Me and the Colonel (1958)

108-110 mins | Comedy-drama | October 1958

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HISTORY

The working titles of the film were Jacobowsky and the Colonel and Best of Enemies . Onscreen credits include the following written acknowledgment: "The Rolls-Royce owned by Mr. George Power was used by arrangement with the Montagu Motor Museum." According to a May 1944 LAEx news item, Columbia vied with Warner Bros. for the film rights to Franz Werfel's play. In Jul 1956, a HR news item stated that Gottfried Reinhardt was to produce and direct the film. An Oct 1957 DV news item adds that Leslie Caron was considered for the female lead, and that the film was to be shot in England. Although a Jan 1958 HR news item notes that nightclub impressionist Billy Batchelor was to play the role of a Frenchman, his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       As noted in HR production charts, location filming was done in France in Dec 1957, after which the production moved to the Columbia Studio in Los Angeles. Studio publicity materials in the film's production file at AMPAS note that five days of location shooting took place in Lyons, France. Some critics disapproved of the marriage of anti-Semitism and comedy featured in the film. In an Aug 1958 NYT article, film critic Bosley Crowther asked "What's amusing about watching a patient Jew in a desperate and outrageously insensate negotiation for his life with a ... More Less

The working titles of the film were Jacobowsky and the Colonel and Best of Enemies . Onscreen credits include the following written acknowledgment: "The Rolls-Royce owned by Mr. George Power was used by arrangement with the Montagu Motor Museum." According to a May 1944 LAEx news item, Columbia vied with Warner Bros. for the film rights to Franz Werfel's play. In Jul 1956, a HR news item stated that Gottfried Reinhardt was to produce and direct the film. An Oct 1957 DV news item adds that Leslie Caron was considered for the female lead, and that the film was to be shot in England. Although a Jan 1958 HR news item notes that nightclub impressionist Billy Batchelor was to play the role of a Frenchman, his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       As noted in HR production charts, location filming was done in France in Dec 1957, after which the production moved to the Columbia Studio in Los Angeles. Studio publicity materials in the film's production file at AMPAS note that five days of location shooting took place in Lyons, France. Some critics disapproved of the marriage of anti-Semitism and comedy featured in the film. In an Aug 1958 NYT article, film critic Bosley Crowther asked "What's amusing about watching a patient Jew in a desperate and outrageously insensate negotiation for his life with a fool?" More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Sep 58
pp. 552-53, 576-77.
Box Office
11 Aug 1958.
---
Daily Variety
21 Oct 1957.
---
Daily Variety
6 Aug 58
p. 3.
Film Daily
6 Aug 58
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jul 1956
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jan 1958
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 1958.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 1958
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 58
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
1 May 1944.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Oct 1958.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Aug 58
p. 936.
New York Times
27 Aug 58
p. 33.
New York Times
31 Aug 1958.
---
Variety
6 Aug 58
p. 7.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A William Goetz Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus comp
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Jacobowsky and the Colonel by Franz Werfel, American version by S. N. Behrman, produced upon the stage by The Theatre Guild in association with Jack Skirball (New York, 19 Mar 1944).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Jacobowsky and the Colonel
Best of Enemies
Release Date:
October 1958
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 26 August 1958
Production Date:
18 November 1957--30 January 1958
Copyright Claimant:
Goetz Pictures, Inc. & Court Enterprises, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 October 1958
Copyright Number:
LP12286
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
108-110
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18910
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1940, as German troops near the outskirts of Paris, Samuel L. Jacobowsky, a Polish Jew who has been fleeing the Germans since their conquest of Poland, plans his next escape. As the resourceful Jacobowsky contemplates how to reach the Spanish border, Dr. Szicki of the Polish Embassy arrives at the hotel in which Jacobowsky is staying to confer with Col. Prokoszny, another guest at the hotel. When Szicki gives the Polish colonel a coded message to deliver to the Polish Embassy in London, the blustery, pompous colonel eagerly embraces his chance to “get into the war.” After the taxi hired to drive the colonel to St. Jean de Luz on the Spanish border, where he is to rendezvous with a London-bound submarine, is damaged in a collision, the colonel orders his aide Szabuniewicz to find him another vehicle. At the hotel café, Jacobowsky, who lived in the small Polish village in which the colonel’s family were the reigning aristocrats, tries to enlist the colonel in a scheme to requisition an automobile, but the officer rejects his proposal. When Jacobowsky purchases one of the few remaining automobiles in Paris, a Rolls Royce owned by the Baron Rothschild, the anti-Semitic colonel refuses to ride with him and confiscates the car for himself. Jacobowsky has shrewdly emptied the gas tank however, and makes a bargain with the colonel to provide gas in exchange for safe passage to the border. When the colonel turns north instead of south, and heads toward the German-occupied city of Reims, Jacobowsky becomes alarmed but the colonel insists on continuing onto Reims to pick up his fiancée, Suzanne Roualet, ... +


