START THE REVOLUTION WITHOUT ME(director: Bud Yorkin; screenwriters: Fred Freeman/Lawrence Cohen/from the story Two Times Two by Fred Freeman; cinematographer: Jean Tournier; editor: Ferris Webster; music: John Addison; cast: Orson Welles (Narrator), Gene Wilder (Claude Coupé/Philippe Di Sisi ), Donald Sutherland (Charles Coupé/Pierre Di Sisi), Victor Spinetti (Duke d’Escargot ), Jack MacGowran (Jacques Cabriolet ), Ewa Aulin (Princess Christina of Belgium), Helen Fraser (Mimi Montage), Billie Whitelaw (Marie Antoinette), Hugh Griffith (Louis XVI), Murray Melvin (Blind man), Graham Stark (Coupé father), Maxwell Shaw (Comte Di Sisi); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Norman Lear/Bud Yorkin; Warner Bros.; 1970)
“The film flopped at the box office, but years later scored as a cult hit on video when Wilder’s popularity grew.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Bud Yorkin (“Come Blow Your Horn”/”Never Too Late”) directs this frenetic mistaken identity slapstick spoof historical comedy, that makes a mockery of the French Revolution. It would have been a perfect vehicle for the lightweight comedy of Abbott and Costello, but seems underwhelming for the talents of the hammy newcomer stars Gene Wilder and Don Sutherland. Writers Lawrence Cohen and Fred Freeman base it on the story Two Times Two by Freeman.Thirty years before the French Revolution of 1789, a bumbling village doctor mixes up the two sets of twins he delivers. He gives the Coupe peasant family one of the noble boys and the noble family of the Corsican Duke Di Sisi (Maxwell Shaw) get one of the peasant boys. When the revolution begins thirty years later, the twins are on opposing sides.The Di Sisi brothers, Philippe and Pierre, have become renown for their swordplay as the Corsican brothers. When the incompetent King Louis XVI (Hugh Griffith) begins to fear betrayal in the palace and that the revolution will end his reign, he asks for help from the Corsican brothers as he sends a note to them to assassinate the Duke d’Escargot (Victor Spinetti). But the note is intercepted by the untrustworthy Duke d’Escargot. He is allied with the unfaithful Queen Marie Antoinette (Billie Whitelaw), his lover. The Duke thereby invites the Di Sisis to join him in overthrowing the king, and they tentatively accept when offered half of France. The Di Sisis boys enter Paris disguised on a barge as peasants, while the peasant Coupe boys, Claude and Charles, have joined Jacques Cabriolet’s (Jack MacGowran) revolutionary mob who attack the barge. The swordsmen are mistaken for the Coupes, while the peasant brothers are mistaken for the aristocrats and brought to the palace. The comedy is derived from the on-going mix up, with slight amusement eventually giving way to weariness. The film flopped at the box office, but years later scored as a cult hit on video when Wilder’s popularity grew. Orson Welles is the film’s semi-serious narrator.
REVIEWED ON 9/31/2016 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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