THE GRAND MANEUVER (LES GRANDES MANOEUVRES) (aka: SUMMER MANOEVRES) (director/writer: Rene Clair; screenwriter: Jean Marsan/Jerome Geronimi; cinematographer: Robert Lefebvre; editors: Denise Natot/Louise Hautecoeur; music: Georges Van Parys; cast: Gerard Phillipe (Lieut Armand de la Verne), Michele Morgan (Marie-Louise Riviera), Brigitte Bardot  (Lucie), Yves Robert (Felix),  Jean Desailly (Victor Duverger), Jacques Francois (Rudolph), Magalie Noel (Therese-singer), Olivier Hussenot (The Prefect), Raymond Cordy (The Photographer), Catherine Anoulth (Alice-the bride), Pierre Dux (Colonel), Jacques Fabbri (Armand's Batman), Simone Valere (Gisele), Lise Delamare (Jeanne Duverger), Jacqueline Maillan (Juliette Duverger); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Rene Clair; United Motion Picture Organization; 1955-France-in French with English subtitles)

"It lacks an edge and though elegantly filmed in grand costumes it lacks sophisticated wit and its over familiar plot is too predictable."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Rene Clair ("Le Million"/"Under the Roofs of Paris"/"Beauties of the Night") directs his first picture in color. The French romantic/comedy farce has limited success--it lacks an edge and though elegantly filmed in grand costumes it lacks sophisticated wit and its over familiar plot is too predictable. Writers Clair, Jean Marsan and Jerome Geronimi seem lost as to what to say about its ironical romantic antics

In 1913, just prior to WW I, the dashing rakish Lt. Armand de la Verne (Gerard Phillipe) boasts and wagers with his fellow officers in the dragoons that he will seduce any woman who wins the raffle in this provincial garrison town and by the time the regiment goes on summer maneuvers she will be his. The raffle winner is the distant blonde divorcee milliner Marie-Louise Riviera (Michele Morgan), who leaves the rake with egg on his kisser when he really falls in love with her but because of his womanizing rep she resists his seduction and leaves him out in the cold. 

The handsome but stodgy suitor of Marie, Victor Duverger (Jean Desailly), does a good job as the love competition with the opposite personality. While Yves Robert, as the lieutenant's roommate and pal, and the tantalizing Brigitte Bardot, the sex object of Armand's affections, add spice to the bourgeois romance story.

Clair, a renown director who has lost some of his cinematic punch over the years, boldly declares, when told that his love story is too frivolous, that 'love is the only concern of the film ...  and it's a very serious matter.' But the pic suffers because the director pushes its resolution in a too gentle and frothy direction when such a story demands to be a more moving emotional experience.

REVIEWED ON 6/24/2014       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"