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Friday, May 23, 2008

LES ADVENTURES DE RABBI JACOB (1973)

Physical comedy rarely vaults over continental borders & this smash example of Euro-slapstick was too deliciously low to find its deserved Stateside market. (A botched Mel Brooks ’ edit with English dubbing got nowhere.) It now wears a patina of innocence as escalating tensions between Arabs, Jews, racist Frenchmen & police make a farce like this all but unthinkable. It gives filmmaker Gerard Oury ’s rough & ready silliness, in a story that nods toward SOME LIKE IT HOT (bigot hides under Rabbinical garb to avoid Mid-East killers), a nostalgic pull amidst the pratfalls. Louis de Funes, hardly a subtle clown, is most effective here & well partnered by some outstandingly funny supporting players. Watch for the hat scene in the synagogue and a prayer shawl escape. Give this one a try as a first foreign language/subtitled pic for the kids.

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