The eponymous French corporal, played by Jean-Pierre Cassel, is ensconced in a German POW camp. Cassel plots with his friends Claude Brasseur and Claude Rich to escape, but all three are recaptured. When the corporal plans another getaway, he finds that one of his chums isn't interested anymore. After a brief liaison with the daughter of a German dentist, Cassel once more tries to break out...and once more...and once more. Finally free from his captors, Cassel joins the resistance with his loyal pal Brasseur. The Elusive Corporal was a return to the themes of freedom and personal dignity inherent in Jean Renoir's earlier La Grande Illusion (1938); alas, Renoir had very little control over the final cut of the later film, and tended to dismiss the whole project as a mere "entertainment" in his declining years, though he remained proud of his closing panorama shot of Paris, which wordlessly expressed the euphoria of freedom.
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