La Grande Vadrouille (French pronunciation: [la ɡʁɑ̃d vaˈdʁuj]; literally "The Great Stroll"; originally released in the United Kingdom as Don't Look Now... We're Being Shot At!) is a 1966 French-British comedy film set in 1942 about French civilians who help the crew of a Royal Air Force bomber shot down over Paris to make their way through German-occupied France to safe territory.

La Grande Vadrouille
French theatrical release poster
Directed byGérard Oury
Written byMarcel Jullian
Gérard Oury
Danièle Thompson
Georges Tabet
André Tabet
Produced byRobert Dorfmann
Louis de Funès
Claudio Brook
CinematographyAndré Domage
Alain Douarinou
Claude Renoir
Edited byAlbert Jurgenson
Music byGeorges Auric
Hector Berlioz
Distributed byValoria Films (France)
Rank Film Distributors (UK)
Release dates
8 December 1966 (France)
5 May 1968 (UK)
Running time
132 minutes
United Kingdom
Budget$2.3 million
Box office$33 million (France)[1]

Plot edit

On a summer day in 1942, a lost RAF bomber strays over Paris and is shot down by German flak. After planning to reconvene in the Turkish baths at the Grand Mosque of Paris, the crew parachutes out, but only three evade capture. Sir Reginald lands in the Vincennes Zoo and, given civilian clothes by a friendly zookeeper, heads for the baths. Peter Cunningham lands on the platform of a house painter, Augustin Bouvet, from where they escape the Germans and are hidden by a puppet show operator, Juliette; Augustin goes to the baths on Cunningham's behalf. Alan MacIntosh lands on the Opéra Garnier, where he is reluctantly assisted by the chief conductor, Stanislas Lefort, who goes to the baths for him. All the while, the German military under Major Achbach furiously pursues the three and their helpers.

Following the rendezvous at the bath, Lefort leaves Reginald and Bouvet to arrange their pickup of MacIntosh, but in the meantime Achbach has discovered Lefort's connection with the fugitive aviators and takes him prisoner as he returns to the opera. That evening, Reginald and Bouvet, wearing stolen German uniforms, arrive to fetch MacIntosh, and in the confusion of a bombing attempt against a German SS commander, the three of them and Lefort are aided in their escape by Résistance members among the opera staff. However, they miss the train that Juliette and Peter are taking to Meursault, from where they can cross the line of demarcation to the French Free Zone. Due to a blunder, Peter is discovered, arrested, and brought to German headquarters in Meursault.

After getting out of Paris, Reginald, Lefort, Bouvet, and MacIntosh encounter Sister Marie-Odile, a nun whose order is secretly assisting the Résistance. Bouvet and Lefort are sent ahead to Meursault to a hotel owned by Juliette's aunt, but there they almost run into Achbach, who has traveled there to interrogate Cunningham. Disguised as a Feldgendarmerie patrol, they are supposed to make their way across the demarcation line the next morning, but are unmasked and brought back to Meursault. Reginald and MacIntosh are meant to be smuggled separately across the line by Marie-Odile, hidden in two wine casks, but due to a miscommunication, their casks are instead diverted into the cellar of the Meursault headquarters.

After discovering their friends' presence in the building, the aviators set a fire and use the ensuing mayhem to free them. With Marie-Odile driving a horse wagon, the fugitives make their way to a shuttered gliding club, where they intend to use the gliders to reach the nearby Free Zone. Closely pursued by Achbach, they manage to take off just in time, and a last-ditch attempt to bring them down with machine-gun fire is accidentally foiled by a cross-eyed soldier, allowing them to fly to safety.

Cast edit

Production edit

Mural in Beaune commemorating the filming of La Grande Vadrouille
Plaque in Meursault commemorating the filming of La Grande Vadrouille

The film was made by the same team (Oury, Bourvil and de Funès) who did the enormously successful The Sucker (1965).[2] It was shot at the Billancourt Studios in Paris with extensive location shooting around France. The film's sets were designed by the art director Jean André.

Reception edit

The film was the most popular of 1966 at the French box office with admissions of 17,275,169 and a gross of $32,994,000.[1] This was almost twice as much as the second most popular, Dr Zhivago, which had 9,816,305 admissions and a gross of $16,536,000.[3][1]

La Grande Vadrouille remained the most successful French film in France for over forty years, and is still the fifth most successful film ever in France (on the basis of admissions), of any nationality, behind the 1997 version of Titanic, French hits Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (2008) and Intouchables (2011), which were seen by over 19,000,000 cinemagoers, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.[4][5]

Legacy edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c "Biggest Grossers In France Over The Last 18 Yrs". Variety. 12 May 1976. p. 268.
  2. ^ "La Grande Vadrouille". Box Office Story.
  3. ^ "1966 French box office". Box Office Story.
  4. ^ Data on fr:Allociné
  5. ^ "Les Ch'tis plus forts que La Grande vadrouille", Olivier Corriez, TF1
  6. ^ "Aforementioned Meme". YouTube. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.

External links edit