The pilot originally aired on 30 December 1982. It was repeated as the first of a series of eight episodes aired from 7 September to 26 October 1984.
|Series No.||Episode No.||Episode Title||Original UK Airdate|
|Pilot||1||The British Are Coming||30 December 1982|
|1.01||2||Series One Episode One||14 September 1984|
|1.02||3||Pigeon Post||21 September 1984|
|1.03||4||Saville Row to the Rescue||28 September 1984|
|1.04||5||The Execution||5 October 1984|
|1.05||6||The Funeral||12 October 1984|
|1.06||7||Red Nick's Colonel||19 October 1984|
|1.07||8||The Dance of Hitler Youth||26 October 1984|
The two German officers, colonel Kurt Von Strohm and captain Hans Geering, are having lunch at the café René. After their lunch, the colonel breaks the wishbone of the rabbit they've just been having with the patron, René Artois. René wins and explains his wish was for the war to end soon - with the Germans' winning of course, he assures the colonel. When the two Germans then ask for the services of his two waitresses, Yvette Carte-Blanche and Maria Recamier, he bargains for some supplies in exchange for this. Yvette comes up to him and informs him that there is a woman in the back room. When René, his wife Edith Artois and the two waitresses proceed inside, they meet Michelle Dubois, leader of the French resistance, who tells him at gun point about the Resistance and that until recently she has been hiding two British flying officers, shot down in the vicinity, in a safe house - a café just like René's, with a patron just like him. She follows with a sad story of what happened to the patron and his wife when they were discovered by the Germans (they were taken into the town square and shot, singing La Marseillaise). René is therefore frightened when she tells him that his is to be the next safe house. She also informs him that he will be harboring a counterfeiter who will forge the airmen's papers. He is to arrive the day after and when René points out that he will need papers, Michelle replies: "He is a forger, he will make his own papers".
We cut to a scene of members of the resistance literally breaking an elderly man out of jail (by blowing away a part the wall of the prison and towing the wall segment and the man's bed away). This man turns out to be Roger LeClerc, although we do not learn this until later. Back in the café, Edith informs René of the code words that LeClerc will use to reveal himself to René (LeClerc will be having a cigar in his mouth and ask him for a light, after which René is supposed to say "I have no matches"). Unfortunately, a German lieutenant (who later turns out to be Hubert Gruber) shows up with a cigar. René assumes he is the forger and says "I suppose you would like a light". The officer replies that he would, but when René says he doesn't have one, the officer is puzzled as to why René asked him if he doesn't have a light. He then picks up his own matchbook, lights his cigar and gives a spare pack to René, who then asks him straight out: "Are you one of them?" and Gruber replies "Well, it was very lonely on the Russian front." When LeClerc finally turns up and is about to ask for a light, Gruber lights his cigar before he gets a chance to perform the secret code words. In order to go through with it, he still asks René for a light and when Gruber asks him why - he just gave him one - he says "I don't want the light, I was just wondering if he had the light". According to plan, René answers that he has no matches and Gruber thinks this unfair - he just gave him his spare pack. In desperation, René replies "Well, these are your matches, not mine". Eventually, everything is straightened out and LeClerc can go down the cellar to start forging papers.
Later in the evening, René and Yvette are having a tête-à-tête in the back room of the café, when the British airmen (Carstairs and Fairfax) arrive by the window, dressed as onion sellers - two days early. They don't understand a word René and Yvette are saying and they don't understand a word the airmen are saying. This leads to a few misunderstandings before the airmen are allowed inside. René points at his watch to indicate that they are early and they think it means he wants their watches as payment to let them in. When one of the airmen points at his mouth - indicating that he is hungry - René thinks he has a toothache and gives him some pliers for this. As they then try to tell the airmen they have to hide, Yvette illustrates this by going behind the curtains by the window. The airmen think this means she wants one of them to go behind the curtain with her, but it soon turns it that was not what she meant. Luckily, Michelle of the Resistance arrives and as she speaks both French and English, she functions as a communication link between the airmen and the French. The airmen are sent down into the cellar, whereas the others go up to the second floor, contacting London on the radio, which has been installed under the floor in the bedroom of Edith's mother, Fanny La Fan. Their secret contact in London, which refer to them as "Nighthawk", informs them that two British flying officers will arrive this evening. René and his wife misunderstand this and think it means that two more airmen will arrive and that they have to get rid of the two they are already hiding.
