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Film / La Grande Vadrouille

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Two legends making a cult movie.

"Tea for Two and Two for Tea..."
The mythical Turkish bath scene
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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, reuniting French comedy superstars Bourvil and Louis de Funès after The Sucker.

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 the airmen try to reach the Free Zone with the help of Résistance fighters and sympathizers.

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The film went on to become the most successful movie at the French box office, with 17 million cinema admissions until it was topped by Titanic (almost 22 million) 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 million) in 2008.


La Grande Vadrouille provides examples of:

  • 6 Is 9: Characters find themselves in wrong beds and wake up with a Bedmate Reveal when a 9 turns into a 6 at the hostel.

  • 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.
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  • 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".
  • Bedmate Reveal: Happens when Stanislas wakes up next to Major Achbach and then Augustin next to Lt. Stuermer.
  • Buzzing the Deck: A German airplane pilot is continuously strafing the heroes in the third act.
  • 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 machine 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.
  • Emergency Cargo Dump: Two barrels of wine are dumped off a carriage as dead weight when the heroes escape from the Germans.
  • 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.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Stanislas slaps Augustin in the face when the latter loses his composure at one point out in the woods.
  • 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.
  • Hey, Wait!: At Stanislas' room at the theatre, Major Achbach acts like he found out about the hidden soldier but he pulls open the top-most drawer which reveals sausages from the black market while the compromising clothes were in the drawer below.
  • High-Class Glass: Sir Reginald uses the glass from his wristwatch as this in order to improve his disguise at the theatre.
  • Holding the Floor: Stanislas and Augustin spin a long tale when being interrogated by Major Achbach in order to buy time for the Brits to come up with an escape plan.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Stanislas Lefort. One of De Funès' trademarks
  • La Résistance: A network of French people benevolently help the protagonists escape the Germans, which was considered as "passive resistance" and highly punishable back then. A more straight-up group of resistants try to blow up the opera room once it will be full of German officers.
  • Mugged for Disguise: The heroes set a trap on an evening Paris street. MacIntosh, dressed as a woman, strolls next to an open manhole, passers-by look at "her" and fall into the hole, where they are beaten and undressed. Bonus points for the speed of undressing and sorting the clothes and footwear. Minor subversion in the next scene: next morning Lefort realizes that he took too small shoes and forces Bouvet to give him his.
  • Nice Guy: Augustin Bouvet. It was a trademark of Bourvil's characters.
  • Parachute in a Tree: Peter Cunhingam's parachute snags on a roof just meters above Bouvet's dangling cradle. There's a SS military review beneath them
  • Pressure Point: When characters of Louis de Funès and Bourvil are locked in a cell, they call a prison guard and shout "Heil Hitler!" raising arms in a Nazi salute. Turns out, the salute is a perfect position for neck chops from both sides, and a soldier answering "Sieg Heil!" isn't expecting it. Of course, they didn't care about the guard's survival.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Some of the Germans are pretty friendly to the heroes... until they find out that they are working for La Résistance.
  • Right Under Their Noses:
    • Augustin Bouvet acts as Juliette's husband to deceive the German squad that is looking for him and Peter Cunningham.
    • Similarly, Alan MacIntosh acts as Stanislas Lefort's harpist pupil to deceive Major Achbach.

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