Sixth and last film in the saga, Le Gendarme et les gendarmettes was almost another film! After the Gendarme’s triumph and the extraterrestrials in 1979 (6.2 million admissions), the director Jean Girault is looking for new ideas for a sequel. His film damned the pawn to big Hollywood productions like Superman or Apocalypse Now and the launching of a new opus is inevitable.
At the time, SF films were a hit (Star Wars, Alien) and the director wanted to continue riding the wave. He then summons the scriptwriter Jean Halain who begins to work on a science fiction script. His idea was quickly abandoned, however. In 1980, Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez et l’Empereur was the first title to circulate in the press. Richard Balducci, creator of the original characters, imagines a wacky story where the brigade led by Louis de Funès is sent on a mission in orbit around the Earth to regulate the circulation of spacecraft.
Cruchot and his small team must complete the cosmonaut training and climb aboard the Ariane rocket! During the trip, the spacecraft is struck by another vehicle and begins to rotate in reverse from the Earth’s rotation. 120 days later, the gendarmes return to Earth and realize that they have traveled back in time! They meet in Waterloo in 1815. Our friends talk to Napoleon in person and help him for the battle.
Cruchot befriends the Emperor and teaches him English. As for Berlicot, he made reggae dance throughout Napoleon’s court while Fougasse taught the basics of pétanque to marquis. Louis de Funès then left to meet his great-grandfather, Ernest Cruchot. Finally, the Emperor accuses them of treason. The gendarmes embark again in their ship and leave for another trip back in time to return to their time. Arrived in Saint-Tropez, they realize that a monument (inaugurated by Brigitte Bardot!) Has been erected in their memory because everyone believes them dead.
This preposterous story was ultimately not retained. Some ideas will however be kept for La Soupe aux choux, written by Jean Halain and directed by Jean Girault. The latter prefers to turn to a more down-to-earth story, opting for Le Gendarme and the gendarmettes. At the time, the first women began to enter the National Gendarmerie and the director preferred to play on it. The filmmaker unfortunately died during filming at the age of 58, leaving his assistant, Tony Aboyantz, to finish the film. It will be a new success, the last of Louis de Funès, with 4.2 million cinema admissions in 1982. The actor will leave us shortly after, January 27, 1983.
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Source: It runs rough ! The tumultuous and little-known history of French cinema by Philippe Lombard, Editions La Tengo, 168 pages, € 22