Jean-Marie Poiré shoots Santa Claus is a Stinker in 1981.
Portrait of a film: Christmas Eve at the headquarters of “SOS Distress Friendship”. While a desperate man commits suicide over the phone, all sorts of characters arrive unannounced at the association’s offices. The evening turns into a nightmare when the technician repairing the elevator is accidentally killed… The film is based on an eponymous play produced by the dinner theater company “Le Splendid”, which had already turned to cinema with great success in 1978 with French Fried Vacation. The film performs well in theaters, but television and VHS will make it a cult film, especially because of its hilarious dialogues and one-liners.
Portrait of an Era: filmed after the victory of the Left in the elections of 1981, very politically incorrect, the film talks without taboos about poverty and exclusion, charities and social hypocrisy. It is also a denunciation of homophobia: as the AIDS epidemic is starting to spread, gay associations are fighting against discrimination. It is the golden age of dinner theater, of small independent groups who handle skilfully humor and social criticism. The “Café de la Gare” and the “Splendid” are the leading groups, in which cinema will find a pool of actors: Gérard Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere, Miou Miou and Josiane Balasko, Gérard Jugnot and Michel Blanc.
Portrait of a filmmaker: the son of producer Alain Poiré, Jean-Marie Poiré was a rock singer and a photographer, as well as a screenwriter for Michel Audiard, Georges Lautner and Robert Lamoureux. Santa Claus is a Stinker is his fourth film; he has already shot, with Josiane Balasko, The Little Wheedlers and Gentlemen Prefer Fat Girls. Josiane Balasko introduces him to the cast of the “Splendid”. He will make afterwards Gramps is in the Resistance in 1983, and most notably The Visitors in 1993, a long lasting record of attendance in France with 13 million entries.