Louis De Funès, Terry-Thomas, Bourvil--if these names don't mean anything to you, your credentials as a cosmopolitan might be extremely suspect. Three of the biggest figures in the history of European filmed comedy signed on to Gérard Oury's La Grande Vadrouille (The Big Stroll) , and the resulting alchemy brought forth box-office gold: $17.2 million in ticket sales, a French national record which stood for 30 years until Titanic, the very symbol of the ugly American film industry if there ever was one, knocked it from its perch. Terry-Thomas sparkles as an English pilot lost in occupied France during the Second World War; Bourvil and Louis De Funès play Parisians who somewhat involuntarily aid the ubiquitous Resistance by smuggling a British major across German lines. De Funès, best known for his portrayal of the wacky French police officer in the highly popular series of Gendarme films, is a manic, elastic comic genius, a proto-Rowan Atkinson with a rubbery face and a knack for physical humor. Here, his portrayal of conductor Stanislas LeFort remains alert, witty and moving--even when he's spazzing out. The antic script, cowritten by the intelligent and able Danièle Thompson (Cousin, Cousine), plays more like Hogan's Heroes than any war movie really ought to--the stodgy, autocratic Germans are perpetually undermined by those scruffy, resourceful French scalawags--but humor is Vadrouille's, and Oury's, justification, and almost all of the jokes work. It would be another few years before French cinema could muster up the courage to treat the Vichy period, and France's wartime complicity, with anything like genuine honesty. Released in America as Don't Look Now ... We're Being Shot At. -- Miles Bethany
Director(s): Nicolas Roeg
Production: Paramount Pictures
Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 8 nominations.
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