King of Hearts

Synopsis: During the latter part of World War I, Private Charles Plumpick is chosen to go into the French town of Marville and disconnect a bomb that the German army has planted. However, Charles is chased by some Germans and finds himself holed up at the local insane asylum, where the inmates are convinced that he is the "King of Hearts." Feeling obligated to help the inmates, Charles attempts to lead them out of town, but they are afraid to leave and frolic about the streets in gay costumes. Will Charles be able to deactivate the bomb in time and save his newfound friends?
Genre: Comedy, Drama, War
Director(s): Philippe de Broca
Production: MGM Home Entertainment
Rotten Tomatoes:
102 min



"October 1918.

The War is almost over.

The Germans retreat,

the Allies advance.

A small town in Northern France

awaits its liberation."

- Are the wires set yet?

- Everything's fine.

Hurry up.

Close it.

Hurry up.


It's done, Colonel...

with not a moment to lose.

The enemy is near the river.

Shall I blow up the bridge?

Not yet.

First, we pull out of town.

The munitions?

How much is there?

But there's enough there

to blow up... the whole town.

The blockhouse and the whole town

will blow up...

when the English general

is sitting here...

where I am now.

You have an artistic clock,

Mr. Frenchman.

A very artistic clock!

Artistically the town will blow up.

The clock gives me an idea.

The knight strikes

at midnight, no?

It shall strike

for the last time!

Colonel, my ideology...

Later, Adolf. Later.

The knight strikes

at midnight.

- What is it?

- They're blowing it up!

- The Krauts!

- Blow up?

The town, the bridge,


We must pass the word.

Hurry, there's no time to lose.

Get out! The town

is going to explode!

"The mackerel likes frying.

The mackerel likes frying."

Germans blowing up

munitions dump...

tonight before midnight.

The knight strikes

at midnight!

The knight strikes

at midnight!

For God's sake,

don't enter the town!

SPQ to Mackerel, answer.

- They have cut off.

- Give to me, man.

Come in.


"The mackerel likes frying."

The barber, of course.

The resistance.

"Germans blowing up

the munitions...

before midnight tomorrow.

Don't enter town...

for God's sake.

The knight strikes at midnight.

Impossible to--"

Stop! Halt!

And they have every intention

of blowing the whole thing sky-high.

The town and the bridge.


We don't know,

but sometime before midnight tomorrow.

Now, gentlemen,

that bridge must not go up.

I don't care what it costs,

but we must save it.

Any delay in our advance

at this point...

will throw the whole operation

off schedule.

We simply can't have that.

What do you suggest?

Well, sir, I'd suggest we send in

one of our ordinance chaps.

Time-fuse specialist,

trained infiltrator...

French-speaking, all that.


Who do we have who speaks French?

There's Plumpick, sir.

Ornitholography specialist,

communications platoon, born in France.


Would you ask him to volunteer?

Would you, Captain?

Now, what's the matter, Little Fat?

You look depressed or something.

Are you jealous of Cucumber, there?

Well, listen.

I'm gonna read you something now.

Let me find you something

nice to read.

Here we go, now.

"Now, fair Hippolyta,

our nuptual hour draws on apace.

More happy days

bring in another moon.

But oh, me thinks,

how slow this--"

- Aye, sir.

- Report to the Colonel.

Private Plumpick, sir!

Private Charles Plumpick,

ornitholography specialist...

communications platoon,

headquarters company, reporting, sir.

- Splendid, Pumpernickel.

- Plumpick, sir.

Nickel, splendid.

Good of you to volunteer.

Brave lad.

Stand at ease.


I suppose you can read a map.

Your mission is quite simple.

Get into the town--

- You do speak French?

- Qui, sir.

Make contact with the local spies.

The town barber heads it.

Find the explosives

and disarm the fuse.

- It shouldn't take you long, what?

- No, sir. Yes, sir.

But I wonder, sir,

if you have the right Plumpick, sir.

You see, I'm an

ornitholography specialist, sir.

This calls for a specialist,


- Plumpick, sir.

- Nickel.

You seem to pick your name out of a hat.

How good is your French?

Quite good, sir.

But you see it's the explosives, sir.

I wonder if perhaps one

of the chaps from ordinance...

may not do the job

just a wee bit better, sir.

Send two men in that inferno?

See here, man.

That town can go up at any moment.

You're asking me to risk the life

of two of my troops?

Why, blast it all?

The life of every one

of those men out there...

is dear to me as my own.

The men are aware of that, sir,

and we do appreciate it, sir.

That is leadership, lad.

Yes, sir.

But about the explosives, sir--

That will do, Pumpernickel.

Did you or did you not volunteer?

- Well, as a matter offact, sir--

- Then good. Let's get on with it.

We have no time to lose.

The town can go up at any moment.

Let's not forget that.

I don't think, sir, that I could

forget that if I tried, sir.

Well, let's get cracking, lad.

By the way, the password for your

contact with the barber fellow is...

"The mackerel likes frying."

Say, if you can find it,

what the devil do they mean by...

"The knight strikes

at midnight"?

French are so wordy.

Any questions?

- No, sir.

- Good.

But I wonder, sir,

if you do have the right Plumpick, sir.

You see, about the explosives--

A Scotsman!

Make way for the kings.

Chop, chop off

the woman's head.

- Your turn.

- Mine.

Where am I?

I'm the Duke of Clubs.

Monseigneur Daisy.

I'm the Duke of Clubs.

Monseigneur Daisy.

Come, my friend.

Tell them who you are.

King of Hearts!

- Your Majesty!

- Such an honor!

Let's go...they're all crazy!

Ladies and gentlemen,

the King is back at last!

I've never seen the King!

Long live the King!

Ah! Here it is!

Nice kitty!

Hey! Come on in, boys!

Madame, am I

a suitable husband for you?

And what do you think

of me?

- Are you the barber?

- Obviously.


"The mackerel likes frying."

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Daniel Boulanger

Daniel Boulanger (24 January 1922 – 27 October 2014) was a French novelist, playwright, poet and screenwriter. He has also played secondary roles in films and was a member of the Académie Goncourt from 1983 until his death. He was born in Compiègne, Oise. As an actor in a small role Boulanger is famous as the neighbor of Claude Jade and Jean-Pierre Léaud in François Truffaut's Bed and Board and as a comical gangster in Truffaut's second feature, Shoot the Piano Player.. On 27 October 2014, Boulanger died at the age of 92. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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