6.9/10
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Weekend at Dunkirk (1964)

Week-end à Zuydcoote (original title)
In June 1940, during the Dunkirk evacuation of Allied troops to England, French sergeant Julien Maillat and his men debate whether to evacuate to Britain or stay and fight the German troops that are closing-in from all directions.

Director:

Henri Verneuil

Writers:

Robert Merle (novel), François Boyer (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean-Paul Belmondo ... Julien Maillat
Catherine Spaak ... Jeanne
Georges Géret ... Pinot
Jean-Pierre Marielle ... Pierson
Pierre Mondy ... Dhéry
Marie Dubois ... Hélène
Christian Barbier Christian Barbier ... Paul
François Guérin François Guérin ... Le lieutenant pressé
Kenneth Haigh ... Atkins
Ronald Howard Ronald Howard ... Robinson
Jean-Paul Roussillon Jean-Paul Roussillon ... La gouape / Blackguard
Albert Rémy ... Virrel
Nigel Stock ... Un soldat brûlé
Pierre Vernier Pierre Vernier ... Un soldat
Alan Adair Alan Adair
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Storyline

Set during World War II, and stuck on the beaches near Dunkirk, Julien Maillat tries to join England by boat with the English Army, but cannot succeed. He, then, tries to organize the life for him and his soldiers friends between German raids and shells. Written by Jean-Yves Simon <simon@wotangate.micro.ti.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Not since "The Longest Day" Has a Motion Picture Recaptured such a Dramatic Moment of Courage and Glory in World War II! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

French | English | German

Release Date:

18 December 1964 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Weekend at Dunkirk See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

FRF 10,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scene where Maillat and Pinot confront two German paratroopers was filmed in the ruins of the Eglise de Notre-Dame in Calais. The war damaged building was still not rebuilt in 1964. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Sean Bradley Reviews: Dunkirk (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not exactly a beach party
6 April 2009 | by GrandeMargueriteSee all my reviews

It is really amazing that what was one of the biggest popular successes of the 60s in the French cinema has only one review on the IMDb! So here is my little contribution.

For those who have seen the recent "Atonement", the story will look familiar as the film is about one of the darkest episodes of WWII (i.e. the retreat of British and French troops at Dunkirk in June 1940), an episode evoked perhaps too briefly in the British film. In June 1940, British and French troops fighting against the Germans in Northern France were forced to retreat to the coastal town of Dunkirk and its suburbs. Their only hope of escape was to cross the Channel to England, but the boats were scarce and all the time they were attacked from the air by German fighter planes. This is literally the background for the whole movie. During two hours, we follow a young soldier named Julien Maillat through what was actually a terrible mess. Based on the first novel by Robert Merle, which was awarded the Goncourt Prize (the French equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize), "Week-end à Zuydcoote" is a realistic and grim portrayal of war. Merle himself was trapped on Dunkirk's beaches in 1940, and this brought a touch of authenticity to his work. Besides, when most war films depict glory and victory, this one is about defeat and loss. Therefore, the movie is not about battles between armies of nameless soldiers; it shows instead the boredom, frustration, fear and anger of ordinary human beings - all compressed into a turbulent two day period. That being said, don't expect one of those French "high brow" films! Henri Verneuil was an excellent filmmaker who knew how to make a real blockbuster (as this one proved to be). Although I never regarded him as an original nor even a prominent director, "Week-end à Zuydcoote" is perhaps his best effort. Well served by an excellent cast (leading man Jean-Paul Belmondo in one of his best parts, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Pierre Mondy as a gradually repulsive swindler...), the movie has benefited from Henri Decaë's exceptional cinematography and Maurice Jarre's fine score. Verneuil has managed to construct a believable reconstruction of the episode, which matches some of the best Hollywoodian movies on that period. The weak point (and this prevents me from giving this movie a 10/10) is the story that unfolds around the encounter of Maillat (Belmondo) and a young woman (Catherine Spaak) who resolutely refuses to leave her home in the suburbs of Dunkirk. This part of the movie seems artificial. While Verneuil is very good at depicting the protagonists' experiences, he proves to be clumsy with this segment. In spite of this minor flaw, "Week-end à Zuydcoote" is a thoroughly enjoyable show and a bitter reflection on war.


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