The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob (French: Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob, pronounced [lez‿avɑ̃tyʁ də ʁabi ʒakɔb]) is a 1973 French-Italian comedy film directed by Gérard Oury, starring Louis de Funès and Claude Giraud. It follows a bigoted businessman and a kidnapped revolutionist who disguise themselves as rabbis to escape from assassins. One of De Funès' most popular and iconic movies, it has become a cult classic.
|The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob|
|Directed by||Gérard Oury|
|Written by||Gérard Oury|
Roberto De Leonardis
|Produced by||Bertrand Javal|
|Starring||Louis de Funès|
|Edited by||Albert Jurgenson|
|Music by||Vladimir Cosma|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox (U.S.)|
|18 October 1973|
|Box office||$54.7 million|
Rabbi Jacob (Marcel Dalio) is one of the most beloved rabbis of New York. One day, the French side of his family, the Schmolls, invite him to celebrate the bar mitzvah of young David, and he boards a plane for his native France after more than 30 years of American life. His young friend Rabbi Samuel accompanies him.
In Normandy, the rich businessman Victor Pivert (Louis de Funès) is also on his way; his daughter (Miou-Miou) will be married the next day. Pivert is a dreadful man: bad-tempered, rude and a bigot, with a well-honed racism against blacks, Jews, and pretty much all foreigners. He and his driver, Salomon (Henri Guybet), have a car accident in which Pivert's car (carrying a speed boat) flips upside-down into a lake. When Salomon, who is Jewish, refuses to help because Shabbat has just begun, Pivert fires him, much to Salomon's content.
Arab revolutionist leader Mohamed Larbi Slimane (Claude Giraud) is kidnapped by killers who are working for his country's government. The team, led by Colonel Farès, takes him by night to an empty bubble gum factory... the same place where Victor Pivert goes to find assistance. Pivert involuntarily helps Slimane to flee, leaving two killers' corpses behind them. The police, alerted by Salomon, find the bodies and accuse Pivert of the crime.
The next day, Slimane forces Pivert to go to Orly airport to catch a plane to Slimane's country (if the revolution succeeds, he will become President). However, they are followed by a number of people: the jealous Germaine, Pivert's wife, who thinks her husband is going to leave her for another woman; Farès and the killers; and the police commissioner Andréani (Claude Piéplu), a zealous and overly suspicious cop who imagines that Pivert is the new Al Capone. Farès and his cohorts manage to kidnap Germaine, and they use her own dentist equipment to interrogate her.
Trying to conceal his and Pivert's identities, Slimane attacks two rabbis in the toilets, stealing their clothes and shaving their beards and their payot. The disguises are perfect, and they are mistaken for Rabbi Jacob and Rabbi Samuel by the Schmoll family. The only one who recognizes Pivert (and Slimane) behind the disguise is Salomon, his former driver, who just happens to be a Schmoll nephew. But Pivert and Slimane are able to keep their identity secret and even manage to hold a sermon in Hebrew, thanks to the polylingual Slimane (who is deeply gutted, of course), as well as to take part in a Hasidic dance, one of the memorable scenes from the film.
After a few misunderstandings, Commissioner Andréani and his two inspectors are mistaken by the Jews for terrorists, attempting to kill Rabbi Jacob. The real Rabbi Jacob arrives at Orly, where no one is waiting for him any more. He is mistaken for Victor Pivert by the police, then by Farès and his killers (both times in a painful way for his long beard).
There is a chaotic, but sweeping happy ending:
- the revolution is a success, and Slimane becomes President of the Republic
- Pivert's daughter falls in love with Slimane and escapes her dull fiancé near the altar to go with him
- Pivert learns tolerance towards other religions and cultures, and also Salomon and Slimane make peace with their respective Arab and Jewish colleagues
- the Schmolls finally find the real Rabbi Jacob
- the Piverts and the Schmolls go together feasting and celebrating
- Louis de Funès - Victor Pivert
- Suzy Delair - Germaine Pivert
- Claude Giraud - Mohamed Larbi Slimane / Rabbi Zeligman
- Henri Guybet - Salomon
- Marcel Dalio - Rabbi Jacob
- Renzo Montagnani - Colonel Farès
- Janet Brandt - Tzipé Schmoll
- André Falcon - The minister
- Xavier Gélin - Alexandre
- Miou-Miou - Antoinette Pivert
- Denise Provence - Esther Schmoll
- Claude Piéplu - Andreani
- Michel Robin - The monk
- Jacques François - The general
- Gérard Darmon - Farès's bodyguard
- Cherif Adnane - Farés's bodyguard
- El Kabir - Fares's bodyguard
- Malek Kateb - Fares's bodyguard
- Pierre Koulak - Fares's bodyguard
- Noël Darzal - Fares's bodyguard
- Lucien Melki - Fares's bodyguard
- Dominique Zardi
- "The Mad Adventures of "Rabbi" Jacob". Allmovie. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
- JP. "Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob ()". JP's Box-Office (Version Mobile) (in French). Retrieved 2019-01-27.
- "A Film and Its Era: The Adventures of Rabbi Jacob – Aubery Edler – France". Eurochannel. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
- "Rabbi Jacob : 200 personnes reprennent sa danse dans un flashmob à Paris. Un cadeau pour l'anniversaire de Louis de Funès, qui aurait eu 105 ans le 31 juillet." [Rabbi Jacob: 200 people resume his dance in a flashmob in Paris. A gift for the birthday of Louis de Funès, who would have been 105 on July 31.], franceinfo, July 10, 2019
- Mulvey, Michael. (2017). "What Was So Funny about Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob (1973): A Comedic Film between History and Memory", French Politics, Culture & Society, 35(3), pp. 24-43 JSTOR 26892954 — The article puts the film into the political, moral, and cultural perspective of France of the times.
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