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La Vie heureuse de Léopold Z.

(The Merry World of Léopold Z.)

Year: 1965
Language: French
Format: 35mm Black & White
Runtime: 69 min
Director: Gilles Carle
Executive Producer: Jacques Bobet
Writer: Gilles Carle
Cinematographer: Jean-Claude Labrecque
Editor: Werner Nold
Sound: Joseph Champagne
Music: Paul Margerie
Cast: Guy L'Écuyer, Paul Hébert, Suzanne Valéry, Monique Joy, Jacques Poulin, Gilles Latulippe
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada

One Christmas Eve in Montreal during a major snowstorm, snowplow driver Leopold Z. Tremblay (Guy L’Écuyer) is busy clearing the streets after a heavy snowfall. But there is more in store today for this simple, amiable man: he must also find time to secure a loan, buy his wife a fur coat, take his son to choir practice, meet his New York cousin at the station, and watch her rehearse her nightclub act – all while evading detection by his boss. In the end, after everything has fallen neatly into place, Léopold even manages to attend midnight Mass.

Gilles Carle’s first feature was produced under conditions similar to that of Don Owen’s Nobody Waved Good-bye (1964), in that it was also begun as a documentary short. However, in contrast to Owen’s improvisational approach, Carle carefully rehearsed each scene and spread the shooting out over an eighteen-month period.

Carle’s deft, whimsical comedy is as rooted in Montreal as Owen’s is in Toronto; the milieu and the characters are closely observed with small, telling touches and the humour always seems to stem from them and not to be imposed on them. This lively, spirited film also features a brilliant performance from Guy L’Écuyer as a classic example of the Québécois common man. La Vie heureuse de Léopold Z was warmly received in Quebec and won the Grand Prix at the Festival du cinéma canadien.