Jean Lapointe was a towering figure on Québec's cultural scene, a great and multi-talented artist. In the course of his long career, he made his mark in music, comedy and film.
Lapointe wasn't just a talented artist. He was a kind, caring, socially engaged person. Having struggled with alcoholism himself, he launched initiatives to help people with substance abuse challenges. His desire to get involved and make a difference also led him to the Senate in the early 2000s, where he served for 9 years.
In the movies, Lapointe demonstrated his enormous range in many comedies, the roles for which he is best known, but also in subtle dramatic performances in films such as Les ordres (Orders) and La sarrasine. His portrayal of Clermont Boudreau, a union activist who finds himself suddenly stripped of his rights in Les ordres, stands as one of the most wrenching performances in the history of Québec cinema.
Éléphant is dedicating its first newsletter of 2023 to his memory by featuring 13 restored feature films in which he starred and two exclusive interviews he granted us.
Jean Lapointe answered the Éléphant questionnaire, based on the famous Proust questionnaire.
Michel Brault revived at Cannes Classics.
Interview with Michel Brault, Claude Gauthier and Jean Lapointe about the film Les ordres (Orders).
YUL 871 (Montreal Flight 871)
(Jacques Godbout, 1966)
With Les Jérôlas - NFB
A European engineer passing through Montréal has to wait two days for a business meeting. To kill time, he wanders the streets and searches for his parents, from whom he was separated at the age of four during the war. In the course of his quest, he meets an 11-year-old girl and a young beauty. The chance encounters bring him face to face with himself.
Deux femmes en or
(Two Women in Gold)
(Claude Fournier, 1970)
For a change of pace, two suburban wives set out to seduce all the visitors that come to their doors while their husbands are out. One of the biggest box-office hits in the history of Québec cinema.
Les chats bottés (Master Cats)
(Claude Fournier, 1971)
Rosaire and Alex know a thousand tricks to pick up girls and get money. As they try to get ahead, improbable situations arise. (RVCQ website)
(Marcel Carrière, 1973) - NFB
Paul and Yvonne are two Quebecers, neither bourgeois nor proletarian, who try to find happiness in spite of everything. Their misadventures make for one of the most irresistibly funny and moving films in Québec cinema.
Il était une fois dans l'Est (Once Upon a Time in the East)
(André Brassard, 1973)
Germaine is the lucky winner of boxes of bonus stamps. She gets her sisters-in-law, neighbors and friends to help her glue the stamps into the booklets. Hosanna realizes her desire to become Cleopatra for a contest at the transvestite cabaret she frequents. This two-track film, peopled with characters from Michel Tremblay plays, is a dark and powerful depiction of dead-end lives.
Les ordres (Orders)
(Michel Brault, 1974)
Half fiction, half documentary, Les ordres is based on the testimonials of some 50 people imprisoned following the imposition of the War Measures Act in October 1970. We follow five fictional characters (three men and two women) based on those accounts, from arrest to release. Winner of the Best Director award at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival.
La pomme, la queue et les pépins (The Apple, the Stem and the Seeds)
(Claude Fournier, 1974)
A formerly vigorous man suddenly becomes impotent on his honeymoon and struggles to regain his virility. His wife, his friends and many other people have suggestions, with hilarious results. In the end, an eminent professor figures out the problem.
J.A. Martin photographe
(Jean Beaudin, 1976) - NFB
At the beginning of the century, a wife and mother accompanies her photographer husband on a tour of rural Québec and they rediscover the bond that unites them. Monique Mercure won the Palme d'or for best actress at Cannes for her performance. "This subdued story, all in halftones, gradations and nuance, is enhanced by cinematography that adds another layer of subtlety." (Michel Grodent, 1978)
L'eau chaude l'eau frette
(Hot Water Cold Water)
(André Forcier, 1976)
In a working-class neighbourhood, a group of teenagers are plotting a murder while Polo the local loan shark is preparing to celebrate his 43rd birthday. L'eau chaude l'eau frette is a poetics of cruelty, a celebration of anarchy in which friend and foe, young and old, come together to party, wash their dirty linen in public, and settle old scores.
Ti-Mine, Bernie pis la gang
(Marcel Carrière, 1977) - NFB
An episodic dramedy about the social and family lives of two brothers. One is a married man and the other has just left a religious order. Told with verve, the film is a compelling depiction of social mores that is also entertaining from beginning to end.
Une histoire inventée
(An Imaginary Tale)
(André Forcier, 1990)
Gaston, a trumpet player in decline, returns to Montréal from Cleveland. Beautiful Florence, who is always followed around by her 40 lovers and has an unrequited passion for Gaston, is delighted that he's back. Unfortunately, Gaston remains indifferent to her charms. Worse still, he falls in love with Soledad, Florence's actress daughter, and tries to console her. The outcome will be tragic.
Ding et Dong le film
(Ding & Dong)
(Alain Chartrand, 1990)
Two aspiring comedians are struggling to get by until a stroke of good fortune turns them into millionaires. They are able to realize their dream and buy a theatre, where they stage a zany version of Corneille's Le Cid, but their new acquaintances threaten to pit them against each other and break up their friendship. They work things out in the end and find their true path and showbiz success by forming the comedy duo Ding et Dong.
(Paul Tana, 1992)
Giuseppe and Ninetta run a boarding house for their Sicilian compatriots. One day, Giuseppe stands up for one of his boarders and accidentally kills Théo, the son-in-law of his French-Canadian best friend. The tragedy will exacerbate ethnic tensions and change lives forever.
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