The Elusive Corporal

1962 [FRENCH]

Comedy / Drama / War

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 86%
IMDb Rating 7 10 810

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
October 28, 2021 at 04:44 AM



Adolf Hitler as Self
Jean-Pierre Cassel as Le caporal / The Corporal
Claude Brasseur as 'Papa' / 'Pop'
970.81 MB
fre 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 45 min
P/S counting...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by writers_reign 7 / 10

Bitter Sweet Caporal

Towards the end of his working life - he shot only one more film and that initially for television - Renoir returned to the milieu of one of his greatest successes, La Grande Illusion, shot Le Caporal epingle in black and white and set it largely in prison camps though this time the war in question was the Second World War as opposed to the first and as he could hardly replicate the acting quality of Gabin, Stroheim, Carette, Dalio, etc perhaps wisely he opted to go with a definite second eleven headed by Jean-Pierre Cassel and featuring Claude Rich and Claude Brasseur. There's not a lot of sunshine or hope on offer; dismal seems to be the prevailing colour and each time Cassel takes one step forward he goes back two. Perhaps the best description is picaresque by virtue of the motley characters he encounters which transform him into a sort of captive Candide. Charles Spaak, who had written La Grande Illusion, worked uncredited on Caporal and maybe he should have worked harder for though it holds the attention it remains inferior to La Grande Illusion.

Reviewed by emekdeniz7 6 / 10

This is a decent piece late in Renoir's career in the same vein as prior works such as Grand Illusion

The closest Renoir ever came to a direct remake. Though to write it off so is to not only misunderstand the film, but his development between '37 and '62. Where the former encapsulates a bittersweet hope for fraternite among all men on the verge of a catastrophe, the latter swings wildly from burlesque humor to tragic resignation in a struggle for personal freedom in it's aftermath.

Reviewed by patrick.hunter 10 / 10

worthwhile on its own

In 1937, Jean Renoir directed GRANDE ILLUSION, the first great (maybe greatest) POW film and one of the most influential motion pictures ever made. Even though this movie shows the influence, one should keep in mind that most POW movies of the time do so as well, from STALAG 17 to BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. However, rather than focus how THE ELUSIVE CORPORAL resembles GRANDE ILLUSION, what's more interesting I think is how it differs.

GRANDE ILLUSION used the POW camp as a metaphor for society, with all three classes represented. This film does not. It has no wealthy aristocrats, like Erich Von Strohiem's character. Some might compare Rich's character Ballochet to Pierre Fresney's Captain Boldieu, but doing so neglects that Ballochet is not an aristocrat; he only acts like one. Before becoming a POW, he was a gas meter attendant. Staying in the prison camp allows him to escape reality, for it offers him a deluded and misguided sense of comfort. This is why he does not want to leave it (until his final moment of self completion, of course). In this respect, Ballochet is unlike any character in GRANDE ILLUSION.

Saying that the POW camp in THE ELUSIVE CORPORAL reminds one of a country club ignores that virtually every other prisoner-of-war movie did the same. Only Bryan Forbes's unique KING RAT, released three years after this one, was a film that showed a prisoner-of-war camp as Godawful. I also don't see how viewers could interpret life in this film's camp is all that enviable. While it's true that Ballochet obtains a sinecure that allows him easy work and extra rations, the movie clearly condemns him and also shows that he's an exception. Many times, we see most prisoners working, often performing menial, unheroic labor (ie, emptying the latrine's cesspool tank--a symbol of those, like Ballochet or Pater, who choose the stagnation of remaining in prison). Rarely do we see the prisoners idling the time away. Unlike most POW movies, we're reminded that they are not only prisoners, but enslaved labor.

If one wants comparisons, one might more profitably compare THE ELUSIVE CORPORAL to French prison movies made just a few years before it (ie, A MAN ESCAPED and LE TROU). Like those films, this movie's concerns are not so much for society but for individuals, and, like THE ELUSIVE CORPORAL, they use escape as a metaphor for attaining selfhood (unlike GRANDE ILLUSION, which shows that even after escaping the prison, the prisoners still remain imprisoned---by their illusions).

Maybe this movie is not a perfect film (though I'm not sure about that), but it's certainly worthwhile. It's beautifully lensed, often presenting a gray, misty look. It intersperses documentary footage to remind us of how chaotic the reality outside the camp was like. And yes, one can say it resembles GRANDE ILLUSION, but one could also just as easily say it resembles PAPILLION. The point is not that it doesn't, because, actually it does. But then again, it's also quite different.

That it was made with such a small budget proves that Renoir's genius was still potent even toward the end of his career. It's a dramatic, humorous, subtle, and under-appreciated work of cinema.

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