Death of Serge Korber, director of An idiot in Paris and of L’Homme orchestra with Louis de Funès

DISAPPEARANCE – The French filmmaker died on Sunday January 23 at the age of 85. An unclassifiable man of cinema, he wanted all his life to reconcile the spirit of the new wave of Truffaut and Varda with the comic or satirical verve of Lautner and Audiard.

He admired with the same sincerity François Truffaut, Michel Audiard, Georges Lautner, – to whom he recently paid tribute in a documentary -, Louis de Funès and Jean-Louis Trintignant. Unclassifiable filmmaker, Serge Korber died on January 23. He was 85 years old.

Proof of his cinematographic eclecticism, he will leave to posterity some outstanding films such as The Seventeenth Heaven (1966), dialogued by Pascal Jardin with Jean-Louis Trintignant, but also An idiot in Paris (1967), put into words this time by Michel Audiard with Jean Lefebvre, Dany Carrel and Bernard Blier. And finally an almost surreal musical fresco The Man Orchestra, a film cut to excess by Louis de Funès.

Serge Korber was born on February 1, 1936 in Paris into a modest Jewish family. During the war, he had to take refuge in the south of France to escape the Nazi anti-Semitic hunts. Integrating the young communists at the Liberation, he discovers with them, he who has not done higher education, the genius of Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Henry Miller and then very quickly the great poets of French literature.

In the 1950s, he founded a cabaret, Le Cheval d’or, at the foot of the Contrescarpe, where he liked to introduce beginner artists as talented and different as Anne Sylvestre, Pierre Perret, Raymond Devos, Pierre Richard and the prince of nonsense Boby Lapointe. The legend says that it is there that François Truffaut will listen for the first time to the author ofAvanies and Raspberries, whom he will soon choose as one of the composers and performers of his cult Shoot the pianist.

From new wave to pop culture

The new wave is initially interested in the amazing Serge Korber. Truffaut offers him a small role in Slacker. Agnès Varda chose him to play Maurice, the plumitif in Cleo from 5 to 7. In 1965, he produced his first major cinematographic work, The Seventeenth Heaven. Here he brings together an exceptional cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Marie Dubois, Marcel Dalio and Jean Lefebvre. The film’s title says it all about its iconoclasm.

A year later, he adapted An Idiot in Paris by Rene Fallet. Michel Audiard is in charge. The replies are decisive. A man named Patouilloux asserts: “I am a veteran, socialist activist and bistro!Serge Korber immortalizes the Halles de Paris, the banter of Dany Carrel and the brilliant stupidity of Jean Lefebvre.

In 1970, he gave Louis de Funès the opportunity to become The Man Orchestra. The film is an ode to what is not yet called pop culture. Of this musical comedy out of time and out of fashion, Serge Korber will say in 2001: “In the spirit of Louis de Funès, The Man Orchestra was a very inflated project: a musical with thirty-year-old guys on pop music by a little virtuoso with revolutionary methods. Compared to the gendarmes of Saint-Tropez, it was almost avant-garde! Anarchist of the film, avant-garde, therefore, Serge Korber will have at bottom with The Man Orchestra signed the film that most resembles him. Unclassifiable and inspired.

An idiot in Paris by Serge Korber, in 1967, with Jean Lefebvre, Dany Carrel, Bernard Blier….

The Man Orchestra by Serge Korber, in 1970, with Louis de Funès…


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