France is at war, but you'd never know it from the actions of small-town bad boy Fanfan (Philippe). As the film opens, he's been caught in a compromising position with a young maiden. Her angry father demands a wedding, but fortune-teller Adelina (Lollobrigida) predicts a bigger future for the scamp. Fanfan runs off to join the army with dreams of fame, fortune and marrying a princess. Things don't go exactly as predicted. Fanfan must brave war, the wrath of kings, numerous sword fights, horse chases and more before finding his one true love, in the most unlikely of places.
Christian-Jaque rightly won the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his deft balancing of swashbuckling action, crackling comedy and tender romance. It must have helped to have stars like the dashing Philippe and the luscious Lollobrigida on hand. (She, of course, would go on to bigger if not better things in Hollywood.) With their potent chemistry evident from the outset, these two make such an appealing team that we breathlessly root for them throughout all the twists and turns of this lively adventure. The winning "Fanfan" proves conclusively that like old soldiers, great swashbucklers never die!