The Films of Pierre Étaix: The Laughter Returns

DECEMBER 20-21, 23, 28-30

“A master of screen comedy. He is every bit as worthy of study and praise as Tati, yet he is all but unknown today.” LEONARD MALTIN

“Étaix is a revelation: hilarious, subversive, deadpan. You can see in his work the seeds of everything we’ve laughed at during the last 60-plus years.” KEN BURNS

NEW 35mm PRINTS A gag writer for Jacques Tati; an Academy Award winner after just his second comic short; a close creative partner of the great French screenwriter and frequent Buñuel collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière; a gifted physical comedian and director responsible for a much-acclaimed (but long-unavailable) body of work in the 1960s; an actor and performer whose many screen credits include Fellini’s The Clowns and Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre —Pierre Étaix may very well be, as the Los Angeles Times recently called him, “the funniest filmmaker you’ve never heard of.”

“Pierre Étaix is back, by popular demand. Jerry Lewis acclaimed him as a genius and Terry Gilliam is a devoted fan, but until very recently, the 83-year-old Étaix, a comedian, magician and clown who Paris-Match called 'the French Buster Keaton', was in danger of being forgotten entirely. His films are timeless treasures of whimsical, physical comedy, but copyright difficulties meant that his movies had not been distributed, let alone released on home video, for decades. Étaix's signature on a disastrous distribution contract cast his films into oblivion, but 56,000 more, including those of Jean-Luc Godard, David Lynch and Woody Allen, on a petition in 2009, have rescued them for posterity. The end to this long-running legal dispute should be a cause for celebration among film fans, even though many, quite understandably, will never have seen one of his movies before. .... Thanks to support from the public and his fellow filmmakers, Étaix's films have been fully restored (under his supervision, by Technicolor and Groupama Gan) and are being shown again around the world.” PAMELA HUTCHINSON, THE GUARDIAN

“Keaton? Lloyd? Tati? Inspired by the first two and protégé and gag writer for the third (he also penned Tati’s trademark cartoon silhouette), Pierre Étaix (pronounced “ay-TEX”; born 1928) has had a lifelong love affair with silent cinema and the circus, combining the two in a series of brilliantly-inventive '60s comedies — all co-scripted with the legendary Jean-Claude Carrière (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The Tin Drum, The Return of Martin Guerre, etc. etc.). All but unknown since he stopped making them, Étaix’s hilarious oeuvre is finally back in circulation again, after decades of rights disputes.” FILM FORUM NEW YORK


Click for film notes + showtimes

Recent Showings

“The funniest and most lyrical of Étaix’s films” stars the director as a businessman whose world is turned upside down when he meets his new, beautiful young secretary.
Possibly the best of Étaix’s features, Pierre Étaix’s second feature was inspired by the arts of clowning and silent cinema, with nods to Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.
Pierre Étaix — à la his mentor Jacques Tati, or Chaplin, or Buster Keaton — is hilariously at odds with modern life in this sketch-like four-act film, co-scripted by Jean-Claude Carrière.
Étaix' love of the great silent film comedians is evident in this gag-filled, almost dialogue-free tale of an astronomy geek who sets out to find himself a wife.
In the aftermath of France's social-political upheavals in May 1968, Étaix set out with a documentary camera to get the lay of the land, and discovered the French ... on vacation!