The Elusive Corporal (1962) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Elusive Corporal (1962)

The Elusive Corporal




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

The eponymous French corporal, played by Jean-Pierre Cassel, is ensconced in a German POW camp. Cassel plots with his friends Claude Brasseur and Claude Rich to escape, but all three are recaptured. When the corporal plans another getaway, he finds that one of his chums isn't interested anymore. After a brief liaison with the daughter of a German dentist, Cassel once more tries to break out...and once more...and once more. Finally free from his captors, Cassel joins the resistance with his loyal pal Brasseur. The Elusive Corporal was a return to the themes of freedom and personal dignity inherent in Jean Renoir's earlier La Grande Illusion (1938); alas, Renoir had very little control over the final cut of the later film, and tended to dismiss the whole project as a mere "entertainment" in his declining years, though he remained proud of his closing panorama shot of Paris, which wordlessly expressed the euphoria of freedom. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Guy Lefranc, Jacques Perret
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 11, 1991


Jean-Pierre Cassel
as The Corporal
O.E. Hasse
as Drunk on the Train
Claude Rich
as Ballochet
Jacques Jouanneau
as Penche-a-Gauche
Jean Carmet
as Guillaume
Guy Bedos
as Stutterer
Sacha Briquet
as The escaping "Woman"
Philippe Castelli
as Electrician
Francois Darbon
as The last man
Gérard Darrieu
as Cross-Eyed Man
Lucien Raimbourg
as The station guard
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Elusive Corporal

Critic Reviews for The Elusive Corporal

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (3)

This late addition to Renoir's impressively wide-ranging oeuvre is nevertheless suffused with the same warm and generous humanism as the great Règle du Jeu or Grande Illusion.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Tthe trace of philosophical implication makes it worth more than lightly passing through.

Full Review… | May 10, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

An ironic comedy of fake French heroics and real French heroism, the film is delicate and witty and features a delightful performance from Jean-Pierre Cassel.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Follows along the lines of the director's The Grand Illusion, but without that film's depth.

Full Review… | January 6, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The tone is light and the repeated escape attempts are played with a comic undertone, yet behind the humor is the feeling of dignity lost...

Full Review… | April 26, 2007
Turner Classic Movies Online

Renoir draws a connection both to his past as a filmmaker and to Paris' past, emphasizing the senseless repetition of war and the timeless universality of man's fight for liberty.

Full Review… | August 30, 2006
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for The Elusive Corporal

a few moments that border on melodramatic for '62 but also nuanced moments of beauty and thoughts about freedom; Cassel is great

Adam Mahler

Super Reviewer

"The Elusive Corporal" starts with the French capitulation to German forces in 1940. All Guillaume(Jean Carnet), a soldier, wants to do now is return home and tend his pigs but the Nazis will not let him or any other French soldier leave. While the war may indeed may be over for the French, it is only just the start for the Nazis in trying to conquer all of Europe. That does not stop The Corporal(Jean-Pierre Cassel), Pop(Claude Brasseur) and Ballochet(Claude Rich) from giving it the old college try. Actually, Ballochet backs out at the last second while The Corporal and Pop are captured with a minimum of force. Next time will be harder since they are all being sent to Germany.

Directed by Jean Renoir with his customary finesse, "The Elusive Corporal" is a very engaging and life affirming tale of war that is more about rebelliousness than bravery. A lot of class conflict is touched on in the movie, especially around The Corporal who despite his wealthy background is only an enlisted man and I think a lot of that has to do with his problems with authority which never goes down that well in the armed forces. That also explains why he is consistently the only one to go over the wall, risking being sent off to a fortress(Colditz, perhaps?), as most of the other soldiers just try to get along. I did not understand his obsession with returning to France since that is now occupied territory(and I hear Switzerland is nice this time of year) until the final scene.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer


Not unpleasant as a comedy but far from a master piece. Good overall quality but lacks the originality and wit of the great films of the master. Totally forgettable and rightfully forgotten.

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