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Film / La Grande Vadrouille

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La Grande Vadrouille (The Great Stroll; US release title: Don't Look Now... We're Being Shot At!) is a 1966 French war comedy directed by Gérard Oury, starring Bourvil, Louis de Funès and Terry-Thomas. It went on to become the most successful movie at the French box office with 17 millions cinema admissions until it was topped by Titanic (almost 22 millions) in 1998, and remained the most successful French movie at the French box office until it was topped by Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (20 millions) in 2008.

Summer 1942. Over German-occupied France, a Royal Air Force B17 Flying Fortress becomes lost after a mission and is shot down over Paris by German Flak. The crew, Sir Reginald Brook (Terry-Thomas), Peter Cunningham and Alan MacIntosh, parachutes out over the city, where they run into and are hidden by a house painter, Augustin Bouvet (Bourvil), and the grumbling conductor of the Opéra National de Paris, Stanislas Lefort (Louis de Funès). Involuntarily, Lefort and Bouvet get themselves tangled up in the manhunt against the aviators led by Wehrmacht Major Achbach as they help the airmen to reach the Free Zone with the help of Résistance fighters and sympathizers.


La Grande Vadrouille provides examples of:

  • At the Opera Tonight: Augustin and Sir Reginald disguise themselves as German officers in order to infiltrate the opera during the night Faust is played and get the two hidden pilots out of it.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Alan MacIntosh is disguised as a woman at the opera. This comes in handy when the protagonists escape the opera in the sewers and end up in a Red Light District of Paris. They decide to set up a trap to get new clothes for disguise: MacIntosh goes out of the sewers first so men looking for prostitutes will come at him. Several of them fall into the trap, then are Bound and Gagged and stripped of their clothes.
  • Badass Mustache: Sir Reginald starts the movie with a quite big mustache (it was one of Terry-Thomas' trademarks). He shaves it off at the Turkish baths, because it looks "too English".
  • Chase Scene: Augustin, Stanislas and the pilots are helped by a nun, who tries to have them cross a German roadblock with her truck. When it doesn't work, they're chased by Germans on sidecars. They fend off the Germans one by one by throwing whatever they can find inside the truck at them, including pumpkins.
  • Comically Cross-Eyed: One of the German soldiers is extremely cross-eyed and yet is the one manning the anti-aircraft gun as the protagonists escape via gliders at the end of the film (the movie shows whats he sees by defocusing the camera until there are two images of the plane).
  • Disguised in Drag: Alan MacIntosh is hidden inside the opera this way.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Frequently used by the protagonists to walk around unnoticed by the German occupiers.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Sir Reginald realizes that the bomber is not flying over Calais at the sight of the Eiffel Tower.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Juliette. Who wouldn't want to marry such a nice, courageous and lovely woman?
  • French Cuisine Is Haughty: Sir Reginald loves French wine.
  • Gratuitous English: When Augustin and Stanislas try to speak English, they do it with a heavy French accent and mix English words with French words.
  • Gratuitous German: Like in English above, Augustin and Stanislas try to speak German... and they do it with a heavy French accent and mix German with French words.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Stanislas Lefort. One of De Funès' trademarks
  • Nice Guy: Augustin Bouvet. It was a trademark of Bourvil's characters.
  • Running Gag: The Neat Freak SS officer who gets covered with paint and later with plaster dust.
  • Short Cuts Make Long Delays: The British pilots expected to reach Calais (the French port facing Dover on the other side of the Channel) in the morning but their map and radio got destroyed during the night. They end up flying over Paris, with the German Flak waiting for them.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Perhaps the most famous use of the trope in French comedies.
  • Too Important to Walk: Lefort considers himself as this. Hence the page's picture. A walk of some meters is enough for him to get foot pain with his tight shoes.