Broadcast this evening on C8, “Don Camillo in Russia” precedes the last part of the saga, “Don Camillo and the protesters”. A film apart within the series, because it had to be done without its star actor.
Don Camillo in Russia tells how Peppone decides to twin the small village with a Soviet commune. When he leaves for Russia to meet his future collaborators, Don Camillo does not hesitate for a second: he disguises himself and takes part in the journey. This is the fifth and penultimate part of the saga carried by Fernandel and devoted to the comic adventures of the Italian priest. Born in 1952, this film series is inspired by the short stories of comedian, writer, journalist and cartoonist Giovannino Guareschi. The first opus, Le petit monde de Don Camillo, directed by Julien Duvivier, was a resounding success with 12.7 million spectators in France.
Don Camillo stops in 1970 with a last feature film, Don Camillo and the protesters, with a singular genesis. Still interpreted by Fernandel and Gino Cervi, the film is directed by Christian-Jaque but its shooting is interrupted in August due to Fernandel’s state of health. Suffering from a cancerous tumor, he joked a few days earlier to journalists: “Normally I should finish September 15th. If all goes well ! But is everything all right in a movie? Rarely. “* Exhausted and subject to severe pain, he ended up seeing a doctor who diagnosed him with dry pleurisy.
The production then plans to replace him with Gastone Moschin, which does not at all enchant Christian-Jaque, who prefers to leave the ship than to shoot without his star actor. Cervi follows suit, and is replaced by Lionel Stander in the role of Peppone. Fernandel did not return to the set: he died on February 26, 1971. Don Camillo et les protestiants, the first film in the series to be shot in color, was finally released in 1972, signed by Italian director Mario Camerini, and achieved the smallest result. at the box office of the saga, with 2.4 million spectators.
* Extract of It runs rough ! The unknown and tumultuous history of French cinema, Philippe Lombard, La Tengo.