The director Claude Zidi admitted in his autobiography to have accepted to make “The Under-gifted pass the bac” to reimburse the taxes, discover the whole story behind the scenes of this cult comedy.
Les Sous-doués was one of the great French successes when it was released in theaters in April 1980, totaling 3.98 million admissions at the end of its operation. This popular comedy carried by Michel Galabru, Maria Pacôme and Daniel Auteuil also revives the director Claude Zidi, then in financial difficulty.
Indeed, after a long collaboration with the comic group Les Charlots, two films with Pierre Richard, one with Belmondo and another with De Funès, Zidi has never collected less than 2.7 million admissions with his films and he is the king of the box office, but everything changes in 1979 with Beast, but disciplined.
The story is that of Jacques (Jacques Villeret), who is doing his military service, and who is responsible for transporting (hidden in an ambulance) the inventor of a mysterious gas. At the time humorist and man of the theater, supporting role in the cinema especially with Claude Lelouch, Villeret found his first leading role with this film co-written by Zidi and Michel Fabre. Only the film is a failure, attracting “only” 684,518 curious people.
As if that were not enough, the taxes contact Zidi to ask him for money … which he has not yet received, since the producers Claude Berri and Christian Fechner have not yet paid it *. In order to reimburse the taxes, Zidi therefore decides to produce a low-budget film that he will also direct, and that’s how were born The Under-gifted.
Despite the financial failure it represents, Stupid but disciplined gives the director the opportunity to meet Daniel Auteuil, whom he then places as a young star of his new comedy on these dunce high school students forced to obtain their baccalaureate at all costs.
Moreover, when it was released in 1980, the film was soberly titled The Under-gifted, but was renamed two years later as The Under-gifted pass the bac when his sequel, Les Sous-doués en vacances (1982), was released.
*In Claude Zidi, discreetly by Vincent Chapeau, Hors Collection, 2019.