Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

King of Hearts (1966)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

King of Hearts (1966, Fr.) (aka Le Roi de Cœur)

In director Philippe De Broca's cult classic sleeper film about the insanity of war - a quirky anti-war fable set at the end of WWI:

  • the character of lone, kilt-wearing, French-speaking, Signal Corps Scottish soldier Private Charles Plumpick (Alan Bates), an ornithologist and poetry-lover, who was dispatched to the small French village of Marville, to defuse a German-placed, booby-trapped bomb in the town square's clock tower before midnight (the bomb was set to detonate when the armored knight figure in the steeple clock struck the midnight gong with a mace) - he was instructed: "Find the explosives and disarm the fuse"
  • the scene of Private Plumpick entering the town, and when spotted by Germans, seeking refuge behind the iron gates of the local "ASILE D'ALIENES" (translated 'Insane Asylum')
  • Private Plumpick masqueraded in the French village as the coronated 'King of Hearts' among the inhabitants - all insane and crackpot asylum inmates who had merrily assumed 'normal' roles in the town for a short while during an emergency evacuation in World War I when the gates of the asylum were left open, and they were free to raid the abandoned shops and adopt festive costumes
  • the King of Hearts' acceptance of a queen and/or consort - the beautiful young coquettish Coquelicot (French Canadian actress Genevieve Bujold), an acrobat and dancer
'King of Hearts' With Coquelicot
(Genevieve Bujold) as His Queen
  • the sequence of the defusing of the bomb just minutes before midnight, and the village's subsequent celebration with fireworks, but the commotion alerted the Germans to return, and there was tremendous carnage when the Scottish and German forces slaughtered each other in the town
Inmates Returning 'Home' to the Asylum After Walking Over Carnage of Bodies Lying in Town's Courtyard
Inmates Voluntarily Locking Themselves Behind Asylum's Iron Gates
  • the sequence of the frightened inmates voluntarily and calmly returning "home" to their asylum; they discarded their colorful costumes and props and locked themselves behind the asylum's iron gates; Plumpick was awarded a special "army citation" for bravery by the liberating French troops
  • the film's final famous shot of a naked Charles who had been reassigned to another mission; he almost immediately deserted his Scottish regiment (and stripped off his uniform) as his truck left town; he was holding a birdcage (with his carrier pigeon) in front of the asylum's iron gates, where he was ready to ring the bell (as two startled asylum nuns approached), to rejoin and be committed with his asylum inmate friends in their world; his romanticized view was that they seemed more sane than the real world of his own military regiment
  • the conclusion, in which the 'King of Hearts' was warmly greeted by his inmate friends and was seen playing cards with them; they congratulated him: ("Well, you're here now. And you won't be running off anymore")
  • the last line was spoken by one of the card-playing inmates who approached an open window and exclaimed: ("The most beautiful journeys are taken through the window")

Pvt. Plumpick - Finding Refuge in the French Town's Insane Asylum

The Liberation of the Inmates

Pvt. Plumpick: Temporarily Coronated as 'King of Hearts' by Asylum Inmates

'King of Hearts' Watched Arrival of Liberating French Troops

Charles' Departure From the Town - He Jumped From Regiment's Truck, and Stood Naked at Asylum Gates For Entry


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