“All life is a spectacle — you’re on a stage.”
During the final days of World War I, a meek private named Charles Plumpick (Alan Bates) is sent to a French village to find and dismantle a bomb. Once there, he discovers that most of the citizens have fled, and that harmless insane asylum inmates are roaming the town. They crown Plumpick their “King of Hearts”, and he falls in love with the sweet inmate “Coquelicot” (Genevieve Bujold).
Response to Peary’s Review:
I agree with Peary that this “phenomenally popular” cult film of the “late sixties and early seventies” now comes across as “terribly dated” and thematically “trite”. As Peary notes, countless other films have shown us that “those people on the outside of jails and asylums are the ones who should be institutionalized, [and] that war is bad” — these aren’t particularly unique insights. King of Hearts is primarily worth watching today for its status as a 1960s anti-war film which appealed to those “seduced by all films that defended nonconformity and opposed war.”
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Genevieve Bujold as “Coquelicot”
No, though it’s worth a look for its status as an erstwhile cult favorite. Discussed at length in Peary’s Cult Movies (1981).