Colonel Von Strohm and captain Geering are enjoying a quiet day, with the colonel explaining to the captain about the theft of the silver, the world's oldest cuckoo clock and the painting of "The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies" by the artist Van Clomp. Herr Otto Flick of the Gestapo arrives at their headquarters, and the two officers quickly hide the valuables. Herr Flick announces that he has come to find the stolen painting, and the officers panic. They hide the treasures in René's cellar, only to find the British airmen there. They decide to turn both them and René in. However, Herr Flick arrives upstairs and, in order for him not to find the painting, they quickly change their mind and instead cover for him. Once herr Flick is gone, the Colonel dictates that since he has now got a catch on René (the two airmen hiding in his cellar and the painting and the clock also hidden in the cellar) from now on, he gives the orders when it comes to the waitresses and their services.
René and his waitresses are hiding the painting of the fallen Madonna with the big boobies and the priceless cuckoo clock in the cellar of the café by bricking them up. While doing this, they receive notice that Michelle of the resistance is in the back room with an urgent message. It turns out the German officers want to see René to interrogate him, which is confirmed by the German colonel's ringing the café during their talk. In case René would be tortured and not be able to bare it, Michelle gives him a ring containing a suicide pill.
At the German headquarters, captain Geering explains to colonel Von Strohm, that they need some pliers and some rubber hose, to connect to a gas poker in the fireplace to easily build a fire whenever they want. Helga announces René, who tries to plead to them by giving them some gifts (a bottle of wine, some fine cigars, some fine cheese, some Napoleon cognac and a small perfume bottle for Helga). When Helga withdraws and asks, if they desire anything else, Hans asks for the pliers and the rubber hose, which makes René panic, since he thinks they are going to torture him with them. The colonel has made up his mind to hand over both the painting and René to the Gestapo, him for having hidden the British airmen, the painting in order to get rid of the Gestapo. In order to relieve him of the pain the Gestapo will put him under when they torture him, the colonel also gives him a ring with a suicide pill in it. René tries to talk him out of it and comes up with the plan of having the painting copied, so that they can give the forgery to the Gestapo and keep the original themselves. René mention he knows a forger (monsieur LeClerc) and that he will ask him to make the copy. As payment he says the forger would like some wine, some cigars, etcetera and takes the merchandise back, except the cheese, which the colonel wants to keep. Colonel Von Strohm and captain Geering agree to this and let René go.
Herr Flick arrives at the café, in order to have a private dinner with Helga in the backroom. Soon afterwards, René comes home and asks monsieur LeClerc if he can copy the painting, but he says he cannot, since he can't paint. When London calls on the radio in Edith's mother's bedroom and gives the message, that the two British airmen will be picked up that same night - one week early - they get the idea of sending the painting with them to London, to have it forged there. Michelle arrives and informs them the airmen must leave immediately. Since they cannot go out the front door (because of all the Germans in the café) and not through the back window (because of Herr Flick's and Helga's having dinner in the backroom) they all help tying a rope from the sheets of the bed, in order to let the airmen out through the bedroom window.
However, it turns out that the sheets are not long enough, so they come up with another plan of letting the airmen go out the front door - disguised as German officers. They do so after colonel Von Strohm and captain Geering have been persuaded to lend them their uniforms, in exchange for some private moments with the waitresses. The airmen put on the uniforms and one of them hides the painting underneath his clothes. Then, they leave through the front door, with the German officers in their underwear watching them from the windows of the upper floor.
The British airmen have left the café, dressed in the colonel's and the captain's German uniforms. However, the airmen don't return their uniforms and they are getting more and more impatient to get them back. As Herr Flick of the Gestapo has finished his dinner with Helga, he decides to search the café. In order for him not to find the captain and the colonel, they are hidden, in their underwear, in the cupboard in madame Fanny's room.
While everybody else is carrying out this arrangement, René and Maria have a secret meeting in the backroom (which Herr Flick has now left), but they are soon interrupted by Michelle of the resistance, who, after René, Maria, Yvette and Edith all have gathered there, informs them that the British airmen have been captured by the communist resistance (Michelle is part of another, Gaullist resistance). Since they do not know where they are, they cannot get the uniforms back. Michelle then decides to ask for two German uniforms to be made in London. When René points out that he cannot tell the Germans he is in contact with London, Edith suggests telling the Germans that monsieur LeClerc is a tailor, who is going to make their new uniforms and therefore needs to take their measurements. After she has gone to tell LeClerc this, René points out that they cannot use the radio to contact London, since the Germans are hiding in the room where they have the radio. Michelle then suggests they contact London by carrier pigeon. Maria will go and pick them up the next day, disguised as a small boy.
When Roger LeClerc enters Fanny's room, she panics, since she thinks he has come to take the measurements for her coffin. However, she is soon calmed down when she and Roger recognize each other. It turns out they were childhood sweethearts and are very glad to meet again after all these years.
