Undoubtedly Gérard Jugnot’s most humanist film, “Une Epoque formidable” was released just 30 years ago. And gave Richard Bohringer a magnificent role, the best of his career. Yet Jugnot hadn’t thought of him at first.
Michel Berthier is a middle manager in a company specializing in the sale of mattresses, when he is made redundant. Wanting at all costs to have a child with his wife Juliette, who already has two from a first marriage, he says nothing, but very quickly finds himself in a situation of having to leave the family home. After a few mishaps, Michel Berthier meets Crayon, Mimosa and Le Toubib, who will become his companions in misfortune of this new poor among the homeless …
You might have recognized the synopsis for The Great Times, released just 30 years ago on June 19, 1991.
For the record, that was it …
Gérard Jugnot’s most humanist film
After Pinot simple cop (1984), the schoolboy comedy and nostalgic Scout toujours (1985), and the medieval comedy sauce Without fear and without reproach (1988), it is an understatement to say that we were not really expecting Gérard Jugnot with a comedy dramatic as successful asA great time.
Because if the laughter can be frank with dialogues which often ring very true in this film carried in particular by Ticky Holgado and Richard Bohringer, it also knows how to be very bitter, stressing that the banishment of the company can strike anyone and above all very quickly; not just the little people.
Undoubtedly Jugnot’s most humanist film, A great time unfortunately remains more relevant than ever. According to figures provided by the Ministry of Health and Solidarity, 8 million people (families, individuals and young people) needed food aid at the end of 2020, in order not to go hungry; or 12% of the population. Eight times more than in the 1980s.
According to the Abbé Pierre Foundation, known in particular for its fight against poor housing, France has 300,000 homeless people; a figure that has doubled since 2012 and the last INSEE survey. Of this figure, 11,000 people still live in slums, according to a survey by the interministerial delegation for accommodation and access to housing (Dihal) …
The doctor’s initial choice
“Hey you! How much do you pay to film misery? How much do we pay you to film poor people? Emotion has to be paid for! If you want tears, you have to wear headphones!” releases the character of Toubib (Richard Bohringer) in the film to a journalist Zabou Breitman. Further on: “Pencil, put quotes when you talk to the ladies!” Bohringer launches at Ticky Holgado, who verbally abuses a passerby in the street. Or, in a poignant scene, when he calls out to a crowd in the middle of the street, with a voice choked with emotion: “You killed him! You didn’t want it! Nobody wanted it!”
With his hoarse and warm voice, Bohringer’s composition in the guise of Toubib, a tramp with a big heart, all in nuances and loud verb, is undoubtedly the best of his career on the screen. Yet it was not him that Jugnot first thought of for the role.
As he revealed in his autobiography, The Dictionary of my life, Jugnot first thought of entrusting the role of the Toubib to Philippe Noiret. “I had thought that he would be an exceptional tramp. Noiret, Rochefort, and Marielle, these three actors of excess were also voices. With my small veiled organ, I greatly admired their lyrical and picturesque vocal flights. screen as in life, they had a wonderful language. I could listen to them for hours “.
Noiret declined the role, turning the same year in J’embrasse pas by André Téchiné, where he plays a homosexual TV host. Despite everything, Jugnot and Noiret will give each other four years later in the not necessarily memorable comedy Phantom with driver, under the direction of Gérard Oury, who signed his penultimate film there.