Back in the late sixties and early seventies, King of Hearts (1967), directed by Philippe De Broca, was one of the most popular cult films around. In a town in northern France during World War I, the retreating Germans have left behind a powerful time bomb. The advancing British army is warned about the hidden explosives and sends in French speaking Private Charles Plumpick (Alan Bates) to locate the bomb in the evacuated town. Through accident, the inmates of the local insane asylum are freed and, in a particularly graceful sequence enhanced by the music of composer Georges Delerue, slowly take over the town assuming a variety of social roles: a barber (Michael Serrault), a madam (Micheline Presle), a General (Pierre Brasseur) and a Duke (Jean-Claude Brialy). Between frantically searching for the bomb, hiding from the Germans and being crowned the "King of Hearts", Plumpick falls in love with one of the youngest and loveliest of the escapees, a girl called Coquelicot (Genevieve Bujold). Once the town is saved, Plumpick decides to join the inmates who have willingly returned to the asylum, opting for the "madness" of the insane rather than continuing with the "sanity" of war.
A favorite on college campuses and art house movie theaters, it ran at the Central Square Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts for five years non-stop! For a nation torn apart by the Vietnam War, De Broca's fairytale of nonconformity held a special appeal. Even today its antiwar message packs quite an impact. The recent DVD release of King of Hearts by MGM/UA includes two short sequences missing from the original theatrical and video releases in the United States. It's certainly worth a rental, although its whimsy may not appeal to everyone. However, King of Hearts is part of my permanent collection.
For fans of swashbucklers, Koch Lorber Films is releasing Philippe De Broca's On Guard on DVD and VHS this month. This superb period adventure, set in 18th century France and based on the novel Le Bossu by Paul Feval features an appealing cast and sumptuous and authentic sets and locations. I'd rate this one of the best swashbucklers ever!
Shouts of Praise For:
The last World War I veteran at Bay Pines VA Medical Center has died. Frank De Meis, an Italian immigrant wounded for America, was 106. Wounded by a grenade in France, he developed blood poisoning from shrapnel - a wound that he said may have saved his life. After treatment at hospitals, he returned to his unit to find that it had been annihilated in combat. After the war, on Sept. 29, 1920, he was sworn in as a naturalized citizen. He became a baker and worked at many hotels along the East Coast. Survivors include four daughters; 16 grandchildren; and 23 great-grandchildren.
Western Front travelers are told by their guides about the still unexploded mine from 1917 at the Messines battlefield. Well, apparently, there may be Six. (article)
Kelly Pegg's Tradition
Stonehedge in America!
|The following are hereby thanked for their contributions to this issue of the Trip Wire: Tom Jones, Tony Langley, Andy Melomet, Christina Holstein, Len Shurtleff and Kelly Pegg. Until next month, your editor, Mike Hanlon.|
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