The next day, Michelle's resistance group discovers that the British airmen are being held by the communist resistance in a barn. Since they are wearing German uniforms, the communists think they are Germans and are about to torture them, to make them talk. Since the communists do not understand English and the airmen do not understand French, they misunderstand what the communists want and who they are. When they are shown a carburetor, with which the communists are about to torture them, they think they want them to fix their broken car. At first, they decline, since they do not know anything about cars. However, at gunpoint, they agree by nodding their heads - the communists thinking they are willing to talk. As they are cut lose, Michelle's resistance start shooting at the barn. Both the communists and the airmen think it is the Germans attacking and the communists escape, leaving the airmen. In order not to be shot as spies, the airmen get out of the uniforms and burn them.
Meanwhile, the two German officers dress up as onion sellers (using the disguises left by the airmen in the cupboard). They take a seat in the café and threaten René that he will be shot, unless he provides their uniforms in a hurry. Maria arrives in the café, disguised as a small boy, with the pigeons. Lieutenant Gruber gets a little suspicious as he sees this "boy" wearing suspenders and stockings, but as he is "one of them", he doesn't find it too strange. When Maria has hidden the pigeons, Herr Flick arrives and discover the captain and the colonel in their disguises. As an explanation, they make up a story about attempting to infiltrate the resistance. Herr Flick likes the idea and decides that he and Helga should do the same. After René has lectured Maria for not disguising herself better, Michelle shows up. After they have attached a note with the Germans' measurements to one of the pigeons, they airmen show up, dressed as scarecrows. The others hope to get the uniforms back from them, but as they learn that they have burned them, they must send for them from London after all. However, they can now do this over the radio, since the Germans are no longer hiding in the radio room. The pigeons are of no further use, so Maria leaves them in the kitchen.
Herr Flick takes Helga to his dungeon headquarters and orders her to undress, so they can disguise themselves as onion sellers. It turns out she is wearing a rather daring corset and asks Herr Flick if he disapproves of it. Not at all, he says, as it turns out he is wearing one himself.
Edith discovers Roger in Fanny's bed and when she learns about their love story, she approves of it. Meanwhile, René tells the Germans that their new uniforms will be made in London. The colonel is a little distressed to hear they will be made by Jewish tailors. However, there is not time to complain about this when Helga and Herr Flick arrive, dressed as onion sellers. René asks Edith to cook something special for them and, not knowing that the pigeons in the kitchen are carrier pigeons, she uses them to make casserole of pigeon. As the four "onion sellers" start eating it, Herr Flick discovers a note attached to one of the pigeons' legs and discovers it contains the measurements of two German officers' uniforms. Herr Flick leaves with the note, in order to send it straight to Berlin for analysis. However, since there are no names mentioned on the note, the others can then relax and enjoy the casserole in peace.
Edith is singing for the guests at the café, while René, who is carrying the painting under his shirt, gets note from Maria that Michelle wants to see him in the backroom. She gives him a bottle and when he asks what's in it, she replies "Bols!" At first, René takes offence to this, but she explains that it is Bols Gin - that is, nitroglycerin disguised as a bottle of Bols Gin. She wants him to hide it in his cellar for the moment, so they can use it to blow up the railway during the night. When she leaves, René goes to the bar with the bottle. However, lieutenant Gruber is standing there, wanting "something different" to drink. He suggests trying the gin, but René is reluctant to open it - since it really contains nitroglycerin. He says he will not open it for just one person. However, Gruber suggests René himself have a glass, and Yvette and Edith. When René still refuses, Gruber grabs the bottle, offers to buy the whole bottle and bangs it on the bar, making René quite nervous.
Fanny cries for somebody to come and attend to her and the airmen, who are once again hiding in her cupboard, ask her to keep it down - but as they do not understand each other, it doesn't happen. However, soon Edith brings her some onion soup. Fanny complains that it is always onion soup. Edith explains to her it is because the airmen will escape dressed as onion sellers and they cannot waste the onions, but Fanny says she wants a steak or poached eggs. When Edith says the don't have any eggs because the hens are not laying any, Fanny mentions that in "her days" they used to spice up the hen food with gin, which would always make them lay. She also wants some gin for herself and Edith goes after the gin bottle René has acquired from Michelle (unbeknownst to Edith containing nitroglycerin).
