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King of Hearts (1966)
"Le roi de coeur" (original title)

 -  Drama | Comedy | War  -  19 June 1967 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 2,653 users  
Reviews: 55 user | 18 critic

During the latter part of World War I, Private Charles Plumpick is chosen to go into the French town of Marville and disconnect a bomb that the German army has planted. However, Charles is ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Le Général Géranium
...
Le Duc de Trèfle
...
Coquelicot
...
Le Colonel Alexander MacBibenbrook
Françoise Christophe ...
La Duchesse
Julien Guiomar ...
Monseigneur Marguerite
...
Madame Eva alias Madame Eglantine
Michel Serrault ...
Monsieur Marcel
...
Le soldat Charles Plumpick alias le roi de coeur
Palau ...
Jacques Balutin ...
Mac Fish
...
Un officier anglais (as Paolo Capponi)
Madeleine Clervanne ...
Brunehaut
Marc Dudicourt ...
Le Lieutenant Hamburger
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Storyline

During the latter part of World War I, Private Charles Plumpick is chosen to go into the French town of Marville and disconnect a bomb that the German army has planted. However, Charles is chased by some Germans and finds himself holed up at the local insane asylum, where the inmates are convinced that he is the "King of Hearts." Feeling obligated to help the inmates, Charles attempts to lead them out of town, but they are afraid to leave and frolic about the streets in gay costumes. Will Charles be able to deactivate the bomb in time and save his newfound friends? Written by Rick Gregory <rag.apa@email.apa.org>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

De Broca's Crowning Touch!

Genres:

Drama | Comedy | War

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

19 June 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

King of Hearts  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cited by lyrics author and poet Horacio Ferrer as a direct influence in his masterpiece "Balada para un loco", co-written with the great musician Astor Piazzolla. See more »

Goofs

When the inmates return to the asylum at the end, they leave all manner of attire strewn around the entrance (umbrellas, wraps, etc.). Shortly afterward, as troops march by, those items are all gone. See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits rise and then fall to coincide with the sound of a large clock. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Subversive Anti-War Fairy Tale
10 November 2005 | by (Germany) – See all my reviews

Perhaps I am biased because the female lead, Genevieve Bujold (Coquelicot / Poppy) reminds me of a young French girl whom I fell in love with, and then lost, 40 years ago - the very same year that I first saw the film (1966 or early 1967).

But personal memories apart, it is stunning to watch how French director Philippe de Broca managed to fuse hilarious fun and melancholy reflection in a mold that is an incredible mixture. There is fairy tale, commedia dell'arte, circus, slapstick, comedy, romance - and World War I carnage. Among the supporting roles, the cast features some of the foremost French actors of those times; and it is obvious that they enjoyed every bit of it, especially as they put in a number of biting quips along with marvelous cameos.

This is what happens: For one day Private Charles Plumpick (Alan Bates) becomes, rather against his will, the mock king of a group of lunatics. This motley crowd have escaped from their asylum and have temporarily taken possession of a deserted town in Northern France between the 1918 front lines. Eventually Plumpick owes it to his lunatic friends that he survives when his Scottish battalion and their German counterpart meet in battle. There seems to be no way out of the madness of war. But don't miss the penultimate scene! (Rumour has it that it was censored in the American version at the time...)

My favorite scene is when young, innocent Coquelicot takes the shortest way from the brothel (well - it's a French film, isn't it?) to the town hall to meet her loved one, the King of Hearts - using two telegraph wires as a tightrope.

Why the film was a flop in its own country, and why neither a DVD or at least a video tape is available in France, I simply do not understand. Is it because only the French speak French but the Scots speak English and the Germans speak German? (Note de Broca himself, very early in the film, in a 5 second cameo as Private Adolf Hitler!) No need to worry - there are subtitles to help you along. Actually the DVD recently on sale in the USA *is* the original French version! Subtitled, and uncensored, to be sure.

I cannot deny that the film does have its shortcomings. The story is somewhat inconsistent, there seem to be goofs galore, continuity is lousy. But then it seems that de Broca had to make do with a lousy budget, too. And what he has created is essentially a dream which opposes to the nightmare of war a vision of humanity. In such dreams inconsistency, goofs and lousy continuity do not really matter. So it is still 10 out of 10.


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