These days movies tend to be based on comic books or computer games. In 1936 it was a hit song for Ray Ventura and his band that gave rise to Henry Wulschleger's film of the same name. The link between the song and the film is tenuous at best, but Wulschleger milks it for all he's worth: we get Ventura performing the song on camera during the opening credits, followed by the cast singing it while they briefly act out the comic anecdote that it tells: how the lady of the manor is informed of the total conflagration of her ancestral home by her servants, who break the news to her by slow degrees, to soften the blow. The song is repeatedly referenced throughout the movie and is reprised at the end by the main character, and then by the band again as the credits roll.
In spite of all that, the film has little to do with the song. The marquise (a cameo by Marguerite Moreno) appears only briefly, and the story is really about one Yonnik Le Ploumanech (Noël-Noël), a gormless but good-natured Breton yokel who was the servant chiefly responsible for the fire in the first scene. Now out of work and in need of money to marry his fiancée, he earns some coins from tourists by busking in a traditional Brittany costume. He can only play one tune on his bagpipes, but a producer from a Paris theatre is passing by and hires him on the spot for a show about regional music. Le Ploumanech is whisked off to the big city to find fame and fortune. Or so he thinks...
The only other review of this film I could find describes it as a "nanar" (turkey). I think that's a bit unfair. OK, the plot is silly and contrived, and the direction is nothing special. But Le Ploumanech, as played by Noël-Noël in a putty nose, is a rather splendid comic creation, sweet but over-eager and accident-prone, a little reminiscent of the silent star Harry Langdon. And then there's that song, which really is extremely catchy. "Tout va très bien, madame la marquise, tout va très bien, tout va très bien..."
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