written for Lino Ventura

Released in 1973, Happy New Year stages the improbable meeting between a macho mobster, generous and little cultivated preparing the breakage of a jewelry store on the Croisette in Cannes, and an antique dealer, romantic intellectual and very liberated, whose shop is next to the said bank. And Claude Lelouch wrote the role of the robber for Lino Ventura, which he successfully directed a year earlier in Adventure is adventure which has been a huge public success. “When we have tasted Lino Ventura we cannot do without it” he explained then. He joined him the faithful Charles Gérard (who was already his partner in Adventure is adventure) to play his accomplice and especially Françoise Fabian, the heroine of My night at Maud’s by Eric Rohmer and Raphael and the debauchery by Michel Deville to embody his love at first sight. True to his habit, the filmmaker also called here for personalities in their own role, Mireille Mathieu and Michou, for a scene in the latter’s famous cabaret.

A die-hard fan named Stanley Kubrick

The final scene of the film was intentionally hidden from Lino Ventura by Claude Lelouch who knew that, in real life, the actor had difficulty admitting that a man could forgive a woman who had cheated on him. How was his character going to react in this situation? Lelouch gave him only one direction: that he asks himself the question of knowing if he forgives him or not and can thus go through all the states. This final shot was one of the favorites of a certain Stanley Kubrick, more widely admirer of a film which he had taken for the habit of showing to his actors before each start of filming. This was particularly the case with Tom Cruise just before Eyes wide shut.

A remake made in the USA

Fourteen years after its French release, Happy New Year was entitled to its American remake. At the controls, we found John G. Avildsen who after Rocky, had just hit the mark with the first two parts of Karate kid. Partners the previous year in Big trouble, the final film directed by John Cassavetes, Peter Falk (showing in the same year 87 of Wings of desire by Wim Wenders and Princess bride by Rob Reiner) and Charles Durning reprized the respective roles of Lino Ventura and Charles Gérard, in an action transposed from Cannes to Palm Beach in Florida. And Wendy Hughes, who had just stood out on the small screen in Two Faces Revenge, embodied the antique dealer. While Lelouch himself makes an appearance for a scene in a train.

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