Directed by Maurice Lehmann • Drama • With Fernandel, Michel Simon, Arletty, Hélène Robert • 1939 • 106 minutes
Fernandel was a 20th-century French phenomenon – once he emerged from supporting roles in the early ‘30s, with his inimitable equine mug, enormous incisors and friendly eyes, he commanded lead roles in over 40 films before the decade was through. (His popularity and prolificness didn’t wane until his death in 1971.) This relaxed farce features the star as a naive jeweler’s assistant who unknowingly gets mixed up with the Parisian demimonde – namely, Michel Simon’s petty crook and Arletty’s convicted-gangster’s moll. Under extreme pressure from his boss’ dicatorial daughter (Helene Robert) to become a couple, Fernandel’s blithe Everyman falls for Arletty’s worldly vixen, and the four of them work at all kinds of cross-purposes until, inevitably, the underworlders decide they have to break into (“fric-frac”) the jeweler’s safe.