Why am I in an international mood today writing this article? Maybe it’s because I just watched Bridget’s Sexiest Beaches. Maybe it’s because I drank two bottles of Pinot Noir. Maybe it’s both of those. Yeah, alright, it’s both of those. But anyways, I’ve compiled a list of the 10 best Frenchman you’ll see on film, and I have to say it turned out better than I thought. I know no one reads my little preambles here, but I tried to exclude movies that are actually French movies, because that’s kind of cheating, but I’m sure that won’t stop you from shouting out “No Gerard Depardieu???” Oh, I love you guys anyways.
10) Napoleon (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure)
The minute French world-conqueror has been featured in many films over the years, but his most memorable appearance had to have been in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Abducted from his own time period to help with a high school history project, Napoleon got to experience the wonders of the 1980s, which apparently involves copious amounts of ice cream and water slides.
Stereotype factor: 3 – It’s about time Napoleon let loose a little.
9) Skinner (Ratatouille)
He’s the chef who hates young American boys and their cooking rats. He may be small in stature, but has an accompanying Napoleon complex (see above) so large it overshadows everyone else in the film. Ultimately Skinner’s attempts at foiling Remy and Linguini’s cooking mastery fails, and he gets his just desserts. Har har.
Stereotype factor: 8 – but a 10 if he were Italian.
8 ) Didier Revol (Son of Rambow)
The coolest French exchange student to ever set foot on British shores, his white streaked hair and red leather had the English kids worshiping him the moment he set foot on the island. Girls lined up to make out with him, guys clamored to carry his books, but ultimately he was bored with it all, until he got cast in a supporting role in Son of Rambow that is.
Stereotype factor: 5 – Suave yes, pansy no, but he definitely looked the part.
7) Jean Villeneuve (The Patriot)
The French officer that helped Benjamin Martin fabricate historical events that led to the victory of the American Revolution in The Patriot, he defied all stereotypes and fought hard alongside the Colonials during the struggle. And looked faaaabulous while doing it.
Stereotype factor: 2 – Hey I said he was “defying all the stereotypes” right? He was a damn good fighter, but is still a two because of his devotion to pretty powder blue ruffles..
6) Jean Girard (Talladega Nights)
He’s everything Ricky Bobby hates about the French, and that’s because Sasha Baron Cohen’s Girard IS everything people hate about the French, true or not. He’s an effeminate, Perrier drinking, man-kissing “frog” as Bobby (and most of the South) would say, and it rankles him right up that he’s a better race car driver than he is.
Stereotype factor: 9 – Just one waving white flag away from a perfect 10.
5) Paul Martel (Unfaithful)
The hyper-sexy Frenchman is great at seducing Diane Lane, but really bad at covering it up. If he was a little less concentrated on his hair and a little more focused on secrecy, maybe he could have avoided getting his head bashed in by Richard Gere.
Stereotype factor: 7 – This would be the “all French men are super sexy and romantic” stereotype that plagues the minds of women everywhere.
4) The Fox (Ocean’s 12 and 13)
All by his lonesome he’s almost, almost better than Danny Ocean and his ever expanding crew. He outsmarts them time and time again, but his laser dancing antics turn out to fall just short of Ocean’s master plans.
Stereotype factor: 5 – Charming, loves dancing, but I don’t think “awesome jewel thief” is really a French stereotype
3) Alain Charnier (The French Connection)
Who would have thought the French were major heroin suppliers to the US back in the 70s? Not me, but I guess drugs were so widespread back then, even Luxembourg smuggled a joint in or two. The French Connection, as it were, was spearheaded by Alain Charnier, and even though he’s chased around for the majority of the film by some crack NYC detectives, he ultimately gets away without a scratch.
Stereotype factor: 1 – A French drug lord? Really?
2) Leon (The Professional)
Leon is hard-blooded (is hard-blooded a real phrase? Sure) killer with a heart of gold. He takes in little orphan Natalie Portman after her family is killed by assassins, and defends her to his own death. Sure the movie is reeking with some strange pedophilia vibes (if you don’t believe me, watch ten year old Portman strut around in a bra singing “Like a Virgin”), but it doesn’t overshadow Leon’s heroic prowess.
Stereotype factor: 0 – He’s a fearless hitman, with almost no level of suave and sophistication. Are you sure he’s French?
1) Inspector Jacques Clouseau (The Pink Panther)
Yes, Peter Sellers, no, not Steven Martin. Please. Now that that’s out of the way, Jacques is by far the greatest Frenchman on this list. Critics have often stupidly attacked Clouseau for being the “protypical bumbling Frenchman,” but that’s like saying that Mr. Bean sums up England, or Larry the Cable Guy represents America. Hm, actually they might be onto something. But for all his foolishness, Clouseau always solved the case, and proved himself as effective an adversary as Jason Bourne or James Bond, albeit completely by accident.
Stereotype factor: 7 – Yeah, he is the prototypical bumbling Frenchman I suppose. And he did tend to surrender a lot.
No, don’t say Amelie.