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King of Hearts (1966)

Le roi de coeur (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Comedy, War | 19 June 1967 (USA)
During World War I, a British private, sent ahead to a French town to scout for enemy presence, is mistaken for a King by the colorful patients of an insane asylum.

Director:

Philippe de Broca

Writers:

Daniel Boulanger (scenario and dialogue), Maurice Bessy (idea)
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Marc Dudicourt Marc Dudicourt ... Lieutenant Hamburger
Daniel Boulanger Daniel Boulanger ... Le Colonel Von Krack
Paul Faivre Paul Faivre ... Le Coiffeur
Jacques Mauclair Jacques Mauclair ... Le Maire
Pier Paolo Capponi ... Un Officier Anglais (as Paolo Capponi)
Jacques Balutin Jacques Balutin ... Le Sergent Mac Fish
Adolfo Celi ... Le Colonel Mac Bibenbrook (as Adolfo Celli)
Alan Bates ... Le Soldat Charles Plumpick
Pierre Brasseur ... Le Général Géranium
Michel Serrault ... Monsieur Marcel
Jean-Claude Brialy ... Le Duc de Trèfle
Julien Guiomar ... Monseigneur Marguerite
Micheline Presle ... Madame Eglantine
Françoise Christophe ... La Duchesse
Geneviève Bujold ... Coquelicot
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Storyline

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 <rag.apa@email.apa.org>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

De Broca's Crowning Triumph!

Genres:

Drama | Comedy | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cited by lyrics author and poet Horacio Ferrer as a direct influence in his masterpiece "Balada para un loco", co-written with the great musician Astor Piazzolla. See more »

Goofs

When soldiers put Plumpick on the piano, both legs are on, but when he is taken off, one leg is hanging off. See more »

Quotes

Monsieur Marcel: Talk loud and no one listens.
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Crazy Credits

The credits rise and then fall to coincide with the sound of a large clock. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

La Marche Du Sacre
Written and Performed by Georges Delerue Et Son Orchestre
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User Reviews

Cult film which needs to be seen more
24 September 2001 | by FilmFlaneurSee all my reviews

De Broca's delightful and surreal anti-war fantasy quickly attained a cult status when it was first released, but in recent years it has dropped more and more out of sight. A shame, because it is a charming film, the whimsical, romantic nature of which is entirely French. Even though the underlying message, that of preferring one kind of insanity to another is a simple, absurdist one, the viewer is still carried along by the Gaullic charm of it all.

As the much-put-upon martial ornithologist, It's not just because Bates is the only English member of the cast that one is aware of some awkwardness in his casting. For English cinema goers in particular, familiar with his career, his usual jocular masculinity is hard to reconcile with an child-like character, swept along by events. Those who remember Bates and Oliver Reed wrestling nude in 'Women in Love' (1962) from the same period, or his cocky Vic in 'A Kind of Loving' (1962), may bulk at Bates portraying such a confused innocent. Having said that, Bates' actual performance is balanced and restrained, all of a piece with the rest of the cast.

'King of Hearts' is primarily an ensemble piece. Many of the film's most delightful moments spring from the fancy-filled and flirtatious lunatics who quickly fill the streets, shops and occupations left by the fleeing villagers, their interaction with each other, and Plumpick. This world of fantasy is curtailed by the village walls, which physically as well as mentally encircle their environment. Outside is reality (no matter how ludicrously it is presented), conflict, death. Inside the walls is harmony of sorts, life celebrated. This distinction between outside and inside is made clear in the film. As soon as Plumpick attempts to ride a horse back into the real world for help, the music and the mass accompaniment of him by the inmates has to end until he is obliged to return.

As the 'King of Hearts' Plumpick is at the center of his motley 'people', as well as of Coquelicot's (Geneviève Bujold) affections. Once he awards himself his name, in a panic and on the run, his 'subjects' call out for him. He is promptly 'crowned' (both by banging his head, inducing his initial confusion, and though acquiring his 'kingship'). He is awarded a bride, and accepted as an unique traveller into the society of the amiably mad. Their acceptance of him anticipates the final scene of the film, when a chastened Plumpick re-admits himself into their company, having rejected the larger insanity of warfare.

It's fitting in a way that the least successful parts of the film lay outside of the village, where comic stereotypes replace whimsy and the comedy is drawn with much broader strokes. In particular Colonel MacBibenbrook (Adolfo Celi, better known as Emil Largo in 'Thunderball') is uncomfortably close to parody, and his part would have been much better cast with an actor like Trevor Howard who could excel with a line in ironic bombast. The Germans fare no better and, although amusing and lightweight in their capers, one misses the delicacy with which the lunatics are portrayed. One suspects that De Broca associates more with the geniality of the insane, as we all do given the options, and this sympathy is reflected on screen

Tellingly, the lunatics are not completely oblivious to the hostile world which surrounds them, although they are content to ignore the immediate threat of destruction and Plumpick's warnings. At the end of the film, once the opposing forces have symbolically destroyed themselves, Marcel says:'I'm tired of this game, let's go back to our rooms'. With deliberate sadness, they divest themselves of their play robes and return to their asylum, a divestment scene at the same time quiet, serious and eminently sane. It is clear that they are mad - but not crazy.


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Details

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

French | English | German

Release Date:

19 June 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

King of Hearts See more »

Filming Locations:

Senlis, Oise, France

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,443, 25 February 2018

Gross USA:

$17,646

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$18,130
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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