6.9/10
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Thomas the Impostor (1965)

Thomas l'imposteur (original title)
In the First World War, when Paris is expected to fall to the Germans, the attractive widow, Princesse de Bormes, organises a convoy of cars to evacuate the wounded from the front, and ... See full summary »

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(from the novel by), (adaptation) | 4 more credits »
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
La princesse de Bormes
Jean Servais ...
Fabrice Rouleau ...
Sophie Darès ...
Henriette
Rosy Varte ...
Madame Valiche
Bernard Lavalette ...
Le docteur Gentil
Jean-Roger Caussimon ...
L'évêque
Hélène Dieudonné ...
La tante de Thomas
Jean Ozenne ...
Le comte d'Orange
Serge Rousseau
Jean Henry
André Méliès ...
Le vieil homme du bal
Raymond Jourdan ...
Le médecin militaire
Jean Magis ...
Paget
Claudine Dalmas ...
(as Claude Dalmas)
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Storyline

In the First World War, when Paris is expected to fall to the Germans, the attractive widow, Princesse de Bormes, organises a convoy of cars to evacuate the wounded from the front, and bring them back to her villa in Paris to recuperate. The authorities will not give them passes until an innocent 16-year-old boy, Guillaume Thomas de Fontenoy, joins them and is mistaken as the nephew of the popular General de Fontenoy. The Princess is enraptured by Thomas and her daughter, Henriette, falls in love with him. However Thomas feels impelled to see more of the action of the war. Written by Will Gilbert

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Drama

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Release Date:

5 May 1965 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Thomas the Impostor  »

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Trivia

French visa # 29896 delivered on 4-5-1965. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Franju and Cocteau collaborate to show war's absurdities
16 February 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Thomas l'imposteur" is a remarkable film, dismissed too easily by some of its critics because the story is episodic, loose and lacks conventional intensity arising from plot twists. This is true, but more than compensated for by its staging, its poetic realism, some of its acting, certain amazing sequences and its many ironies. In addition, the anti-war character of the film pervades it as it shows one of war's absurdities after another, including behavior of the clergy.

The main character for much of the film is a wealthy Princesse de Bormes, played to perfection by Emmanuele Riva (spelled with one "l" in the credits). She is vivacious, quick-witted, and creative. She gets together a convoy to aid the wounded at the World War 1 front.

Thomas (Fabrice Rouleau) is a very young man and soldier who goes where he wills while posing as a general's nephew. Joining up with Riva and courting her daughter (Sophie Dares), he opens doors for her charitable work.

In the convoy is a boisterous woman, Mme. Valiche, played by Rosy Varte, who entertains us in song during a makeshift show. Jean Servais has a small part as a suitor of Riva.

The poetic in poetic realism results in greater realism, because it gets to the spirit of what we are seeing and brings out a deeper feeling for the nature of what we are seeing.

The first sequence showing war's devastation runs from the 33 minute mark for 7 remarkable minutes. A city is under bombardment. There are hundreds of wounded in a makeshift hospital. Fire, smoke, bombs exploding, devastated buildings are shown with a degree of reality that makes one wonder how these shots were achieved in 1965 that seem indeed to be showing us 1914-1918.

The final 13 minutes or so are largely taken up with the front and the no man's land at the front at night. It is not as elaborate as "Paths of Glory", but it is still gripping as Thomas traverses a muddy irregular landscape pitted with huge holes.

The main goal of the film seems to have been to shine a light on how war warps values and behavior, producing people who are behaving rationally in the context of war but absurdly by any other standard.


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