Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jean-Pierre Cassel, Claude Brasseur, O.E. Hasse, Claude Rich, Jacques Jouanneau, Sacha Briquet, Raymond Jourdan, Guy Bedos, Philippe Castelli, Gˇrard Darrieu, Lucien Raimbourg, Fran¨ois Darbon, Cornelia Froboess
Written by: Guy Lefranc, Jean Renoir, based on a novel by Jacques Perret
Directed by: Jean Renoir
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: French, German, with English subtitles
Running Time: 90
Date: 23/05/1962

The Elusive Corporal (1962)

3 Stars (out of 4)

'Corporal' Punishment

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jean Renoir's The Elusive Corporal (1962) is about three colleagues attempting to negotiate and/or escape WWII prison-camps. The movie inevitably draws comparisons to Renoir's masterpiece Grand Illusion (1937) and comes up short. But it's a different kind of movie, made from a different point of view and containing a measure of playfulness. It actually reminded me more of The Great Escape, which came along the following year. Jean-Pierre Cassel (The Crimson Rivers) plays the title role.

DVD Details: The film is included in Lionsgate's 3-disc Jean Renoir DVD box set, which also contains unbelievably crisp transfers on all seven titles: La Fille de l'eau (1925), Nana (1926), Charleston Parade (1927), The Little Match Girl (1928), La Marseillaise (1938), Le Testament du Docteur Cordelier (1959), and The Elusive Corporal (1962). Martin Scorsese provides insightful introductions on all the films, and makes persuasive arguments that these films are not at all "minor" Renoirs. A featurette includes interviews with many Renoir fans, including cinematographer Michel Ballhaus, and Renoir's grandson Alain (a professor at UC Berkeley).

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