French filmmaker Gerard Oury dies at 87

20th July 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 20, 2006 (AFP) - Gerard Oury, the director who made one of the most popular French films of all time, 'La Grande Vadrouille,' died Thursday at the age of 87 at his home in Saint Tropez, his agent said.

PARIS, July 20, 2006 (AFP) - Gerard Oury, the director who made one of the most popular French films of all time, 'La Grande Vadrouille,' died Thursday at the age of 87 at his home in Saint Tropez, his agent said.

Oury made a series of extremely successful comedy capers in the 1960s and 1970s, many starring the comic actors Louis de Funes and Bourvil.

Released in 1966, 'La Grande Vadrouille' - known in English as 'Don't Look Now, We're Being Shot At' - was about an Allied pilot trying to escape from occupied France during World War II, and also starred the English actor Terry Thomas.

The film was seen by 17 million people at the cinema - a French record which was not overtaken until 32 years later by James Cameron's 'Titanic.'

Among Oury's other hits was 'Le Cerveau' - 'The Brain' - which starred Bourvil, Jean-Paul Belmondo and David Niven, and 'Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob' with De Funes.

Born in Paris in 1919, Oury began his career as a theatre actor at the Comedie Française. Being Jewish, he fled France for Monaco and Switzerland during World War II.

In the 1950s he played French roles in several British films - including 'Father Brown' alongside Alec Guinness and 'The Heart of the Matter' with Trevor Howard - but gave up acting for directing at the end of the decade.

In all he made 17 films, the latest - 'Le Schpountz' - in 1999.

Since 1958 he had lived with the actress Michele Morgan - star of the 1938 classic 'Le Quai des Brumes' - though they never married. She survives him.

His daughter, born in 1942, is the film director Daniele Thompson.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, a friend of Thompson, paid tribute to Oury as a "marvellous representative of the French spirit, of humour, generosity and tenderness."

His work "is part of the heritage of French families - those films that one can watch over and again with the same delight as on the first day," Villepin said.

President Jacques Chirac issued a statement praising Oury as "an immensely
popular director and screenwriter, acclaimed by the public, master of laughter
and good humour, who was also much more - a wonderful creator of myths."

State-owned France 3 television programmed an evening of tributes Thursday, including two of his films.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

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