Comedy about a naive French country girl in London who helps the war effort by parachuting into German-occupied France to help kidnap an important German general. She bungles through to a heroic finish of plot and counter-plot.
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During WW2, as the German forces rapidly advance toward the French coast, naive French country girl Babette makes her way to the coastal town of Dieppe. She is looking for work as a house maid at Madame Fernande's cat-house. Unfortunately, Madame Fernande and her girls are about to be evacuated to England by a French boat. Having no other choice, Babette decides to follow Madame Fernande to England. In London, Babette makes her way to the headquarters of the Free French Forces to make herself useful. She is hired as a maid, kitchen helper, housekeeper and eventually switchboard operator. Babette isn't too bright but she catches the eye of young and handsome French lieutenant Gérard De Crécy-Lozère. His aristocratic parents live in France but he is in London fighting under General De Gaulle, assigned to wartime intelligence. Babette also catches the eye of British Intelligence colonel Fitzpatrick who is astonished at the similarity between Babette and Hilda. Hilda is German General ...Written by
The fifties were not such a bad era in Christian-Jaque's career: the critics do not claim for those works ;yet they included two truly superb films "Fanfan La Tulipe" and "Si Tous Les Gars Du Monde" ;and the others are certainly inoffensive ,with a special mention for "Souvenirs Perdus" .
Coming after two rather undistinguished works ("Nathalie" and "La Loi C'est La Loi" the latter could have been better ,had it been directed by an Italian director) "Babette " is an entertaining flick ;it's only a modest little comedy but some of his aspects predate several movies of the sixties..
First of all the writer is Gerard Oury and the movie looks like a blueprint for his own "La Grande Vadrouille" (compare the endings).Inspired by Billy Wilder's "stalag 17" "Papa Schulz" epitomizes the dumb German with a lot of overplaying by Francis Blanche.
Brigitte Bardot plays for the first time the bubble head girl -but not so stupid in the end- and I cannot think of another actress portraying this kind of character with so much naturalness ;she would continue in that vein in Malle's "Viva Maria" ,a success,and sadly,in two dismal efforts :Guy Casaril's "Les Novices" and Christian-Jaque's own doomed "Les Pétroleuses" .
"Babette" was a movie which showed the bright side of the occupied country although the duke considers the General De Gaulle a deserter and an enemy.Christian-Jaque painted a nastier portrait of the country in his last good film " Le Repas Des Fauves" which to this day has remained ignored or despised.Babette is French-are -all-resistant-fighters run of the mill and it's BB herself who carries the movie on her shoulders:all she has to do is act naturally and she pulls it off with gusto.From the naive girl who comes to work in a place recommended by a shameless cousin(the place is a brothel but the girl hasn't got a clue) to the brunette Hilde who can't ride a horse without screaming-in her memoirs BB would write that ,although she loved animals ,she was a poor rider ,notably in "Les Petroleuses".
Jacques Charrier was BB's then-husband and is featured as a handsome French officer,with whom,on a train,a gay German soldier falls in love ,having seen his photograph;In this scene,Michel Audiard comes up with many fine lines ;there are fine moments too ,when Babette talks with the whores on the boat en route to England .
It cannot be looked upon as a major achievement for the highly talented Christian-Jaque ,but it's really a lot a fun to watch it!
NB:Gilbert Becaud wrote the score.The (not featured in the movie) "Marche De Babette"aka "Quand On Est Militaire" song was a big hit in France circa 1960
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