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Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics What's this?

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8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 10 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Jan Dít? is short in height, but high in ambition. To put it bluntly, the young provincial waiter wants to become a millionaire. And he knows just how to do it: by hearing everything, seeing everything, and creating opportunities at every turn. Armed with this knowledge and an irrepressibleJan Dít? is short in height, but high in ambition. To put it bluntly, the young provincial waiter wants to become a millionaire. And he knows just how to do it: by hearing everything, seeing everything, and creating opportunities at every turn. Armed with this knowledge and an irrepressible wish to please, he soon leaves his first place of employment, a pub, for a luxury brothel and, finally moving onto an elegant Art Nouveau Prague restaurant. But by the late 1930s, things are changing: Hitler has taken the Sudetenland region and is breaking apart Czechoslovakia. Jan falls in love with Líza, a Sudeten German proud of her Aryan blood. They marry, and soon after Líza is sent to serve on the Polish front, while Jan remains behind to serve as a nurse in
    a Nazi SS Research Hospital, but when she returns, she has a fortune in rare stamps that Jews had ‘left behind’ ... After Líza’s less than heroic death, Jan sells
    the stamps and becomes ... a millionaire. But he only has three years to enjoy his fortune: the new Communist regime puts him behind bars for 15 years, one for each of his millions... Upon his release from jail, Jan is sent to live in a decrepit border town. Here Jan reflects on the events that have shaped his life – and to reflect on what might have happened if he had played a different role in these events. (Sony Classics)
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. It's a giddy nightmare. Nothing is quite what it seems in I Served the King of England, and this is poetically appropriate. The world it depicts is too dangerous and too lovely to classify.
  2. Reviewed by: Aaron Hillis
    90
    A mischievously hedonistic, Chaplinesque farce, the film buoyantly but seriously traverses the horrors of World War II with a subtlety and sophistication that most American comedies cannot grasp.
  3. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    80
    A virtual primer on the unique mixture of self-deprecating dark humor and personal tragedy that has been the Czech cinema's stock-in-trade since their celebrated 1960s New Wave.
  4. 75
    It's a film filled with wicked satire and sex both joyful and pitiful.
  5. Menzel’s touch is sprightly, lyrical, mischievously understated.
  6. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    70
    May not be a totally riveting movie, but it is, in its gently insinuating way, a curiously rewarding one.
  7. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    40
    I Served the King of England, like its hero, is surrounded by and infused with the potential for meaning but feels like a lark: a bit of nothing whistling past the graveyard of 20th century European history without a thing to do but indulge itself.

See all 26 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. BenY.
    Mar 1, 2009
    10
    Genius!
  2. JayW.
    Sep 14, 2008
    10
    A remarkable Czech film with a superlative cast. Not to be missed!
  3. MikeJ.
    Nov 1, 2008
    10
    Simply wonderful! A great story in a wonderful presentation. Too bad Hollywood can't understand this.
  4. PeterK.
    Mar 9, 2009
    9
    Chaplin in Forest Gump of east Europe in the first half of the 20th century: we are first-hand eye witnesses to many historical event. The Chaplin in Forest Gump of east Europe in the first half of the 20th century: we are first-hand eye witnesses to many historical event. The actor playing the main character has whimsy, charm and warmth so we forgive him his many sins.... Expand
  5. bardotB.
    Feb 21, 2009
    6
    I really loved the costumes in this move. I am an actress and I am in a musical. I took a photo of this costume and had the exact one made at I really loved the costumes in this move. I am an actress and I am in a musical. I took a photo of this costume and had the exact one made at a local cotume shop. Bruna Costumes makes costume reproductions and they are awesome. That's the only reason I went to see this movie but I thought the acting was great and the story was different. Expand
  6. JakubP.
    Jul 18, 2009
    6
    Surprises me how well the movie has been received internationally. Ji?í Menzel at his worst. What a pity his other movies he did from Surprises me how well the movie has been received internationally. Ji?í Menzel at his worst. What a pity his other movies he did from the late sixties to the end of the eighties are probably not so known except of the "Trains". Hrabal and Menzel has always been a guarantee for a great movie. This one is not. But Mezel has all my respect for what he´s done during his lifetime. Expand

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