Belatedly, and suddenly, Robert became a critics' darling.
There were other Robert films, however, that I think were greater achievements, despite their self-effacing modesty - particularly "La Guerre des boutons"/"War of the Buttons"(1962), based on Louis Pergaud's much-filmed novel, and "Salut l'artiste" (1973), a light farce which teamed Marcello Mastroianni and Jean Rochefort to perfection as two working actors often trapped in thankless roles.
Arguably, Robert's best film - and certainly my personal favorite - is "Alexandre le bienheureux" (1968), which was known first as "Very Happy Alexander" and then simply "Alexander" during its brief U.S. life in 1969.
I'm not sure the same film could be made today, given how driven everyone seems to be (including slackers). A contributor on IMDb in assessing the film refers to an essay, "Le Droit à la Paresse"/"The Right to Laziness", that Paul Laforgue wrote in 1880 in which Laforgue offered a positive definition for laziness, something that is generally considered as one of the biggest vices in the world.
Robert follows the same logic in his little film, which remains timeless in its appeal. It is hugely watchable and, despite its surface goofiness and anarchy, has a forbidden message worth savoring.
That great bear of an actor, Philippe Noiret, who died of cancer in 2006 at age 76, is unaccountably light and fizzy in the title role of a humble farmer who is henpecked and overworked by his ambitious new wife (Françoise Brion), known only (and humorously) as La Grande. She supervises him with a walkie-talkie. Poor Alexander's only friend is a little dog (played by a remarkable pooch named Kaly), of which La Grande, of course, disapproves.
As it turns out, Agathe is as lazy as Alexander. They make a perfect - or imperfect - couple, living slovenly ever after.
"Alexandre le bienheureux" has never been released in this country on home entertainment in any format. I have a beta copy of the film made from a subtitled 16-mm print. It remains vital as long as my reliable old betamax remains operable.
The film was never made and Candy, alas, died in 1994. Too bad. It would have been perfect for Candy. Actually, it would have been a better fit for Goodman.
All in all, formidable!
About the artwork. From top: The original French poster art for Yves Robert's "Alexandre le bienheureux"; two American display ads, before and after the title change; Kaly; Marlene Jobert; Françoise Brion, Philippe Noiret, Jobert and Kaly pose on set; Noiret and Brion; Noiret and Kaly in a representative scene from the film, and a favorite filmmaker, Yves Robert, behind a huge moustache, directing.