In 1940, as German troops near the outskirts of Paris, Samuel L. Jacobowsky, a Polish Jew who has been fleeing the Germans since their conquest of Poland, plans his next escape. As the resourceful Jacobowsky contemplates how to reach the Spanish border, Dr. Szicki of the Polish Embassy arrives at the hotel in which Jacobowsky is staying to confer with Col. Prokoszny, another guest at the hotel. When Szicki gives the Polish colonel a coded message to deliver to the Polish Embassy in London, the blustery, pompous colonel eagerly embraces his chance to “get into the war.” After the taxi hired to drive the colonel to St. Jean de Luz on the Spanish border, where he is to rendezvous with a London-bound submarine, is damaged in a collision, the colonel orders his aide Szabuniewicz to find him another vehicle. At the hotel café, Jacobowsky, who lived in the small Polish village in which the colonel’s family were the reigning aristocrats, tries to enlist the colonel in a scheme to requisition an automobile, but the officer rejects his proposal. When Jacobowsky purchases one of the few remaining automobiles in Paris, a Rolls Royce owned by the Baron Rothschild, the anti-Semitic colonel refuses to ride with him and confiscates the car for himself. Jacobowsky has shrewdly emptied the gas tank however, and makes a bargain with the colonel to provide gas in exchange for safe passage to the border. When the colonel turns north instead of south, and heads toward the German-occupied city of Reims, Jacobowsky becomes alarmed but the colonel insists on continuing onto Reims to pick up his fiancée, Suzanne Roualet, before leaving the country. Meanwhile, a German officer, Maj. von Bergen, arrives at the restaurant Suzanne owns in Reims and makes lewd suggestions to her, but his crude overtures are interrupted when he is summoned to headquarters. Soon after, the colonel, Jacobowsky and Szabuniewicz arrive at the restaurant, and when the colonel begins to serenade Suzanne, she runs out the door and into his arms. As Suzanne and the colonel retire to her boudoir, Jacobowsky makes a deal with some French soldiers to trade the colonel’s stash of vodka for gasoline. Later, with their gas tank now full, the four fugitives head for the South of France. As they pass columns of fleeing refugees, a French officer warns them that Paris has fallen and the Germans are looking for the colonel. When Jacobowsky suggests that the colonel exchange his uniform for civilian garb, the officer adamantly refuses. Now hungry and nearly out of gas, they camp in a market-place with the other refugees. The ever-resourceful Jacobowsky then goes to the town’s castle, and upon learning that the caretaker is a monarchist, convinces the man that the colonel is the Pretender to the Throne and is to be crowned King of France. When the caretaker invites them to stay and gives them a royal welcome, Suzanne praises Jacobowsky’s ingenuity, thus arousing the colonel’s jealousy. After Suzanne and the colonel argue over Jacobowsky’s virtues, the colonel grabs some bottles of wine and storms out of the room. Suzanne then flirts with Jacobowsk and realizes that he has fallen in love with her and coaxes him to dance. The colonel, now drunk, bursts into the room, and seeing them dancing, challenges Jacobowsky to a duel. Jacobowsky rashly picks up a sword and declares his love for Suzanne, causing the colonel to chase him into the cellar. The colonel calms down, however, when Jacobowsky finds a cask of rare brandy and offers his adversary a drink. As the colonel drunkenly caterwauls, German soldiers arrive to commandeer the castle. Jacobowsky, Suzanne and Szabuniewicz lead the drunken colonel up the stairs and, after dressing him in civilian clothes, escape out the back door and head for St. Jean de Luz. When the colonel, hung over and in shock from being stripped of his uniform, drives the car into a German tank, the four are taken to headquarters for questioning. There, Suzanne is greeted by von Bergen, who asks them if they know Prokoszny. To protect the colonel’s identity, Jacobowsky lies that his male travel companions are Polish relatives. When Suzanne appeals to the major to help them reach the border, he releases them. Sensing that the colonel has been deeply humiliated by the turn of events, Jacobowsky decides that the time has come to leave the group. While hitchhiking along the roadside, Jacobowsky is picked up by a carload of nuns who drive him to St. Jean de Luz. As Jacobowsky approaches the border crossing, his passport is confiscated and he is arrested by the Germans. At headquarters, a German officer questions Jacobowsky about the colonel’s destination. When Jacobowsky refuses to cooperate, the officer releases him and threatens to have him tortured at eight p.m. that night unless he comes forward with the information. Meanwhile, the colonel arrives at St. Jean de Luz and learns from his contact that Jacobowsky has been arrested. Although the contact implies that Jacobowsky has betrayed him, the colonel senses that Jacobowsky is in danger and goes to his aid. As the hour nears eight, Jacobowsky sits in the town square, contemplating suicide. Just as he is about to swallow a capsule of poison, the colonel drives up in his Rolls Royce and embraces him as a “comrade-in-arms.” When Jacobowsky begs the colonel to leave, the colonel assures him that Suzanne is in possession of the documents and will complete his mission. Knowing that the Germans are watching them, the colonel begins guzzling brandy and instructs Jacobowsky to devise an escape strategy. After some thought, Jacobowsky tells the colonel to drive to the convent. The Germans follow and watch as the Rolls Royce pulls into the convent gates and, moments later, drives out. When the Germans stop the Rolls they discover it is being driven by the Mother Superior. Meanwhile, Jacobowsky and the colonel peddle a bicycle to their rendezvous with the submarine. When the colonel arrives, the sub captain informs him that he has room for only two passengers. After Suzanne insists on staying behind, the colonel orders Szabuniewicz to take care of her and promises to return one day. Once Jacobowsky and the colonel are on board the submarine, the colonel panics, thinking that he left the papers behind. Jacobowsky smiles and gives him the envelope entrusted to him by Suzanne. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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