La Grande Vadrouille (1966)

Film, Comedy
La Grande Vadrouille

Director : Gérard Oury

Gerard Oury is the uncontested king of French popular comedy and, with 17 million tickets sold its opening weekend (a record that was only broken by Titanic in 1998), ‘La Grande Vadrouille’ is without doubt his greatest and most enduring work. Chock full of now classic scenes (Bourvil and Louis de Funès whistling in a Turkish bathhouse or disguised as Nazis, moseying about the French countryside), the film is now such a fixture in France’s cultural imagination that it’s hard to remember the audacity of the original project: to make a comedy set during (and in) World War II, in 1966, when the war itself was still something of an open wound in the national consciousness. Most astonishingly, Oury’s expansive, multi-genre comedy (by turns witty, situational, absurdist and burlesque) refuses to take the more obvious, patriotic line, lampooning Nazis and the French resistance alike. 

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