Tuesday 12 December 2023


Film and TV specialist Philippe Lombard wrote books on The Persuaders, Starsky and Hutch, The Pink Panther, OSS 117, Tintin, Michel Audiard, Louis de Funès, Quentin Tarantino and many more. In Ça retourne!, published by Éditions La Tengo, he achieves the impossible: to take his readers on an exciting journey through the eternal repetition of cinema history.

After Ça tourne mal!, Ça tourne mal... à Hollywood!, Ça c'est tourné près de chez vous! and Ça tourne mal... à la télé!, a tetralogy about behind the scenes of cinema and television under a thematic angle, Philippe Lombard explores several decades of movie sequels, remakes and sagas in a "spin-off" astutely titled Ça retourne!. After all, the author writes in his foreword that he owes some of his first emotions as a moviegoer to film series. Remaking films first came as an industrial necessity right from the creation of cinema. Then, movie audiences were invited to come back quickly in the theaters with the invention of serials (The Purple Mask, Les Vampires, The Masked Rider...) and the arrival of recurring characters such as Maciste, "The Tramp" played by Charlie Chaplin, or Zorro.
From the 1930s, Universal gave sequels to Dracula, Frankenstein and its other monsters. The Invisible Man, Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan and even Lassie took part in the Second World War. Film series and remakes continued to prosper throughout the 20th century to the present day, where superheroes and Disney's live-action treatment of their animated classics epitomize the trend. In a chapter about directors and remakes, Philippe Lombard examines the filmographies of Marcel Pagnol, Akira Kurosawa, Quentin Tarantino (for his influences), Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock, etc. "Franchises" can exceed their sell-by date, like Dracula (with Christopher Lee), The Pink Panther (with or without Peter Sellers), Emmanuelle (with two "m" or just one), Death Wish or Freddy.
In France, Jean-Luc Godard "destroyed" the Lemmy Caution movies with Alphaville (1965) (1). La cage aux folles triumphed on the Parisian stage in 1973 before becoming three movies co-produced with Italy between 1978 and 1985 and an American version (The Birdcage, 1996). The U.S. love to remake French movies, see The Woman in Red in 1984 (Un éléphant, ça trompe énormément, 1976) or Three Men and a Baby in 1987 (Trois hommes et un couffin, 1985). Sometimes, imitation is discussed in court (The Last Shark, Running Man, Lock Out). Philippe Lombard also looks at the "Turksploitation" phenomenon and the curious case of the fake Terence Hill and Bud Spencer. Ça retourne! concludes with the evocation of Raiders!, a fan film based on Raiders of the Lost Ark.
As always with a book by Philippe Lombard,  Ça retourne! is well researched, smartly thought, pleasantly written and tremendously interesting. French illustrator and graphic artist Mr Choubi (real name Patrick Chevalier) is behind the astounding artistic design of the book. Philippe Lombard is a regular collaborator for the magazine Schnock and other publications.
(1) Seven French films (1952-1963) based on the novels written by Peter Cheyney. Directed by Bernard Borderie, they starred American actor Eddie Constantine as Lemmy Caution. He reprised the role for Alphaville.
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