Country : France
Medium : Black and white
Duration : 100'
Video : Canal+ Vidéo
Production : Serge Sandberg / Impéria Films / Cinéas
Scenario : Sacha Guitry and Christian-Jaque
Screenplay : Sacha Guitry
Music : Jean Françaix
Director of photography : Jules Kruger
Plot : Three precious stone enthusiasts, a French man (the man of letters, Jean Martin), an Englishman (one of George VI's aides de camp) and an Italian (valet to Pope Pius XI) meet in a tavern where three hundred years earlier three bandits had shared out the pearls which were once set in the crown of Catherine de Medici. On discovering that the whereabouts of the pearls is unknown, our three friends decide to set out in search of the lost treasure.
Cast : Sacha Guitry (Napoleon III / François Ier / Barras / Jean Martin) ; Raymonde Allain (Eugénie in 1865) ; Marguerite Moreno (Eugénie in 1914) ; Huguette Duflos (Queen Hortense) ; Yvette Pienne (Queen Victoria) ; Jean-Louis Barrault (Bonaparte) ; Émile Drain (Napoleon) ; Jacqueline Delubac (Josephine / Françoise) ; Pizani (Talleyrand) ; Raimu (The industrialist from the Midi) ; Ermete Zacconi (Clément VII) ; Lyn Harding (Henri VIII) ; Cécile Sorel (A courtisane) ; Renée Saint-Cyr (Madeleine de La Tour d'Auvergne) ; Simone Renant (Madame du Barry) ; Pauline Carton (A chamber maid) ; Arletty (The queen of Abyssinia) ; René Dalio (The queen's minister) ; Claude Dauphin (The Italian prisoner) ; Engelman (The pearl thief)
Extract : « Napoleon III. - How beautiful she is! It was in this very place on 17 June 1815 that the Emperor bade his adieux to my mother. I was there. I can see myself at that age. He asked queen Hortense about me. He wanted to know whether I was intelligent.
A courtier. - He should never have talked of that.
Napoleon III. - That question will always be asked of me. It will never be answered. The fact remains that he asked my mother one day to give me this pearl which once belonged to the Empress Josephine. »
Review : If you had to have a single reason for watching this film, Sacha Guitry as Napoleon III would be it. Although not particularly historically accurate, this search for pearls provides an opportunity for a bravado display of character acting unparalleled to this day. The startling resemblance of Raymonde Allain to the Empress Eugenie as well as her acting is unforgettable.