In 1973, Philippe de Broca, one of the greatest representatives of popular French cinema (L’Homme de Rio, The Tribulations of a Chinese in China), produced the cult Magnificent with his faithful actor Jean-Paul Belmondo in the role -title. The story of a modest author who created from his pen an invincible secret agent named Bob Saint-Clare. To write the extraordinary adventures of his hero, he is inspired by the characters he meets in reality.
Surprisingly, no screenwriter is mentioned in the credits, either at the start or at the end of the film. However, we know that Francis Veber participated in the writing. Not yet in directing – his first feature, Le Jouet, will be released three years later – he had then signed the scripts for three classic comedies, including L’Emmerdeur and Le Grand Blond with a black shoe. But what happened?
L’Emmerdeur sur France 2 at 2 p.m .: Lino Ventura, a complicated actor. Francis Veber remembers
First attached to the staging of the Magnificent, de Broca changes his mind and announces to Veber that he will not carry out his script, because he wants to get away from comedy. But the failure of his Dear Louise with Jeanne Moreau made him reverse his decision. The collaboration between the two men then continues in a rather tense manner. Indeed, they do not agree on the two main female characters (Tatiana and Christine) interpreted by Jacqueline Bisset. De Broca says (notably in the audio comments of the DVD) that he wanted to flesh out these roles unlike Veber, who, according to de Broca, would have a problem with the female roles in his works.
The duo calls on Jean-Paul Rappeneau, future director of Cyrano de Bergerac and Le Hussard on the roof and co-writer of L’Homme de Rio, to the rescue. Requested as script-doctor (person who helps to improve a scenario), Rappeneau decides in favor of de Broca and enriches the characters of Tatiana and Christine.
After viewing the final cut, Veber requests that his name be removed from the credits. In his memories Let it stay between us, the latter wishes to bring his version of the facts. He claims that there were “a total incompatibility of humor” between de Broca and him. He would also be offended not to have been consulted when the filmmaker called on his usual screenwriter, Daniel Boulanger, to rewrite the film.
Francis Veber does not hesitate to qualify this experience as “worst script memory” : “(…) The Magnificent was a subject close to my heart. I told the story of a writer who ended up mixing his imagination and reality, and it was without a doubt my most personal scenario. (…) I don’t want to judge the result, all that I remember from this adventure is that it made me unhappy (…) I must however thank Broca, he was one of those that most effectively pushed me to direct my films. ” With the success we know …