The two German officers are still dressed as onion sellers, sitting at a table in the café. The colonel is concerned that they have been away from the office a whole day and wonders what their superiors in Berlin will think if they find out. He also complains that when they did try to get in, the German sentry did not recognize them and even hit the colonel with his rifle butt. At this point, Helga shows up with bad news. Nobody has told her the uniforms are being made in London and so, she has been to the local cleaner's, asking for their spare uniforms, but they were not ready - they have been sent to Paris for "deluxe service" - on captain Geering's orders, it turns out. She also mentions that one of their superiors - general Erich von Klinkerhoffen - will arrive at their headquarters at ten o'clock the next day. That means they must be back, in uniform, by that time. Since it does not seem to work out, the captain suggests them getting a revolver and the colonel thinks it is to commit suicide with, in order to save their faces. However, the captain explains he only meant for them to shoot some of their toes off, so they would become invalids and go to hospital, in order to avoid meeting the general.
Edith pours two glasses from the "gin" bottle. She tells monsieur LeClerc to give one of them to her mother and Maria to mix the other one with the hen food. The colonel threatens to shoot René if they do not get their uniforms back by that same evening. René points out that they are being made in London and that the tailor was delayed since he had to go to a bar mitzvah. Helga is somewhat distraught at hearing they are being made in London and even by a Jewish tailor, but the officers tell her not to care.
When René discovers that Edith has opened the gin bottle and explains to her what it really contains, it turns out it is already too late - Fanny has already taken some and the hens have already been fed with it. They lay their eggs behind the hedge and as they do so, they blow up, one by one. Fanny is alright, but is somewhat difficult to silence as they contact London on the radio in her room.
Meanwhile, Herr Flick arrives in the café, ordering the colonel and the captain to report anything about the missing painting to him and Helga to be in his office in one hour. After he has left, René comes down and informs the Germans that their uniforms are on their way. A British plane will land in the vicinity that same night. The uniforms will be on it, the painting will be sent to London with it, to be copied, and the British airmen will go back to England with it. Edith tries to inform René that Michelle wants to see him, by saying that a man has arrived to read the gas meter (since she cannot mention Michelle in front of the Germans). René does not understand her and asks her to say what she means. Angrily, she says straight out, in front of the Germans, that Michelle of the resistance wants to see him. When the Germans learn that René is connected to the resistance, they decide to shoot Michelle, but René prevents this by informing them that Michelle is the only one who knows where the plane will land.
That same night, the Germans have come along on the mission and are even able to help the party get passed a bridge, guarded by a German sentry. As he tries to tell the sentry who he really is, the sentry is hit in the back of the head and faints. At first, the colonel and the captain are very upset that their own people are knocked unconscious, but when they find out that it is the same sentry that hit the colonel with his rifle butt, it's not so bad after all. When the plane arrives, it turns out the pilot has a passenger with him - namely, the tailor who is making the uniforms. He tries the colonel's uniform on him and it turns out it's too small. He must then return to London to finish the uniforms and it turns out the airmen cannot go with them - the plane is too small to carry four people. However, they manage to send the painting with the plane.
After the plane has left, Michelle decides to blow up the railway. Captain Geering offers to help, since he has taken a course in explosives. Colonel Von Strohm does not like the idea of helping the resistance blow up their supply lines, but, as Geering points out, if they help blow up the railway, Von Klinkerhoffens train will not arrive, so they will not have to meet him and he will not find out they do not have their uniforms. And, as Michelle points out, if they do not cooperate, they will be shot.
Helga arrives at Herr Flick's headquarters very punctually - only twelve seconds late, which pleases him. He orders her to take off her jacket and let down her hair. His orders seem like innuendos, but they are not - it is only him being stiff. He asks her, if she thinks the colonel will find the missing painting and she answers, truthfully, that it is hard to say - "the whole thing is in the air at the moment".
The whole "team" (René, Yvette, Maria, the airmen, the German officers (dressed as onion sellers), Michelle and her aides) ride the lorry of the resistance to the railway and start preparing to blow it up. Yvette has had the gin bottle with the explosives strapped to her thigh all the time and now gives it to Michelle. She complains that there is a lot missing and René explains why. Since the remaining nitroglycerin might not be enough, she also decides to crash the lorry onto the railway, together with the explosion. René, Yvette and the Germans are therefore left alone with the bottle. Hans, who is holding the bottle, thinks they ought to have a drink while they are waiting, but when René informs him that the bottle does not contain gin but nitroglycerin he becomes too nervous and throws the bottle away - accidentally blowing up the railway. This wakes up the nearby German guards who start shooting at the lorry. It leaves with the resistance girls, the airmen and Maria, whereas René, Yvette and the German officers are left behind. After the guards have stopped shooting and the four have surrendered, they are captured and put in a prison cell.
