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Film / Start the Revolution Without Me

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Start the Revolution Without Me is a 1970 comedy film starring Gene Wilder and Donald Sutherland as two sets of twins (one born from aristocrats, the other from peasants) who undergo a bizarre switch at birth after the doctor delivering them confuses the two sets; he switches one twin in each pair so each couple will get at least one of their own children. Years later, on the eve of The French Revolution, hilarity ensues as each pair plays a role in the upcoming events.

Orson Welles introduces and narrates the film, which was produced and directed by Bud Yorkin just before he and executive producer Norman Lear created TV's All in the Family.


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This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Agent Peacock: Pierre. He may be a dandy but he is a deadly one.
  • Artistic License – History: The film is somewhat of a parody of various historical fiction works about the French Revolution, and is not particularly concerned with historical accuracy.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Hilariously done in the ending, when certain characters from the story show up to kill narrator Orson Welles. They then kill each other.
  • Clothing Damage: Christina keeps tearing at Mimi's clothes trying to find the birthmark to prove they're sisters, eventually leaving her completely nude.
  • I'll Take Two Beers Too: When d'Escargot visits the de Sisis and lays out his plan for them to betray the King:
    Philippe: And what is the reward for this treachery?
    Escargot: Half of France.
    Philippe: Hmm. (beat) And for my brother?
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  • It's a Costume Party, I Swear!: Marie Antoinette humiliates King Louis by having him don a chicken costume for a palace ball.
  • Stripping Snag: Mimi's dress gets ripped off by Christina, leaving her running away from the battle completely naked.
  • Switched at Birth: One of the babies that grew up into Gene Wilder was switched with one of the babies that grew up into Donald Sutherland.

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