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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: [writing a letter] To Lucien Herr, College of Advanced Education, 45 rue d'Ulm, Fifth Arrondissement, Paris, in care of Administrator Tarato. St. Pierre de Samba, French Equatorial Africa. Fort Coulais, January 6, 1915. Dear teacher, and if I may, dear friend. Here is my punishment for not excelling in nobler fields of study. I should be teaching Greek in one of those pleasant schools of which our province is so proud but instead here I am under a summer sky wandering through virgin savannahs ...
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Featured in The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Once again Oscar proves capricious.
12 April 2012 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

The point here is that, in a clash of foreign colonial powers, the locals inevitably get the worst of it. This point is made early on and gets little further elaboration as the drama plays out. Giving the Oscar for best foreign film to a movie which was, let's be honest, a decent enough but obvious and not unusually clever satire on a serious topic (WWI), had to be some misguided exercise in political correctness before such nonsense had been given a name. Yes, it is fairly remarkable that a film with international appeal could be financed and shot in a place like the Ivory Coast. We get this. But an award for BEST foreign film, at a time when many national cinemas (Germany, France and Italy especially) were churning out a pretty impressive product, seems like tokenism. There. I said it. Go ahead and be offended.

The film itself is watchable enough but ordinary. The pacing is slow, the characters are not particularly sharply drawn, and the plotting - mostly a series of military misadventures and misunderstandings - is nothing really clever. It works well enough, but had me neither slapping my knees in merriment, nor nodding in acknowledgement of its cinematic skill. If Hollywood had cranked out something along the same lines we would have expected a higher level of creativity. It has unexpected moments of simple entertainment thanks to some old-fashioned knockabout comedy, but even this is executed with no display of unusual skill on the part of the film's makers. Everything manages to hold together well enough and move the story along - the cinematography of the African locations looks good - but there is just nothing here that is special enough to elevate the project above the realm of the merely good and giving it such a prestigious award as if it does seems dishonest. Watch it, but don't let the Oscar voters snow you. It's an okay movie, and an honest attempt at creating international cinema in an unexpected place. It's just not THAT GREAT.

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