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Musique et parole : An introduction to First Empire music
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CINEMA

 1940-1960

  •  MADAME SANS-GENE, by Roger Richebé - 1941

 

 Country : France

 Medium : Black and white

 Duration : 100'

 Video : René Chateau Vidéo - 1989

 Production : Société des Films Roger Richebé

 Scenario : Jean Aurenche

 Screenplay : Pierre Lestringuez (after Victorien Sardou and Emile Moreau)

 Music : Vincent Scotto (Musical direction: Jacques Metehen)

 Director of photography : Jean Isnard assisted by Charles Suin (Director's assistant: Jean Feyter)

 Plot : Joseph Fouché, the most pragmatic of the revolutionaries, decides to escape the combat which is turning Paris into a blood bath. Before leaving the capital, he goes, however, to live with the washerwoman of the rue Sainte-Anne. In the end however the battle goes in his favour. Catherine predicts to her guest that she will become a Duchess when he is made Minister...

 Cast : Albert Dieudonné (Napoleon) ; Arletty (Catherine) ; Aimé Clariond (Fouché) ; Henri Nassiet (Lefebvre) ; Jeanne Reinhart (Caroline Bonaparte) ; Madeleine Sylvain (Élisa Bonaparte) ; Maurice Escande (Neipperg) ; Geneviève Auger (Marie-Louise) ; Mona Dol (Madame de Bulow) ; Paul Amiot (Robespierre) ; Alain Cuny (Roustam)

 Extract : « Élisa. - Because at that time you were... ?
Catherine. - ... a washer woman, yes, Princess, I won't hide it ! I speak the language of the people because I am one of the people, and there are lots like me! Masséna sold oil, Bessières made wigs, Ney was a barrel maker, Lannes was a dyer, and good old Murat was a valet in his father's inn ! »

 Review : With Arletty as Madame Sans-Gêne and Albert Dieudonné as Napoleon, the scenes immediately take on another dimension. Very fine cinema. Indeed it's the most interesting film on Napoleon made during the occupation. And the best Fouché ever. Of interest is the brief cameo by Alain Cuny as Roustam. Decrais's costumes are good and they form an excellent counterpoint to this excellent adaptation of Sardou and Moreau's text. And despite the fact that the screenplay by Aurenche - the author of the famous "Atmosphère, Atmosphère" line in Hôtel du Nord - has not really stood the test of time, nevertheless the voice of Arletty makes everything work. And Napoleon's quarrels with his sisters are beautifully played.

 

 
 
 

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