Country : France
Medium : Black and white
Duration : 115'
Video : Éditions Montparnasse - 1991
Production : Société des Films Roger Richebé
Scenario : Marcel Pagnol
Screenplay : Marcel Pagnol (after Georges d'Esparbès)
Music : Vincent Scotto
Director of photography : André Dantan assisted by Coutelen
Plot : A year after the death of Napoleon, under the Restoration, a group of the officers who had been reduced to half pay, the famous Demi-Solde, plots in favour of the accession to the French throne of Napoleon's son, the King of Rome. They stir the population to rise up against Louis XVIII's regime by organising riots. Unfortunately, one of their number kills a monarchist in a duel. The lover of the monarchist then denounces all the conspirators, wishing to revenge the honour of the one she loved.
Cast : Pierre Renoir (Colonel de Montander) ; Annie Ducaux (Lise Dorian) ; Constant Rémy (Capitaine Doguereau) ; Marcel André (The Prefect of police) ; Jean Debucourt (Lieutenant de Breuilly) ; Gustave Berthier (The President of the Tribunal) ; Prieur (General Grandaye de la Breutenière) ; Argentin (Minister de Villèle) ; Balpetré (Commandant Thierry) ; Marc Valbel (Lieutenant Triaire) ; Philippe Rolla (Lieutenant Huguenin) ; Romain Bouquet (The lawyer) ; Courtois (Goglu)
Extract : « General Grandaye. - I have come to talk to these men. I have marched the roads of Europe shoulder to shoulder with them for the last fifteen years. I know them well. There's one word in the accusation which is absurd, worse still it's intolerable. That word is "treason". In 1815, these officers refused to remain in the army. They refused to swear allegiance to the new flag. Whilst they may have attacked the regime, you could not say that they betrayed it. They also stand accused of crimes against their homeland. That is a lie. Politics is one thing. Homeland is another. There are no crimes in politics, there are only mistakes. We know their mistake. They supported the weaker side. Is this why they are being punished? Take care that, in bringing low these men, you do not also bring low some of the greatest human virtues: loyalty, generosity, and courage. And indeed the noblest of all these virtues: loyalty in time of trouble. It is not that I am defending these men. It is that I am defending the honour of our country. »
Review : An excellent historical film on the theme of the Demi-Solde officers, largely due to the remarkable scenario and screenplay by Marcel Pagnol. Pierre Renoir and Constant Rémy give marvellous performances, whilst the style of their fellow actors is still largely that of the silent cinema. The costumes are noteworthy for their sobriety. Particularly memorable is the reconstitution, at the beginning of the film, of the death of Napoleon on St Helena.