The Grand Maneuver (1955)

  |  Comedy, Drama, Romance


The Grand Maneuver (1955) Poster

A French lieutenant makes a bet that he can seduce any woman in town in the two weeks before his regiment leaves for maneuvers, but his chosen target (a Parisian divorcée) isn't like other girls he's known.


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Director:

René Clair

Writers:

René Clair (screenplay and dialogue), Jérôme Géronimi (adaptation), Jean Marsan (adaptation)

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25 November 2007 | JBrandeisS
10
| Heartwrenching Romance with Comic Asides
A French army regiment, resplendent in colorful uniform, is quartered in a French provincial town for summer exercises. As this detachment first enters the town marching in order down its main thoroughfare, a beautiful woman (Michele Morgan) appears on the balcony of her fashion shop and catches the eye of the regiment's dashing and handsome Lothario who has already compiled a notorious string of conquests (Gerard Philipe). This gives rise to a bet by his fellow soldiers with him, when the soldiers reach their barracks, that this time he will not be able to seduce this woman. He launches a spirited campaign for her, designed to sweep her off her feet, but becomes so ensnared in her charms that he completely loses his mind and falls genuinely and madly in love with her, forgetting totally about the bet and wanting only her. The high point of his fortunes is reached when, practically on bended knee, he protests to her that he does not love her for only a few days or a few weeks but for his whole life. She is on the point of yielding to his entreaties when she learns of the bet. The denouement is exquisite torture as she is unable to credit his protestations any longer notwithstanding that she passionately desires to, he is in effect impaled to his hurt on the thorns of his past, she ends by returning to the fat husband with greasy ringlets of curls from whom she'd been divorced and who appears totally unworthy of her, and the regiment marches out of town at the end of summer. There are comic interludes of great charm and even some hilarity, as well as all the brilliance and wit that make a French movie a French movie, but all in all this is a sentimentalist's dream of a production in which the adorable loveliness of Michele Morgan is at its dazzling height.

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