Edith informs her mother, in whose bed she finds monsieur LeClerc, that René has been arrested by the Germans and will be shot. Fanny thinks it is because he has really done something and says she always knew he was a crook. When Edith remembers that monsieur LeClerc has been in prison many times, she asks if he can help her rescue René and he says he will.
In the cell, it turns out that the colonel, who is in there too, is the only person who can order their release. However, when Helga shows up by the small barred window in the cell, standing on a peasant, she mentions that their spare uniforms have arrived from the cleaner's and she gives them a hacksaw to saw through the bars. The colonel says he will still not be able to get out through that small window and he is the one who must sign the release orders. Hans points out that he could get out and forge the colonel's signature on the papers. Before she leaves, Helga also mentions that general Von Klinkerhoffen will arrive by car and is most displeased. Before they can do anything else, they receive a visitor and Hans is forced to hide the hacksaw in his trousers. It turns out the visitor is monsieur LeClerc - disguised as a priest. He also gives them a hacksaw for their escape, after which he leaves. At the same moment, more visitors arrive and Hans is forced to hide the second hacksaw in his trousers. The visitors turn out to be Edith and Fanny, who also give the party in the cell a hacksaw - its being Michelle's idea. Hans hides this hacksaw in his trousers too, but after that, they come up with another plan. Edith and Fanny switch clothes with the colonel and the captain, so they are dressed as onion sellers and the colonel as Fanny and the captain as Edith. Then, when the visitors have to leave, the officers get out that way and can get back to their office, put on their spare uniforms and sign the release orders for them all.
Edith, Fanny and Yvette are released, but the general decides to keep René for a while, in order to have someone to show to general Von Klinkerhoffen. When he arrives, they will tell him that René is an unimportant and innocent bystander who should be released. They try this plan, but the general wants to make an example of him and have him shot the next morning. When the general has left, René demands the colonel find a way to get him out of the calamity he is in. The colonel then comes up with the plan of giving the firing squad wooden bullets, which disintegrate ten feet from the muzzle of the rifle. When they fire, René will pretend to fall down as if dead.
René is brought back to the cell, where many people come to say their last farewell to him. The sixth one is Maria, who gives him a third ring with a suicide pill (apart from those he has received from Michelle and the colonel, which he is still wearing). She also gives him a hacksaw for him to escape.
In the morning, everybody comes to attend the execution. Hans brings a box with wooden bullets and a box with real one, to show the colonel that they look exactly the same. However, before he can do anything with them, lieutenant Gruber, who is to lead the firing squad, takes both boxes and hands out bullets to the firing squad. Gruber, who fancies René, says a sad farewell to him and just before the firing squad shoots, Edith, Yvette, Maria, Fanny, monsieur LeClerc and Michelle start singing La Marseillaise. After René has fallen down and is believed to be dead, all Germans (the captain, the lieutenant, the colonel, the general and the firing squad) leave and the relatives are allowed to remove the body. As they bend over René, it turns out he is not actually dead and says, in a low voice, "Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once. My bum is on a thistle!"
The captain and the colonel are having lunch at the café and asks René to give them some private moments with his waitresses. René asks them if lieutenant Gruber, who was in charge of the firing squad and who knows René, will not find it strange to find him alive, now that he is officially dead. The Germans answer, that they have told Gruber, that the café is now being run by René's twin brother, René from Nancy. Helga arrives to tell them she has told Herr Flick the same thing.
When Edith brings her mother food, it turns out Fanny is convinced René is actually dead. She asks if Edith has found his will and also tells her to remarry - suggesting she marries monsieur Maurice, the hotel owner. Edith tries in vain to make her understand that René is not dead, but she manages to make her understand that the airmen are no longer hiding in her wardrobe - they are now in the hen house.
Lieutenant Gruber arrives at the café and pays his respects to René, whom he thinks is his twin brother. As they chitchat in order to get acquainted, Edith comes down and tells René they have to "feed the chickens" (that is, give food to the airmen) and addresses him as "René". Gruber wonders about this and René tells him that he and his brother were both called René - René 1 and René 2.
Herr Flick arrives at the German officers' headquarters and Helga addresses him very intimately, by first name. As he is there on official business, he tells her to refer to him as "Herr Flick" and complains that she is wearing perfume - German soldiers should not wear perfume on duty. He is satisfied with her looks and lets her kiss him - without showing any feelings. Then, he enters the room where the Germans are and orders them to attend René's funeral in order to get the names and addresses of those who are present. He will observe it from a distance.
The two airmen are sitting in the hen house and feel rather hungry, when Michelle brings them some food.
