6.2/10
60
3 user 2 critic

The French, They Are a Funny Race (1955)

Les carnets du Major Thompson (original title)
Major Thompson, an Englishman living in France, comments in his memoirs on the peculiarities of his French wife and friends.

Director:

Preston Sturges

Writers:

Pierre Daninos (book), Preston Sturges
Reviews

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Temperamental saloon singer Freddie Jones, jealously shoots at her cheating boyfriend Blackie but mistakenly hits Judge Alfalfa J. O'Toole's honorable behind, forcing her to skip town under the guise of a schoolteacher.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Betty Grable, Cesar Romero, Rudy Vallee
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Dan McGinty has great success in his chosen field of crooked politics, but he endangers it all in one crazy moment of honesty.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Brian Donlevy, Muriel Angelus, Akim Tamiroff
Certificate: Passed Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The biography of Dr. W. T. Morgan, a 19th century Boston dentist, during his quest to have anesthesia, in the form of ether, accepted by the public and the medical and dental establishment.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Joel McCrea, Betty Field, Harry Carey
Certificate: Passed Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Woodrow is discharged from the military for hay fever, but fabricates receiving a heroic honorable discharge before returning home.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Eddie Bracken, Ella Raines, Raymond Walburn
Vendetta (1950)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The daughter of a slain man pushes her brother toward vengeance in 19th-century Corsica.

Directors: Mel Ferrer, Stuart Heisler, and 3 more credits »
Stars: Faith Domergue, George Dolenz, Donald Buka
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Twenty years after his triumphs as a freshman on the football field, Harold is a mild-mannered clerk who dreams about marrying the girl at the desk down the aisle. But losing his job ... See full summary »

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Harold Lloyd, Frances Ramsden, Jimmy Conlin
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

When the co-workers of an ambitious clerk trick him into thinking he has won $25,000 in a slogan contest, he begins to use the money to fulfill his dreams. What will happen when the ruse is discovered?

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Dick Powell, Ellen Drew, Raymond Walburn
Comedy | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Sir Alfred De Carter suspects his wife of infidelity. While conducting a symphony orchestra, he imagines three different ways of dealing with the situation. When the concert ends, he tries ... See full summary »

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Rex Harrison, Linda Darnell, Rudy Vallee
Comedy | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

After an all-night send-off party for the troops, a small-town girl wakes up to find herself married and pregnant, but with no memory of her husband's identity.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Eddie Bracken, Betty Hutton, Diana Lynn
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An inventor needs cash to develop his big idea. His wife, who loves him, decides to raise it for him by divorcing him and marrying a millionaire.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor
The Lady Eve (1941)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A trio of classy card sharks targets the socially awkward heir to brewery millions for his money, until one of them falls in love with him.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about life, which gives him a rude awakening.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jack Buchanan ... Le Major Marmaduke Thompson
Martine Carol ... Martine Thompson
Noël-Noël ... Monsieur Taupin
Totti Truman Taylor ... Miss Fyfyth
Katie Boyle ... Bit part (as Catherine Boyle)
André Luguet ... L'éditeur Fusillard
Geneviève Brunet Geneviève Brunet ... Ursula Thompson - la première femme du Major
Paulette Dubost ... Madame Taupin
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Robert Balpo Robert Balpo
Madeleine Barbulée Madeleine Barbulée ... La femme de chambre
Charles Bayard Charles Bayard
Marguerite Bour Marguerite Bour
François de Breteuil François de Breteuil ... Marc
Henri Coutet Henri Coutet
Lucien Frégis Lucien Frégis
Edit

Storyline

Major Thompson, an Englishman living in France, comments in his memoirs on the peculiarities of his French wife and friends.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It Hilariously Crosses the Line...From the land of mutton chop and warm beer...to the land of iced champagne and "Aah, my dear!" See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

France

Language:

French | English

Release Date:

9 December 1955 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The French, They Are a Funny Race See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Original literary source: "Les carnets du Major Thompson. Découverte de la France et des Français", novel by Pierre Daninos, illustrated by Walter Goetz, published by Hachette, Paris, 1954, 244 pages. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Disappointment for Sturges fans

"Les Carnets du Major Thompson" was based on a novel by Pierre Daninos which was a best-seller in France in the early 1950s. The title literally translates as "Major Thompson's Medals", but a more appropriate translation would be "Major Thompson's Trophies", with "trophies" representing a sexual double-entendre. The novel depicts the adventures of a rather befuddled Englishman living in France, trying to adapt to French ways and falling in love with a Frenchwoman. The Englishman (Major Thompson) is the butt of all the humour, which is why this novel was so popular in France: although set in France, it makes fun of Englishmen!

The film version of "Major Thompson" was directed by Preston Sturges, after he'd rendered himself unemployable in Hollywood and was living in exile. Sturges spoke French fluently, having lived in Paris during his childhood. (Believe it or not, Preston Sturges's mother was the artist who created and gave to Isidora Duncan the long hand-painted scarf which caused Duncan's legendary death by strangulation!) But Sturges's francophilia is the only plus-factor in this terrible movie. His talent was long gone by this time, and so was his energy. The plot of "Major Thompson" is extremely episodic (like its source novel), and the film lurches from one weak scene to another. The fade-out gag is painfully unfunny, like the rest of the film.

Major Thompson is played by Jack Buchanan, a Scotsman who fitted the American conception of "English"-ness much more neatly than most genuine Englishmen did. Buchanan gave excellent performances in several previous films, but he was dying of cancer when he went to France to film "Major Thompson", and it shows. He's a dead man walking.

The only scene in this film which is even vaguely funny occurs when Thompson and his French equestrienne paramour go riding. Their horses won't stay put in front of the cameras, and keep wandering off with their riders brought unwillingly along. Buchanan looks genuinely perplexed as his horse keeps carrying him away from the camera. This scene works so well (in contrast to the rest of the movie) that I don't believe it was planned: I think that the horses were genuinely ill-trained, and Sturges had the good sense to let the horses "ad lib" and steal the scene.

Noél-Noél, a French comedian with a rather comic face (whom I've never found funny otherwise) does a brief cameo, drinking Byrrh in a sidewalk cafe. He doesn't do anything funny here, apart from looking straight into the camera ... which in his case is good for one quick laugh.

I'll rate "Les Carnets du Major Thompson" zero points. I wanted so much to like this movie, because I'm a fan of Preston Sturges and a fan of Jack Buchanan: this was their only collaboration, and the last film for both. But it's sad and unfunny, and I can't recommend it on any level


27 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 3 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed