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Because comedy doesn’t always translate, some of cinema’s best-loved clowns are barely known outside their native lands. A few of Fernandel’s more than 100 films proved popular outside France, but today the long-faced funnyman is remembered principally at home. Tonight’s screening of one of his best, 1957’s Senechal the Magnificent, shows why Fernandel was France’s king of comedy for decades. The comic plays a lousy actor who, failing to get work, starts imitating people he sees on the street; the stunt gets him hauled into court but then earns him a place on stage. It’s an ideal role for a performer who was the Jim Carrey of his time, known for his astonishing transformations of his rubbery features. Senechal screens at 7 p.m. at the Embassy of France’s La Maison Francaise, 4101 Reservoir Road NW. $5. (202) 944-6091. (Mark Jenkins)