When René, Edith and Yvette go upstairs to contact London, Fanny is shocked and disappointed to find out René is still alive. As they contact London, they are informed that the merchandise they have sent for - the two German uniforms and the copy of the painting - will be dropped by plane at midnight. When they are done, Maria comes up and informs them there is an undertaker downstairs, who has come to measure René for his coffin. Therefore, he, Edith and Yvette go downstairs
The undertaker's name turns out to be monsieur Alfonse. When he asks them where the body is, they give different answers, since they have not thought of a common story to tell. Monsieur Alfonse asks what material the coffin should be made of - oak, ash, elm or pine - and as Edith chooses oak (which is the most expensive), he suggests bronze handles for the coffin. They also discuss a plate with a few words on the coffin lid, which makes it even more expensive - many thousand francs. René does not want these expenses, but Edith says she will pay, since René has left everything to her in his will. Then comes the moment when monsieur Alfonse is to measure the body. René says he can measure him, since they are both the same height and build, but monsieur Alfonse refuses - every undertaker in France would laugh at him if it came out he had measured somebody else than the corpse. Therefore, René comes up with a plan to pose as his dead twin brother. While Yvette gives monsieur Alfonse a glass of cognac, René runs into the kitchen, makes his face white by putting flour on it and then enters the backroom through the window. There, removes everything from the made table - making a terrible noise, which monsieur Alfonse wonders about (Edith tells him it is the unruly spirit of her late husband) - and then lies down on the table, putting the table cloth over himself. The three go into the room and monsieur Alfonse measures "the body", noticing and wondering why he has flour on his face. Yvette explains he was baking when he was arrested. Monsieur Alfonse explains that he will also need René's brothers signature, so after they have left the backroom, René has to go around the back again, into the kitchen, wash off the flour and come back out into the café. When he has signed and monsieur Alfonse is about to leave, he remembers he has left his tape measure in the backroom. In order not to let him in there, the three others all offer to get it for him.
Later in the evening, when they have received the coffin, René and Edith are filling it with bottles and other things to make it heave, to make everybody believe there is a body inside it. Suddenly, Michelle and her resistance girls arrive and inform them, that they did not receive the uniforms and the painting in the air drop. Instead they were given anti tank mines, which they have to hide somewhere as the Germans are after them. With no time to lose, Michelle and her gang disappear through the backroom and René and Edith hide the mines in the coffin. The Germans come looking for the resistance but René and Edith manage to make them go through the backroom and leave. Soon after, Kurt and Hans arrive and René is surprised to hear they are coming to the funeral. They inform him that Herr Flick will be watching from a distance and ask him to make sure no members of the resistance are there. Then, Yvette and Maria show up dressed in long white gowns - they will be the choir. Monsieur LeClerc comes in dressed as a priest. At first, René disapproves of this, but when he learns he wants 500 francs - compared to a real priest who wants 3,000 - he likes the idea. As Gruber has also arrived, they all pay their respects to the deceased.
The next day, the funeral party walk to church. Herr Flick and Helga watch from a distance. When they have arrived it turns out nobody has the key for the church gate (the priest is supposed to have it, but since monsieur LeClerc is not a real priest, he does not have it). As they talk about what to do next, the cart with the coffin starts rolling away down the road and everybody starts chasing after it. They do not catch up with it, but finally, it stops, the coffin falls off and explodes, throwing dirt all over the place, even on Herr Flick and Helga.
René bakes a cake for the colonel's birthday, which is celebrated in the café. Monsieur LeClerc plays the piano and the others (René, Yvette, Maria, Hans, Helga and Hubert) sing "Happy Birthday to You" to him. However, René tells him not to eat the icing on the cake, since it is plaster of Paris (because Hans could not provide him with sugar). When he asks for his presents, the waitresses tell him they will have surprises for him in their rooms. Edith shows up and announces she has a surprise right now - she will sing for the colonel. After a session of her excruciatingly bad singing, they have a glass of champagne. The colonel asks René about the airmen and the painting. He explains that the airmen are still around, but hidden, and that the painting is being copied in London and will soon be dropped by parachute. Then, the colonel can give the forgery to herr Flick and everything will be fine. Helga asks him if she can be in on the proceeds from the selling of the painting after the war, but the colonel gives her a somewhat oraculous answer. Suddenly, the communist resistance shows up to kidnap the colonel. The resistance girls think René is a friend of the colonel's, but he and his wife avoid capture, by telling them the icing on the cake was plaster of Paris (would you give that to your friend?) and that Edith's singing was not pleasant - even to the Germans. The colonel and the captain are kidnapped by the girls, but Gruber avoids it by hiding behind the bar.
