Find out how Jean Gabin almost played in Les Tontons flingueurs before his demands led to his ousting from the project in favor of Lino Ventura.
The time was not always “for round tables and relaxation”, at least as far as the filming of Tontons flingueurs by Georges Lautner is concerned. Recall the story: the former mobster Fernand Naudin (Lino Ventura), is contacted by an old dying friend (Louis “the Mexican”, played by Jacques Dumesnil) who asks him to resume his criminal affairs and keep his daughter Patricia ( Sabine Sinjen). Except that’s where the trouble will start …
Except that even if it is now inseparable from the main role, Ventura was not supposed to play Fernand Naudin in the film, because the role was planned for another actor: Jean Gabin.
The quarrel with Lautner
At the time, Gabin was an undisputed star, he knew the other actors of Les Tontons for having shot classics with them such as Le Cave se rebiffe or Les Misérables with Bernard Blier, Le Gentleman d’Epsom with Jean Lefebvre, and many films. with Robert Dalban, with the exception of Francis Blanche, to whom he never replied.
But to join them in Les Tontons flingueurs, Gabin has requirements that not everyone!
Indeed, over the years and filming with the same directors, Gabin has become a man of habit and exclusivity. He therefore seeks to impose on the director Georges Lautner and his producers his own technical team.
Among them, we find the production designer René Renoux (with already at the time 7 films of the actor on the counter), but also Jean Rieul in the sound (14 films), Eric Geiger in the direction of production (5 films), Marcel Dolé as still photography (8 films) or Louis Page as director of photography (16 films).
Lautner categorically refuses and gets angry with Gabin. As difficult as it is, Lautner’s decision reassures screenwriter and dialogue writer Michel Audiard, who is then angry with Gabin. On the set of Mélodie in the basement the previous year, Gabin criticized the author for having reduced the presence of his character and the two men no longer speak to each other.
Disappointed with Lautner’s refusal, Jean Gabin therefore abandoned Les Tontons flingueurs and left to shoot Maigret sees rouge, which totaled 2 million admissions, less than the 3.3 million of Les Tontons, but a quite honorable box office score. .
In 1968, Lautner and Gabin reconcile to sign together the thriller Le Pacha, in which the actor plays a police inspector investigating the murder of his colleague, (badly) made up as suicide. Their alliance and the presence of Audiard in the dialogues will attract 2 million curious people.
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