The "ronds de cuir" of the title refer to the exact same thing, "rounds of leather", looking as a flat swimming buoy made of leather with hole in center, on which people working seated all the day as precisely in the Administration, - and here is the story of a fake minister to make fun at all, hence the title nickname - , use under their bottom to stay above contact with the seat, for two purposes. First is to avoid with time the tissue bottom of their pants to shine as used denouncing their (lack of) activity, second is medical to avoid the heat of staying seated for hours, weeks, months, years, occasioning blister or hemorrhoids. About the Folies-Bergère referred to, the name Folies is simply coined with Bergère (sheperdess) but with the simple fact of being close to the Rue Bergère, and the Cité Bergère, which at one time was directly leading to the facade of the music-hall. See more »
"Ronds De Cuir" is French slang for " pen-pushers" or "pencil pushers" .This expression has become old -fashioned now;but the state employees are still considered "privilege people " because it means job security.
The director felt compelled to warn his 1937 audience that Georges Courteline (who wrote the book) was not against the state employees (he was one of 'em) as he was not against the army (he was a soldier ).
The pen pushers are looked upon as parasites ,people who make a lot of money by doing nothing ,or something which has nothing to do with the affairs of state;they cheat on their wives and husbands (oddly ,the pretty girl -Josette Day ,La Belle in Cocteau's movie- chooses a lover who is much less handsome than her young husband ),dream of promotions, spend the whole movie to find back a file which was lots among tons and tons of papers .And one of these men is writing a variety show for "les Folies Moutonnières " (litterally :the sheepish follies ;a spoof on "Les Folies Bergères " (shepherdesses follies) .
In spite of the very high rating ,I do not think it's a very good movie of the time(very stagy performances and directing) ,one of the best era (if not the best) of the whole French cinema . It is ,like "Les Gaietés De L'Escadron" (another Courteline 's novel about military service),an old -fashioned story .The second part is more enjoyable,because there is Arletty and when she appears ,she makes it all worthwhile
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