Odinthor, do you enjoy Robert Altman's movies? If so, can you see why Altman once said that "Rules of the Game taught me the rules of the game"?odinthor wrote:La Grande Illusion (1937). Featuring Jean Gabin, Pierre Fresnay, Marcel Dalio, Erich von Stroheim, and Dita Parlo. Acclaimed film which I viewed for the first time with high expectations, and which to my surprise gets a resounding “meh” from me, followed by a well-executed Gallic shrug. I suspect that aspects of it appeal to native French in a way that doesn’t come across tellingly to foreign-borns (which is a frustrating thought as I am a longtime Francophile!); and yet reviewers of all nations are found to be enthusiastic. An IMDB reviewer promises that one’s estimation of it will increase upon repeated viewings. Perhaps! One problem may be that the show’s attitude and way of going about things was fresh and striking for 1937, but then inspired others to deploy the same strategies and tactics more effectively in later movies. Jean Gabin walks his way through the proceedings in a way which some might read as manly restraint, others as opaque and unempathetic. Pierre Fresnay inhabits his role gratifyingly; but the writing leaves him with actions which are out of proportion to any motivations presented. Erich von Stroheim brings a doubly unexpected gentleness to his role, and in my estimation comes off best here. The screenplay shows good ideas carried out with varying amounts of skill, as if sometimes the writers lost interest in properly developing a thread of the plot. Camera work is competent without being memorable. For an anti-war film, go to All Quiet on the Western Front; for a P.O.W. film, hie thee to The Great Escape (a show which doubtless owes much to this film). My estimation of La Grande Illusion may increase upon repeated viewings; but alas I do not think there will be repeated viewings.