That was what the French used to call le "comique troupier" ;in the twenties,Jean Renoir himself had broached the "genre" with his "TIre Au flanc" .Christian-Jaque had already directed Fernandel in " Un De La Légion" but that previous work was part coarse comedy part heroic adventures .
These coarse comedies dealing with the squaddies doing their military service almost disappeared after the thirties ,then emerged again in the seventies with the appalling flicks of the Charlots .With the suppression of the military service by Jacques Chirac in 2001,it's unlikely to see them again in the years to come.
"Les Dégourdis de la Onzième" is so stupid,so ridiculous and so over-the-top it becomes funny.The colonel's sister,Hortensia (Pauline Carton) wrote a tragedy about an unfortunate vestal virgin Nero covets.And she needs actors !The soldiers will do nicely,and anyway there's Fernandel among them. When they are playing the piece de resistance of the Roman drama,that is to say the orgy (you should see Carton who's got soot (or paint)smeared all over her face and Fernandel wearing the toga virilis) ,up comes the general ... who of course thinks the drunken revel is for real!And there's also a captain lecturing on silkworm!
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