It’s fair to say that the Colonial European powers have a long and bloody history of not getting along. Since World War II, this has mainly manifested itself in political bickering. However, there no shortage of gentle ribbing, to all out abuse, in European film and TV fare. From ‘Allo, ‘Allo! to Luc Besson’s Taxi! Films, no country’s shy of getting a dig in. Gérard Oury’s La Grande Vadrouille is a riotous comedy about war which was a box office smash on release in France.
When their bomber gets shot down over France, Sir Reginald (Terry Thomas), MacIntosh (Mike Marshall) and Cunningham (Claudio Brook) all manage to parachute out. With the Germans hot in pursuit they enlist the help of a bumbling house painter (André Bourvil), a grump conductor (Louis de Funès) and a puppet-show operator (Marie Dubois) to help them escape.
La Grande Vadrouille remains one of the most successful films in terms of box office takings in France. It’s a classic family movie in the same vein as Dad’s Army or the Ealing comedies. There’s much bonhomie all round and the all-star (Bourvil & de Funès we huge stars at the time) cast seem to be really enjoying themselves. La Grande Vadrouille, in this fantastic new 4K restoration to celebrate its 50th anniversary, is a classic WW2 farce which remains great entertainment.
La Grande Vadrouille is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Studiocanal on Monday.