Pierre Étaix (1928-2016) was a French filmmaker, actor, and comedian who was known for his slapstick-style physical comedy. He was born in Roanne, France, and went on to study architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It was here that Étaix discovered his passion for the performing arts and began to focus on his career in comedy and film.
Étaix’s first foray into show business came as a mime, performing on the streets of Paris. He soon became well-known for his work, and was eventually hired by famed French director Jacques Tati to appear in several of his films, starting with Mon Oncle in 1958. Étaix also wrote and directed several of his own short films which were widely praised for their comedic elements.
In 1962, Étaix made his feature-length debut with the film The Suitor. He wrote and directed the film, and starred in it as well. The film was a success with both critics and audiences, and it garnered Étaix the jury prize at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Étaix continued to write, direct, and star in a series of successful comedic films. He worked with some of the greatest names in French cinema, including Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol and Marcel Ophuls. His films often featured elaborate sight gags and physical comedy, as well as his own brand of sophisticated wit.
Étaix’s career was sadly interrupted due to a series of legal disputes with the French production company, Specta Films. These disputes prevented him from releasing any of his films for more than a decade. However, in the late 2000s, Étaix was able to make a comeback with the release of a restored version of The Suitor.
Pierre Étaix was a beloved figure in the French film industry. His work was admired for its wit, charm, and physical comedy. He was a true master of the art of silent comedy, and his influence can still be seen in the films of today.