Beating of Hearts

King of Hearts (1966 film)

King of Hearts (original French title: Le Roi de Cœur) is a French film set in a small town in France near the end of World War I. As a German army retreats they booby-trap the whole town to explode. The locals flee and, left to their own devices, a gaggle of cheerful lunatics escape the asylum and take over the town — thoroughly confusing the lone Scottish soldier who has been dispatched to defuse the bomb.

Plot summary

This 1966 film, directed by Philippe de Broca, stars Alan Bates as Charles Plumpick, a kilt-wearing Scottish soldier who is sent by his commanding officer to disarm the bomb.

When Plumpick enters the town, he unknowingly leaves the door to the insane asylum open while being chased by the Germans. When the Germans have left the town, all of the inmates leave the asylum and playfully take over the town. The adorable lunatics coronate Plumpick King of Hearts with surreal pageantry as he frantically tries to find the bomb before it goes off.

The film ends with the question of who is more insane, those in the asylum or the soldiers on the battlefield.

Theatrical releases

When it was released in France in 1966, King of Hearts was not especially successful critically or at the box office. However when released in the U.S. a year later, it achieved bona fide cult film status, eventually running for five years at the Central Square Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts and other repertoire movie theaters.

Two versions of the film were released. The original is black and white and in French with English subtitles, while the second version is in color and spoken in English.

Cast includes


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