The Elusive Corporal - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Elusive Corporal Reviews

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½ June 7, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
May 11, 2010
"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.
August 22, 2009
Should rank among the best of great directors' forgotten late works. Renoir's second-to-last film is a good deal more than the WWII update of 'Grand Illusion' that it's consistently billed as (though I won't argue that it's better than the earlier classic). To begin with, there are no Gabins or Stroheims here, and traces of their romantic loftiness are mostly absent (though something of Fresnay's ever-prideful "Captain de Boeldieu" comes back in the bespectacled prisoner's beautifully executed death scene). Even Cassel, the movie's ostensible center, is hardly singularized (and it should resonate that there's no pretense to nobility in the characters here). The film plays even faster and looser than 'Grand Illusion' with the farcical elements of prison life, all the while retaining pacifistic reminders about war's absurdity. There's also more naturalism in the aesthetic. The major kicker of course is that Renoir thinks 'The Elusive Corporal''s war IS worth fighting, and if the film fails at all it maybe does so at the level of arguing that last point (Cassel's "swastikas still depress me" line is hardly a rallying call). Perhaps Renoir wants to have it both ways by humanizing the Germans while calling for their defeat. That's hardly a disagreeable approach, but I can't shake the feeling that for most of the film Renoir skirts the issue, focusing in instead on the amusing, tender stuff of Frenchmen scrambling for their freedom.
June 27, 2009
Le caporal epingle is described as a comedy drama, but this story of multiple escapes by a French corporal from POW camps in WW2 didn't seem funny to me. I knew it wouldn't have the same depth as 'La grande illusion' or' La regle du jeu', but even so found it very disappointing on every level.
September 21, 2008
returning to the themes of his '37 masterpiece LA GRANDE ILLUSION, renoir once again created a humanistic, humorous, warm, elegant, but also serious movie about war and its consequences. renoir is a master and LE CAPORAL √?PINGL√? might not be his very best, but ranks definitely among his better works.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2008
a few moments that border on melodramatic for '62 but also nuanced moments of beauty and thoughts about freedom; Cassel is great
½ December 30, 2007
French Corporal prisoner of Nazi WW2 attempting multiple escapes, never giving up hope for freedom.
A little flat, nevertheless, the warm humor and portrayed humanity make this a good film.
June 26, 2007
One might suspect that this film would be an attempt to make Grand Illusion for WW2 but this is actually a good movie. The film is very funny without turning into a farse about the war, the film shows that escaping from a POW camp is more luck than anything else. Like Grand Illusion there is a focus on friendship between soldiers and fronteers are an important aspect.
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