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Black and White in Color (1976)

La victoire en chantant (original title)
PG | | Comedy, Drama, War | 8 May 1977 (USA)
French colonists in Africa, several months behind in the news, find themselves at war with their German neighbors. Deciding that they must do their proper duty and fight the Germans, they ... See full summary »

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sergeant Bosselet
Jacques Dufilho ...
Paul Rechampot
Catherine Rouvel ...
Jacques Spiesser ...
Hubert Fresnoy
Maurice Barrier ...
Benjamin Memel Atchory ...
Peter Berling ...
Père Jean de la Croix
Marius Beugre Boignan ...
Claude Legros ...
Jacques Rechampot
Dora Doll ...
Baye Macoumba Diop ...
Jacques Monnet ...
Père Simon
Dieter Schidor ...
Aboubakar Toine ...
Marc Zuber ...
Major Anglais


French colonists in Africa, several months behind in the news, find themselves at war with their German neighbors. Deciding that they must do their proper duty and fight the Germans, they promptly conscript the local native population. Issuing them boots and rifles, the French attempt to make "proper" soldiers out of the Africans. A young, idealistic French geographer seems to be the only rational person in the town, and he takes over control of the "war" after several bungles on the part of the others. Written by Carl Seiler <lcs9549@tamsun.tamu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | War


PG | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

8 May 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black and White in Color  »

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Did You Know?


The original French title of this movie was "La Victoire en Chantant" (Victory, as she sings), the first line of the famous patriotic song "Le chant du Départ" (The Farewell Hymn), written in 1794 during the French Revolution and nicknamed "the Marseillaise's twin". The untranslatable title became "Black and White in Colour" which was later re-translated literally. See more »


Hubert Fresnoy: We shouldn't expect miracles, and that's not what I expect of you.
See more »


Featured in The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

BLACK AND WHITE IN COLOR (Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1976) ***
6 February 2014 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This Ivory Coast Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner - the country's only ever Oscar contender - that is, however, mostly spoken in French, with the rest being translated into English via burnt-in sub titles(!), had been shown on local TV in the late 1980s as part of a cycle dedicated to such recipients, but I had missed out on it back then. It surprisingly triumphed over the more touted official French and Italian entries, namely COUSIN COUSINE (an upcoming viewing) and SEVEN BEAUTIES (both 1975) - the later of which was even nominated for Best Direction! The film looks great and is well-served by an ironically bouncy score courtesy of Pierre Bachelet (best-known for his electronic accompaniment to several softcore titles of the era!). Still, while the director won his only Oscar here, his debut effort, he would become more renowned for subsequent efforts such as QUEST FOR FIRE (1981), THE NAME OF THE ROSE (1986) and THE BEAR (1988).

The premise is a very original one - albeit still reminiscent of KING OF HEARTS and THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! (both 1966) - involving the reaction of a French military contingent stationed in the West African country at the outbreak of WWI (even if they only learn of the conflict six months after it began and have no idea whether the hostilities were still raging by then!). Still, their code of ethics renders them duty-bound to join in the fight and, under the reluctant leadership of Jean Carmet, lead an assault on the German ranks posted there…but, having been so long out of action, they suffer a mighty trashing!

Following this, a young, soft-spoken geographer (who had opposed the impetuous initial offensive) takes matters in hand – his organized yet stern handling of the situation (such as negotiating with the local tribes to provide experienced warriors in a subsequent onslaught) garners him the respect of his elders (including shifty store owner Jacques Dufilho and his idiot brother – who likes to take it out on the natives! – and a couple of priests) and the admiration of the two women at the settlement (especially Catherine Rouvel, still retaining the sultry looks of her star-making role in Jean Renoir's LUNCH ON THE GRASS seventeen years earlier!). Eventually, he ends up having Kurtz-like delusions of grandeur and lapses in loyalty by taking on an attractive African woman as his lover. Ultimately, they lose the battle on account of the unpredictable elements: the victorious British army turns up to take over control and the wannabe strategist learns he has a lot in common with the similarly learned German commanding officer!

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