Le Grand Détournement / La Classe américaine (1993)

Film, Action and adventure
Le Grand détournement / La Classe américaine

Time Out says

The 100 best French films

This film ranked #78 in Time Out's list of the 100 greatest French films. Click here to see the full list. 

Directors: Michel Hazanavicius et Dominique Mézerette

In 1993, in celebration of its hundred-year anniversary, Warner Bros. authorised Canal+, then at the height of its creativity, to use clips from WB’s back catalogue, waiving all rights fees while instructing the French studio to avoid Eastwood and Kubrick at all costs. Canal+ went ahead and made ‘Le Grand Détournement’, one of the weirdest, most hallucinatory films of all time. An absurd montage, combining hundreds of clips from a dozen American movies (including ‘Jeremiah Johnson’, ‘All the President’s Men’ and ‘Rio Bravo’) this surreal film is surprisingly entertaining, mostly because writer-directors Michel Hazanavicius and Dominique Mézerette really push the idea to extremes:  all dialogue has been absurdly rewritten and dubbed back into French.

The nonsensical plot follows three reporters (Newman, Hoffman and Redford), all investigating the death of George Abitbol (John Wayne), described as ‘the classiest man in the world’. Silly and meandering, the film is a loose parody of Citizen Kane and although for legal reasons it has never been sold on VHS or DVD, Le Grand Détournement has slowly gathered a following, achieving cult-comedy status in France. 

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