Elusive Corporal, The (1962)

Elusive Corporal, The (1962)

“I’m going home.”

During World War II, a French corporal (Jean-Pierre Cassel) repeatedly attempts to escape from German prison camps, taking various compatriots with him each time.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Escape
  • French Films
  • Jean Renoir Films
  • Prisoners of War
  • World War II

Jean Renoir’s second-to-last feature film was this wartime flick — based on a memoir by Jacques Perret — with thematic similarities to his earlier classic, Grand Illusion (1937) given that both films center on French men’s attempts to escape German POW camps. According to Wikipedia, “Renoir’s friend and assistant director Guy Lefranc had also been a World War II prisoner of war and had developed the project for seven years;” apparently 10 percent of all Frenchmen during World War II were captured as POWs by the Germans, meaning this story had the potential to represent an underexplored facet of France’s wartime experiences.

Curiously, however, Renoir adds comedy into the mix — and while there’s nothing wrong with approaching serious topics like war through comedy, one wonders exactly what it achieves here, other than opportunities for slapstick:

… or perhaps highlighting the absurdity of the entire situation.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
No; this one is only must-see for Renoir completists.


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