Michelle turns up in the backroom and René complains to her about the resistance having captured the Germans. After she has explained to him, that it was not her resistance group - hers are faithful to de Gaulle, they are communists - who did the kidnapping, she also tells him that she and her girls will take care of it (since they know the communists' hideout) and that he must contact London and tell them the airmen cannot go to the coast that same evening, as planned. René has not heard of this plan, but Michelle informs him, he would have right then, if the Germans had not been captured. She would have gone herself, but she would be missed at her job - post mistress in the next village.
Monsieur LeClerc brings Fanny some cake but when she learns it is the German colonel's birthday cake, she spits it out. Then, René, Michelle and Yvette show up and Michelle explains they cannot use the radio, because the Gestapo will search the café when investigating the two German officers' disappearance. Instead, they must get rid of the radio, by ripping it loose and throw it out the window - onto a waiting resistance lorry. They do so, but forget the code book. When they discover it, the lorry has already gone and so, they are forced to eat the pages of the book. The airmen, who are once again hiding in the cupboard, are forced out the window, onto the roof, to find a better place to hide. As they are hungry, Michelle gives them some more code book papers to chew on.
Edith and some café guests are lined up to be interrogated by herr Flick. He asks Edith why she is dressed like she is. When she tells him she was entertaining the colonel and he asks her to prove it, she sings a few notes, but herr Flick does not believe she was "entertaining" him with her horrible singing voice. However, Helga vouches for the truth in this. He also asks Gruber if he remembers the faces of the resistance girls but as he is a homosexual, he thinks all girls look the same. Herr Flick then informs the group that if the colonel and the captain are not returned to his office no later than eight o'clock the next morning, ten peasants will be shot in the town square. When he is about to leave and gives the "Heil Hitler!" salute, the Frenchmen spit after him. This makes him change the quota to twenty peasants.
The colonel and the captain are standing, their hands tied behind their backs, in a barn. The colonel manages to get his lighter out and tries to burn through Hans's ropes. However, all he manages is to put him through excruciating pain and burn the strap of his wristwatch off. René is, blindfolded, taken to the communist hide out, where the resistance girls want him to shoot the colonel and the captain - in order to avenge his brother, whom they had shot. First, he tries to get out of the situation of being the one to shoot them by claiming that he did not like his brother. When they still force him to do it, he asks to be alone in his moment of revenge, which they agree to and leave. As he is about to cut the Germans loose with a sharp knife, the resistance girls come back. He explains the knife in his hand with his wanting to torture them a while. The girls have picked up something, which was dropped by parachute, namely two identical paintings and two German uniforms, with the colonel's and the captain's names on them. The German officers then try to fool the girls into believing they are British spies, disguised as Germans. Suddenly, gunshots are heard and the communists think it is the German army and leaves, dropping the uniforms and the painting. However, it turns out it is Michelle, Edith, Yvette and Maria, disguised as German soldiers. René cuts the Germans loose and the four "soldiers" enter the barn, showing they are not real soldiers. The Germans head back towards Nuovion, with the paintings.
Herr Flick and Helga are in a staff car, looking for the officers. At one point, they are forced to crank the car, which is done in a very innuendos way. Soon after that, they find the officers and they hand the forged painting over to him. He leaves them on the road to walk back, but at least they will now be rid of him. They go to the café and wake up everyone there. When they are let in, they all have one last look at the painting, before it is to be hidden until the end of the war. However, they discover a little note in the corner of it. Hans, who knows a little English, translates it and it says, that this is the forgery - which means they have given herr Flick the original and must get it back somehow.
René and Maria are having a secret meeting in the larder. Maria asks him if they will be married after the war and he assures her that they will. She also asks if he is sure nobody knows they are there and he assures her nobody knows - the second after which Michelle turns up by the window, wanting to talk to René. She informs him that monsieur LeClerc will arrive during the day, dressed as a cheese salesman. He will have a suitcase with cheese and also, hidden in a secret compartment, a new radio transmitter (as a replacement for the one they had to throw out). When Michelle has left, Edith calls for Maria and they have to end their little rendezvous.
Edith complains to René that Maria is taking too much time off. Yvette says René is wanted in the backroom and when he and she goes in there, it turns out she is the one who "wants" him there. She also asks him if they will be married after the war and he also assures her that they will. Edith walks into the room and demands an explanation to their standing with their arms around each other. René tells her he is teaching Yvette self-defence against drunk Germans. He then asks Yvette to show Edith what she would do to a drunk German - whereupon she hits him to the floor. After they have calmed down, Edith tells René that colonel Von Strohm is in the café, wanting a word with him.
