Edouard Molinaro has been directing movies for 40 years, but
ask him the one that he's the most famous for - the original film
version of La Cage Aux Folles - and the least said about that the
better. "It's not a film I'm especially proud of"
retorts the 70-year old filmmaker from his Paris office.
"I've always hated this brand of vaudevillian humour. I
don't have that background nor the kind of humour needed to
The main reason he agreed to do the film, he adds, "was
to remain a part of the film industry. That was all." He has
even less time for a Hollywood that turned La Cage into The
Birdcage, the third of Molinaro's films to receive the Hollywood
treatment. "They don't possess any original ideas, so they
need to destroy ours. The Birdcage was a disaster and should
never have been made."
"I didn't want to make
a boring, historical drama, so I chose to depict 10 years in
his life, years which showed him to be a great writer and
There's little doubt that Hollywood won't be rushing to
'Americanise' his latest film, a historical comedy/drama about
the life of French poet and playwright Beaumarchais in the film
Beaumarchais the Scoundrel. "He was a man ahead of his
times", the director says emphatically. The film traces 10
years in the life of the creator of the famous Figaro,
immortalised in The Barber of Seville and its sequel, The
Marriage of Figaro. "I didn't want to make a boring,
historical drama, so I chose to depict 10 years in his life,
years which showed him to be a great writer and political
Set in the courts of Louis XV and the soon-to-be-beheaded
Louis XVI, the film was partly based on a play, but Molinaro says
he wanted to make a film relevant to contemporary audiences.
"It's a film that also examines the cynicism and hypocrisies
of politics. It is also a story of a genuine revolutionary whose
writings partly inspired the French Revolution."
Molinaro is a former industrial and documentary filmmaker, who
made his feature debut with "Evidence in Concrete"
(1957). Some of his other films include Oscar (1967 - and later
remade in Hollywood as an unfortunate comic vehicle for Sylvester
Stallone), the classic Mon Oncle, Sunday Lovers and The Supper.
His fluid camera technique and light directorial touch were put
to good use in his sensitive, humorous portrait of gay life, in
La Cage aux Folles (1978). He also directed the first of the two
sequels La Cage aux Folles II "for the money", he
"To get a decent film
made here which doesn't mock its audience, is a miracle. What
French cinema lacks is a real quality that still appeals to
As a director now for some four decades, one would imagine
that Monsieur Molinaro would have no difficulty getting a film
off the ground. Not so. "To get a decent film made here
which doesn't mock its audience, is a miracle. What French cinema
lacks is a real quality that still appeals to the masses. The
trouble with this industry, is that there's an intellectual arm
and a commercial arm; there's no real centre of quality."
But the director is trying to change that. He says his next film
will be a complete departure from everything that has come
before, especially Beaumarchais. "I'm now 70, so it stands
to reason that at this stage of my life I should be making a film
about adolescence, and it will be a comedy."
Beaumarchais the Scoundrel, Australian release: June 26, 1997