2 May 2021

Jean Boyer's Le Chômeur de Clochemerle | Easiest Profession (1957)

No comment on the ridiculous English translation of the title of this film set in the fictitious Clochemerle. Fernandel (here Tistin) almost always plays the part of the good, constantly smiling toothy, gummy guy, as in this film, where he's at first a tramplike poacher avoiding the gamekeeper Beausoleil (Marcel Perès), who nevertheless enjoys an illegal rabbit stew with Tistin. And then Tistin has a brilliant idea: in a place of full employment, he applies to be a paid member of the unemployed, and succeeds.

He achieves this by the mayor M. Piechut (Henri Vilbert) rigging the vote because he believes that this places Clochemerle at the forefront of social justice, for which Tistin is paid 10,000 francs a month, or the equivalent of over 20,000 euros in today's figures: not a bad haul for doing nothing. But unfortunately the villagers strongly object to Tistin being paid to do nothing, and soon almost everyone is against him.

Until, that is, he starts to do any odd jobs asked of him, and the villagers reward him for it, which he eventually puts in a bank account to the benefit of the village. Result? He's awarded a medal and marries his beloved Jeanette (Maria Mauban). It's all good fun, although I'd have preferred an ending similar to Renoir's Boudu sauvé des eaux.

This film is based on novels by Gabriel Chevallier, who based Clochemerle in Vaux-en-Beaujolais, which now rejoices in the representation with a house with murals of Chevallier's characters, a pissotière, a Clochmerle trail, etc.

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