In WW2 France, Rene Artois runs a small café where Resistance fighters, Gestapo men, German Army officers and escaped Allied POWs interact daily, ignorant of one another's true identity or presence, exasperating Rene.
Undeservedly gushing film aimed at fans of the series only
It has been many years since the war finished and, without the Germans running up large bar bills, René's café has suffered from greatly reduced takings and, as a result, he has decided to write his memoirs. With this air of memory and recollection, we also look back on the making of the series and the characters involved.
Has it really been so long since this series? Well, yes, it seems it has and sadly this film does nothing to really close the gap because it does rather reveal how basic the show was. The farcical and politically incorrect nature of the comedy hasn't dated well and while I was one of the seventeen million (!) people that watched this series, it probably helped that I was only about ten years old at the time. Looking back on it is a bit of a problem because it is hardly the sort of influential and clever comedy that really deserves a 90 minute retrospective on primetime BBC2. The material is mostly driven by the catchphrases (which seem terribly worn now of course) and the basic sexual innuendo which occasionally is funny but it is not that funny to watch it now.
Perhaps that is the problem it was of its time and we all remember it as better than it actually is. So having those involved picking through it as if it were one of the finest things to come out of the BBC does rather expose the weaknesses. The "new" scenes being shot in front of the live audience are worse for this as they rely more on familiarity than wit and wheel out the old jokes to an appreciative studio audience. Indeed it is the studio audience that tell us a lot about this film because they are mostly dressed as Nazi's, resistance fighters and so on they are fans and are cheering and laughing before the obvious lines have even been delivered. To this end, the target audience will also be fans and I suppose for them it will be a tremendous walk down memory lane as well as the chance to see new footage.
For the casual viewers though, it will be a bit like being the only person at a fancy dress party to have turned up in jeans and a tee-shirt as well as being the only one driving and unable to drink. I did feel rather left out because everyone seemed to be gushing and laughing about things I didn't get. The documentary side wasn't helped by the way it didn't really dish any dirt. The absence of Gonshaw (Maria) is notable and the narrator saying she left but not explaining more than that just made it stick in my mind as a thing. As well as this there isn't really anything negative to be said about the making, which I suppose is possible but does rather make for a dull love in.
One for fans then, but if it had been a little less gushing and a little "dirtier" (in the behind the scenes recollections rather than the one liners) then it would have been better for the casual viewer. As it was, I found it a bit of a trip down memory lane that I could have done without.
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