The four Germans (Kurt, Hans, Hubert and Helga) are sitting at a table in the café and Hubert says he finds the new René (the twin brother) even more charming than the old one. When René comes up to them, the colonel however asks Gruber to leave them alone, as he wants a word in private with René. When Gruber has gone, the colonel informs René of his plan. The next day, Herr Flick will put the real painting on a train to Berlin, where Heinrich Himmler will pick it up to deliver it to Hitler himself. Therefore, René must get his forgery out and switch it for the original before this happens. That very same evening, the café will be closed, in order to let the colonel have is own, private party there. The Germans will celebrate the anniversary of the burning down of the Reichstag. They will have a big "binge", the girls will be dressed up as Hitler Youth (with bare knees) and do "old traditional Bavarian dancing". While Herr Flick is enjoying himself at this party, the paintings in his office will be switched. In order to secure Herr Flick's showing up, Helga will let him know about the party and tell him he is not invited. They are then convinced he will come. The colonel informs René that he is the one who will do the switching. René would rather give the party, but he understands he cannot, since he does not know old traditional Bavarian dancing. Hans and Helga show him how it is done and he understands he will not be able to learn until that same night. Then, the colonel asks Helga to go and inform Herr Flick, which she does with delight.
LeClerc arrives, disguised as a cheese salesman, with the suitcase containing the radio, already connected. He hands over the suitcase to René, who puts it behind the bar. After LeClerc has left, Gruber comes up to the bar, wanting to chat with René, when the radio starts whistling. René tries to fool Gruber it is him who is whistling. However, it becomes more difficult to hide, when random code words start coming from the suitcase, such as "Pierre is enjoying his new bicycle". Gruber thinks it is René, who is uttering these words and asks about the persons mentioned. René has a rather difficult time trying to explain the strange sentences - especially "Listen carefully, I will meet you behind the wood shed at one o'clock!"
Helga goes to Herr Flick and informs him of the party. He announces that the two of them will attend it, uninvited. Helga also notices that Herr Flick has his copy of the painting on his wall. He tells her it is a forgery, whereupon she happens to say "No, Herr Flick, that's the real one" and then realizes what she has said. However, Herr Flick informs her, that it really is a forgery - the real one is rolled up in his high Gestapo boot. He had the forgery made a few weeks ago to be sent to Berlin. He will keep the original himself, to sell after the war when he and Helga will get married. Helga tries to leave, in order to tell the others that the painting in Herr Flick's office is a forgery, but he will not let her go.
When Michelle comes up to Fanny's room, dressed as a nun, Fanny wants to confess her sins to her and prepare to die. However, Michelle does not want to hear her confession, but informs the airmen, who are hidden in a small compartment under the floor, that they will be able to cross the Channel to England by boat that same night. Monsieur LeClerc is sitting in the cupboard and has just finished making their forged papers.
That same night, the Germans are having their celebration in the café, with Gruber sining and playing the piano. Meanwhile, Fanny dresses up to perform some entertainment. Four German girls and Yvette and Maria enter the café, dressed as Hitler Youth, and perform the old traditional Bavarian dancing. Then, Herr Flick and Helga (her also dressed as Hitler Youth) arrive and Helga manages to inform the two officers of the situation with the paintings.
Meanwhile, René and Edith, dressed as German officers (in the two new uniforms made in London), go to Herr Flick's headquarters to exchange the paintings. They pass the sentries by asking the first one what the password is, which he answers. Then, they can pass the second one, by giving him the right password and also find out what the reply is. René is carrying the framed painting in one hand. As they approach Herr Flick's headquarters, they are stopped by another officer, who takes the painting from them, in order to leave it in his headquarters. As they have lost the possibility to switch the paintings, they go home again.
In the café, Fanny performs a song, sung just as badly as Edith usually does. Meanwhile, René and Edith enter through the window of the backroom. They are frightened by Michelle, who is waiting there. She tells them the airmen must leave for the coast tonight and they will be their escort. Michelle and the airmen are also dressed as Hitler Youth, which will be their cover. Yvette and Maria enters the room, informing them that the lorry is ready. The seven of them drive it to the coast, where they gain access to the beach, by once more fooling the sentry about the password. There is a little rowboat on the shore but when the airmen learn that they will not be picked up by a submarine at sea - but are expected to row all the way to England - they refuse and so, after a quick game of leapfrog, they all return to the café.
Hot Air and High Pressure Weather Is the Small Coin of Conversation, You Don't Even Bother to Pick Up When You Drop It
Aug 31, 1999; DOES THE weather really matter? Dr Johnson didn't believe so. He maintained a lifelong antipathy to the idea that the climate...