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|Also Known As:||Will Vedder,William H. Vedder||Died:|
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This prolific French writer and director originally intended to become a doctor but switched to journalism before finding his calling on the stage and screen. Francis Veber began his writing career while serving in the military, contributing to BLED, a publication of the Algerian Army. After his military discharge, he worked as a radio reporter and then segued to writing scripts for the TV series "L'Agence interim." In 1968, Veber enjoyed his first stage success with the play "L'Enlevement/The Kidnapping," which enjoyed an eight-month run in Paris. His second play, "Le Contrat/The Contract" led to a scripting assignment for the short film "Appelez-moi Mathilde/Call Me Mathilde" (1970).
With 1971's "Il etait une fois un flic/There Once Was a Cop" (1971), Veber began his feature career in earnest. For much of the 1970s, he served as writer of a number of successful, farcical comedies that recalled the work of Neil Simon in that most revolved around odd couples. Among his more popular scripts were "Le Grand blond avec une chaussure noire/The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe" (1973, directed by Yves Robert), "La Cage aux folles" (1978, directed by Edouard Molinaro), for which he shared an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Jean-Jacques Annaud's "Coup de tete/Hot Head" (1979). He made his directorial debut with "Le Jouet" in 1976. Veber's infectious comedies include three pairings of Pierre Richard and Gerard Depardieu: "Le Chevre/The Goat" (1982), "Les Comperes" (1983) and "Les Fugitifs" (1986). Several of these proved so successful in his native France that they were remade in Hollywood.
By the 80s, in fact, Veber was already gaining a toehold in Tinseltown, due partly to the success of "La Cage aux folles." No less a talent than Billy Wilder used Veber's play "Le Contrat/The Contract" as the basis for what became his last film--"Buddy Buddy" (1981). While Jim Burrows' "Partners" and Richard Donner's version of "The Toy" (both 1982) both proved uneven (as did the 1985 Tom Hanks vehicle "The Man With One Red Shoe"), Veber continued to be courted by Hollywood. He made his American directorial debut with "Three Fugitives" (1989), based on his 1986 hit. "Out on a Limb" (1991), however, was an artistic disaster that dampened Veber's US career. He went on to pen the script for the Depardieu comedy "My Father, the Hero" (1994) before returning to France where he enjoyed renewed success with "Le Jaguar" (1996), a polished revisiting of his theme of mismatched buddies. Utilizing his own boulevard comedy, Veber crafted one of biggest hits and most artistically satisfying films in his long career with 1998's "Le Diner de cons/The Dinner Game." Taking a fairly simple premise--a group of friends meet each Wednesday for dinner with the proviso that everyone is to bring a "world-class dimwit" as a guest--Veber spun a humorous and entertaining comedy that offered strong roles for Thierry Lhermitte and Jacques Villert. It was only natural that Hollywood immediately snapped up the remake rights.
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