Daily | Edouard Molinaro, 1928 – 2013

Edouard Molinaro

Edouard Molinaro

Edouard Molinaro, who directed classic French farce La Cage aux Folles [1978] and other much-loved films, has died in Paris at the age of 85,” reports the BBC. “After starting out in crime films, he switched to comedies, notably starring the actor Louis de Funes.”

Molinaro was nominated for directing and writing Oscars for La Cage aux Folles, which Roger Ebert called “basically the first sitcom in drag, and the comic turns in the plot are achieved with such clockwork timing that sometimes we’re laughing at what’s funny and sometimes we’re just laughing at the movie’s sheer comic invention. This is a great time at the movies.”

“Though its politics are still quite progressive,” wrote Chris Cabin just a couple of months ago in Slant, “La Cage aux Folles is ultimately a work of classicism, crafted with precision and efficiently paced. Molinaro is no Sturges, but his film moves with an unlabored leanness and exactitude that one can find in The Palm Beach Story or, even more similarly, in Vincente Minnelli’s The Father of the Bride.”

“Molinaro’s La Cage is emblematic of a time in US art-house history when a savvy distributor (in this case, United Artists Classics) might be able to keep a movie planted in theaters long enough to slowly but steadily build a crossover audience, and possibly turn a popular entertainment into a full-fledged pop-culture phenomenon,” notes Joe Leydon. “Indeed, in Houston, La Cage ran long enough at the now-shuttered Greenway 3 Theatre—the better part of a year, actually—to build an audience loyal enough to keep coming back to that venue for more alt-film fare for 20-plus years. Not incidentally, La Cage aux Folles did its bit to make straight moviegoers less uncomfortable with the concept of same-sex marriage, decades before many of those moviegoers were able to accept such unions in real life.”

“Born on May 31, 1928, in Bordeaux, in southwestern France, to a middle-class family, Molinaro began his six-decade-long film and television career in the mid-’40s,” writes Andre Soares in the Alt Film Guide. “Edouard Molinaro’s feature film career took off in 1958, with the release of [Le dos au mur (Back to the Wall)], a crime drama starring Jeanne Moreau and Gérard Oury.”

Deadline: “Notable films include La Chasse a l’Homme (Male Hunt) starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac, Une ravissante idiote (A Ravishing Idiot) starring Brigitte Bardot and Anthony Perkins, Mon oncle Benjamin (My Uncle Benjamin) starring Jacques Brel, and L’emmerdeur starring Brel and Lino Ventura.”

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