La Grande Vadrouille (1966)

G   |    |  Adventure, Comedy, War


La Grande Vadrouille (1966) Poster

Several ordinary Frenchmen, helping British pilots avoid Nazi captivity, goes on an epic voyage through the occupied country to the Swiss border.

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8/10
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  • Michel Modo and Benno Sterzenbach in La Grande Vadrouille (1966)
  • Michel Modo and Benno Sterzenbach in La Grande Vadrouille (1966)
  • Benno Sterzenbach in La Grande Vadrouille (1966)
  • La Grande Vadrouille (1966)
  • Bourvil and Marie Dubois in La Grande Vadrouille (1966)
  • Mike Marshall and Terry-Thomas in La Grande Vadrouille (1966)

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Awards

2 wins.

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29 December 2002 | pete36
10
| One of the most popular French movies of all time
Starring the famous Bourvil/Louis de Funes tandem it is a highly entertaining caper set in WWII German-occupied France, where these 2 unlikely heroes reluctantly must help some downed British airmen to escape.

A perennial favourite on French TV during the Christmas or Easter holidays it is one of those rare movies you can watch over and over again without getting tired of it. It runs more than two hours but moves along at an incredible pace. Movie relies bigtime on the clash of character between de Funes as the self-important musical director of the Opéra de Paris and Bourvil as the simple housepainter. But also the hilarious script, some spectacular setpieces (including a spielbergesque chase by German sidecars) and a surprising finale all add up to making `Vadrouille' one of the best and most entertaining French movies ever.

Made on a lavish budget by Gerard Oury who would go on to make some other highly succesfull comedies, mostly starring big French stars as de Funes and Bourvil, but also Jean-Paul Belmondo, Pierre Richard and Christian Clavier. Incidentally his next venture was to be the equally succesfull `The Brain', starring none other than David Niven (!) and Eli Wallach, backed up by Bourvil and Belmondo. Bourvil and de Funes should be reunited again by Oury in `La folie des Grandeurs' but then sadly Bourvil passed away. He was replaced by none other than Yves Montand.

Up to that time movies made in France took war rather seriously, but `La grande vadrouille' sparked of an endless string of farces set in WWII which almost invariably depicted the French as very clever and cunning, always outwitting the Germans in the end. Even the recent (2002) `Laissez-Passer' from much-acclaimed director Bertrand Tavernier is based on this premiss.

If you like this definitely try to see `Le Corniaud', the first de Funes/Bourvil caper by Oury or why not `Mais ou est donc passé la 7ieme compagnie ?' as a prime example of the smart French vs not-so-smart German theme.

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