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The Elusive Corporal (1962)
"Le caporal épinglé" (original title)

 |  Comedy, Drama  |  23 May 1962 (France)
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An upper-class corporal from Paris is captured by the Germans when they invade France in 1940. Assisted and accompanied by characters as diverse as a morose dairy farmer, a waiter, a myopic... See full summary »



(adaptation), (novel), 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Le caporal / The Corporal
Claude Brasseur ...
'Papa' / 'Pop'
O.E. Hasse ...
Le voyageur ivre dans le train
Jacques Jouanneau ...
Sacha Briquet ...
L'évadé grimé en vielle femme
Raymond Jourdan ...
Hippolyte Dupieu
Guy Bedos ...
Le prisonnier qui bégaye
Philippe Castelli ...
Le prisonnier électricien
Gérard Darrieu ...
L'homme qui louche / The cross-eyed man
Lucien Raimbourg ...
L'employé de la gare
François Darbon ...
Un paysan / The last man
Cornelia Froboess ...
Erika Schmidt (as Conny Froboess)
Elisabeth Marcus
Elisabeth Stiepl ...
(as Elisabeth Stiepel)


An upper-class corporal from Paris is captured by the Germans when they invade France in 1940. Assisted and accompanied by characters as diverse as a morose dairy farmer, a waiter, a myopic intellectual, a working-class Parisian, and a German dental assistant, the corporal tries to escape from prison camps, sometimes making it a few yards, sometimes reaching the French border. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


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Release Date:

23 May 1962 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Elusive Corporal  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Referenced in Mississippi Mermaid (1969) See more »

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User Reviews

Pure Cynicism
11 March 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Le Caporal opens with a montage of WWII documentary footage. "Honor and glory to the survivors" provides a nice interplay between themes in Grande Illusion and more personal philosophies regarding the condition of the human race (Renoir's 'humanism'). The drama moves at a relatively slow pace and the performances are full of affect. More documentary footage has a voice-over narration in French but from the perspective of the Nazis. There is an element of self-reflexivity to the film not just through the use of documentary footage and a more psychologically-based stylistic system but also infused into the themes of coercion and resistance. Le Caporal is more concerned with individualism than Grande Illusion which focused on group dynamics. This is underscored by the obsessive compulsive worry that one character shows for the safety of his cows, regardless of what is happening in the moment. The story does not track the multiple characters but instead folds their offscreen progress in with the corporal at regular intervals. He becomes a transient in their lives (hence elusive). There is a disconnect in this regard and a repetition to the structure of the narrative that underscores this disconnect. The graceful allusions in Regle with Schumacher are replaced by purely cynical portrayals of Germans (the drunken warmonger states "I'm probably a better German than you all"). Scorsese commented that Le Caporal Epingle is "in a different emotional key than La Grande Illusion".

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