The Grand Maneuver

1955 [FRENCH]

Comedy / Drama / Romance

IMDb Rating 6.7 10 1018

Plot summary

November 25, 2022 at 08:55 PM


René Clair

Top cast

Brigitte Bardot as Lucie
Michèle Morgan as Marie-Louise Rivière
Magali Noël as Thérèse, la chanteuse
985.62 MB
French 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 47 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bob998 9 / 10

Fine late film by Rene Clair

I'd seen only the great films from the 30's by this director, before enjoying this first color film from 1955. It is a light work with some sombre undertones from the military setting: we are after all in the summer of 1914, and the gallant young officers will soon be facing the terrors of the Great War. Clair reminds us that this world has vanished into the mists of time by the careful use of pastels--lavender, gray, pink--and by the camera receding into the distance: you hardly ever see a close up, most shots are long or medium. Leon Barsacq did a wonderful job as production designer; this is one of the best designed films I can remember seeing from this period.

Gerard Philipe is the best Armand you could wish for--he's brave and skilled as a soldier and incredibly immature as a man. The idea that you can carry on affairs with five women at a time is no more than a logistical problem for him. Michele Morgan plays her part so well; she's got to be mature and responsible (she's a divorcée, and hasn't been long in this town). Her heart is pulling her in a direction her mind doesn't want to go. Jean Desailly reminds me once again that he's one of the finest French actors: his Victor isn't a stuffy bourgeois, his heart is with Marie-Louise and he knows what a formidable opponent Armand is. Also he's got to combat the closed minds around him, notably his sisters.

Les Grandes manoevres can be compared to Rules of the Game, and if the Renoir classic is greater, it's because Renoir was dealing with more profound themes. I was engrossed in the story of this garrison town just the same.

Reviewed by writers_reign 8 / 10

Goodbye, Dragoon Inn

This is late Rene Clair but none the worse for that. The first thing you notice is the color; pastel to a fault so that even the bright red trousers of the dragoons seem somehow muted. There's an unreal quality about the whole thing so that the overall effect is like watching a marionette show under water. The next thing you notice is the toytown quality of the sets, reminiscent of the castle in Les Visiteurs du Soir, the whole town, interior and exterior looks as though it never needs sweeping or cleaning. The plot needn't detain us - the one about the babe magnet who either wagers himself or else his colleagues wager on his behalf that he can seduce (in the early 40s and The Fleet's In, the GI only had to KISS the girl to win the bet) a girl selected at random by a given date has been around since they were writing with papyrus - because it's Style not Content we've come to see and we don't go away frustrated. What we have here is one of the great beauties of French cinema - two if you want to stretch a point and include Gerard Philippe, who was about one generation ahead of Alain Delon in the Pretty Boys Who Can Also Act school - wearing exquisite clothes, smiling her exquisite smile (eat your heart out, Julia Roberts) and suffering as exquisitely as only Michele Morgan could. Against all the odds, plot one step up from total cliché, mannered acting, predictable outcome, etc, we keep on watching and more than that, watch it again and again. Let's face it, on a Clair day you can see forever.

Reviewed by benoit-3 10 / 10


This is one of the most finely crafted films of cinema's short history. Period atmosphere, costumes, sets, indoor and outdoor photography, pacing and editing are all superb. The music by Georges Van Parys is poignantly nostalgic and at the same time entertaining and light. The biggest attraction of this film, though, is the wit of its script, which could rival any comedy of Shaw or Wilde or Colette, and top them all for sheer virtuosity in the art of depicting the many faces of love, and its delivery by one of film history's most finely cast troupe of comedians. `Les Grandes Manoeuvres' is ostensibly a Gérard Philipe vehicle, full of his inimitable monologues, which lets Michèle Morgan do what she does best: suffer coldly, remotely, nobly, silently and elegantly. It is peopled by actors the likes of which this planet has rarely seen brought together, namely Jacqueline Maillan and Lise Delamare as Jean Desailly's wicked, two-faced, possessive sisters who marry the feline elegance of beasts of prey with the evil but colourful personality of Walt Disney's Cinderella's wicked stepmother. It features some of the most beautiful women of the planet: Morgan, Bardot, Dany Carrel, Magali Noël. The men are also physically and mentally highly idealized. This film is rarely shown and therefore largely unappreciated. It is only available on DVD in a pristine transfer in French only on a Brigitte Bardot boxset from Quebec ( comprising seven films of various worth ranging from this unqualified masterpiece to more lowly efforts to Fellini-Malle-Vadim's `Histoires extraordinaires'. This film is so good it is probably worth learning French to understand all its subtleties and absorb its unique charm. It makes all of René Clair's preceding efforts, even the most poetically imaginative like `Beauties of the Night', look like immature doodles or preliminary sketches.

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