An ebullient, bawdy romp set in Napoleonic times that features the sultry Loren as the outspoken laundress who washed the Little Corporal's shirts in 1792. She falls in love with Hossein, a sergeant, who has a cannon placed in her shop. There's a revolution on the horizon and she wants to
join her lover at the front, but he assures her the war will be over soon and he'll return to claim her. Time passes slowly during the war and four years go by. Hossein and Loren meet only once, in order to marry, and when she applies for a pass to the front from Napoleon (Bertheau), he doesn't
recall her and sends her away. Loren jumps aboard a wagon full of "professional" women and locates her husband, now promoted on the battlefield to captain. They try to find a quiet place to celebrate their reunion but are soon caught and captured by the enemy Austrian troops. In their escape, they
explode the Austrian ammo dump, and when they return to French lines, Bertheau makes Hossein a full colonel for his bravery. Loren and Hossein fight side by side in the war and she is decorated for her efforts. When Bertheau becomes Emperor, he dubs Hossein and Loren as the Duke and Duchess of
Danzig, then considers elevating them again to King and Queen of Westphalia after Loren makes her court debut. Bertheau's sisters find Loren's manners unspeakable and prevail on him to not do as he planned. Bertheau is under their influence, so he asks Hossein to shed Loren and wed a princess
because the spectre of Loren as a queen would make the emperor look like a fool. Loren is livid, rushes into her leader's private quarters and reminds him of the days when he was a lowly soldier and could not afford to pay to keep his linen clean. Bertheau is taken by her logic and decides to
allow her and Hossein to stay together; he will find someone else to be the rulers of Westphalia.
Filmed on location in Spain and Italy, it's a light confection that falls pleasantly on the eyes and ears and is unmemorable moments later. The French title, MADAME SANS-GENE, means "free and easy" or "flippant" depending on which Berlitz teacher you ask. Lots of fun, MADAME had Peter Sellers
tapped to play Napoleon and Gina Lollobrigida as Madame. The former would have been an asset, the latter a liability. Period comedies, unless they are satires, are not easy to make happen. This worked only partially, but did have its share of amusement.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: An ebullient, bawdy romp set in Napoleonic times that features the sultry Loren as the outspoken laundress who washed the Little Corporal's shirts in 1792. She falls in love with Hossein, a sergeant, who has a cannon placed in her shop. There's a revolutio… (more)