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Set against the Allied invasion of North Africa in 1942, this overly-ambitious, comedy-drama focuses on the relationship between its two central characters, Leon Castelli (Roger Hanin) a half-Algerian, half-French bartender, talkative, but with a generous soul, and Etienne Labrouche (Philippe Noiret) the French colonial mayor of the town. Leon gets propositioned on a business deal by an American soldier and joins him in setting up an "underground" night spot in an abandoned airplane hangar that soon catches on and thrives like weeds in a garden. Etienne, in the meantime, starts an affair with the governess of his children and is caught out by his wife, who sends the woman packing. Since the ex-governess needs to support herself somehow, she accepts a waitress job working in the underground nightclub. The word gets out, and before much time has gone by, the nightclub is trashed by a hired gang. Furious at Etienne because he feels this is the mayor's way of paying him back for hiring the governess, Leon picks up a shotgun and goes to Etienne's estate seeking revenge. But fate has other ideas, and when he arrives, Leon discovers that Etienne's father has just died and left a bombshell of a revelation about his parentage that changes everything.