In the 18th century, Louis de Bourguignon is working with the Malichot's gang, but their ways are too 'unethical' for him. He creates his own band, acting under the name of Cartouche, ... See full summary »
Victor takes life lightly. Jolly and offhand, he has been a very pleasant companion to Suzanne for two years now. But the young antique dealer is not satisfied with Victor's lightness any ... See full summary »
North Africa, December 1942. Valentin, a professional gardener ruined by the bombings of 1940, has fled to Tunis, where he traffics stolen goods, transporting them from Libya to Tunisia on an old boat.
Philippe de Broca
Exavia and Drew are two singles in the city who have all but given up on love. Each are equipped with an extensive repertoire of horrific anecdotes of dates gone awry. Engaged couple Jada ... See full summary »
Edouard Berlon (Jean-Pierre Cassel) is a happy-go-lucky rogue who takes nothing seriously and flits irresponisbly from one affair to another. When he meets Helene Larouch (Anouk Aimee), he ... See full summary »
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Philippe de Broca
Antoine, a professor of Greek, and Lise, a police inspector, honeymoon in Greece. There they meet a young couple, Charles, an archaeologist, and Agnes, a dishy flirt. Charles unearths the ... See full summary »
Philippe de Broca
During the latter part of World War I, Private Charles Plumpick is chosen to go into the French town of Marville and disconnect a bomb that the German Army has planted. However, Charles is chased by some Germans, and finds himself holed up at the local insane asylum, where the inmates are convinced that he is the "King of Hearts". Feeling obligated to help the inmates, Charles attempts to lead them out of town, but they are afraid to leave, and frolic about the streets in gay costumes.Written by
Rick Gregory <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Director Philippe de Broca played a soldier named "Adolf", who has a mustache like Hitler, in one of the first scenes. See more »
After the battle in the town, after all the British and German soldiers kill each other and the reinforcements arrive, one German Soldier is clearly moving, adjusting his helmet, and then "playing" dead. See more »
Perhaps I am biased because the female lead, Genevieve Bujold (Coquelicot / Poppy) reminds me of a young French girl whom I fell in love with, and then lost, 40 years ago - the very same year that I first saw the film (1966 or early 1967).
But personal memories apart, it is stunning to watch how French director Philippe de Broca managed to fuse hilarious fun and melancholy reflection in a mold that is an incredible mixture. There is fairy tale, commedia dell'arte, circus, slapstick, comedy, romance - and World War I carnage. Among the supporting roles, the cast features some of the foremost French actors of those times; and it is obvious that they enjoyed every bit of it, especially as they put in a number of biting quips along with marvelous cameos.
This is what happens: For one day Private Charles Plumpick (Alan Bates) becomes, rather against his will, the mock king of a group of lunatics. This motley crowd have escaped from their asylum and have temporarily taken possession of a deserted town in Northern France between the 1918 front lines. Eventually Plumpick owes it to his lunatic friends that he survives when his Scottish battalion and their German counterpart meet in battle. There seems to be no way out of the madness of war. But don't miss the penultimate scene! (Rumour has it that it was censored in the American version at the time...)
My favorite scene is when young, innocent Coquelicot takes the shortest way from the brothel (well - it's a French film, isn't it?) to the town hall to meet her loved one, the King of Hearts - using two telegraph wires as a tightrope.
Why the film was a flop in its own country, and why neither a DVD or at least a video tape is available in France, I simply do not understand. Is it because only the French speak French but the Scots speak English and the Germans speak German? (Note de Broca himself, very early in the film, in a 5 second cameo as Private Adolf Hitler!) No need to worry - there are subtitles to help you along. Actually the DVD recently on sale in the USA *is* the original French version! Subtitled, and uncensored, to be sure.
I cannot deny that the film does have its shortcomings. The story is somewhat inconsistent, there seem to be goofs galore, continuity is lousy. But then it seems that de Broca had to make do with a lousy budget, too. And what he has created is essentially a dream which opposes to the nightmare of war a vision of humanity. In such dreams inconsistency, goofs and lousy continuity do not really matter. So it is still 10 out of 10.
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