One of our friends lives across the street from a bar we used to go to when we lived in Troyes. Everytime we went to the bar as a group, everyone (except me, obviously, because I had no idea what was going on) would pound on Friend's windows and yell out "Jambier!!" at the top of their lungs. Everybody had a big laugh over this happening every single time we passed this guy's house, and whenever I asked for an explanation, all I heard was, "Oh, it's from an old movie, I can't explain it, you've just got to see it." Pfft.
Finally, two years later, we came across the famous movie at Fnac (Fnac Fnac!) bundled with two other movies for the low, low price of 15 euros, so we bought it and settled down the other night to watch La Traversée de Paris.
Unfortunately, for the low, low price of 15 euros, you don't get subtitles in English or otherwise*, but I was basically able to follow the story of taxi driver-turned-black market operative and the painter he enlists to help him carry four suitcases of meat across wartime Paris. As far as films go, it's not the best French movie I've seen, but it certainly wasn't the worst either. I think it does a good job of expressing the fear, the frustration and the inventiveness the Parisians experienced during the war (which I'm sure was still fresh in the filmmakers' minds since this was made only ten years after the war) and there are a few poignant moments as well as a few laughs to be had. I would certainly recommend it, provided you're fluent in French or subtitles are available. (Tangent: it must be a hallmark of films made in this era, because when I think of American films from this time, there are plenty of fast-talking actors who spit lines out of the sides of their mouths that would be impossible to follow if you're not fluent in English - hell, there are some that I can't even follow!)
So why is crying "Jambier!!" outside of innocent peoples' homes so funny? I'm afraid I have to tell you the same thing that was told to me - you'll have to watch the movie!
*I actually can follow a movie with French subtitles. In fact, we often watch a French tv show called Maigret which comes on about every other Friday evening. This one's a mystery show set in the '50s and based on the books of Georges Simenon. Thanks to closed captioning for the hearing impared, I know exactly what's going on!
PS In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I thought they were yelling "Janvier," which is French for January, and it wasn't until I saw the listing on IMDB that I figured out my mistake.
PPS This doesn't have anything to do with anything, but I really got a kick out of listening to Katia and KylieMac's Thanksgiving podcast yesterday. Thanks for the shout out ladies; I was thinking of you, too! Have you listened to the podcast yet? Make sure you check it out here!