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  •  VIOLETTES IMPERIALES (Imperial Violets), by Richard Pottier - 1953


 Country : France / Spain

 Medium : Gévacouleur

 Duration : 93'

 Video : Film Office

 Production : Émile Natan

 Scenario : Henry Roussell

 Screenplay : Marc-Gilbert Sauvajon

 Music : Francis Lopez

 Director of photography : Christian Matras

 Plot : Juan de Ayala, the cousin of the countess Eugénie de Montijo (future Empress Eugénie), reutnrs from Paris and tells of how "women can be turned into queens provided that nature has bestowed upon them beauty and wit". Now the young countess, who had finally decided to go on a journey far away from Grenada, plans to visit France with her mother. She dreams of going to a ball given by the prince Bonaparte, the future Emperor Napoleon III. She has the idea that her young familial advisor, Prosper Merimée; should act as their guide. The meeting with Merimée and the gypsy confirms her destiny.

 Cast : Louis Arbessier (Napoleon III) ; Simone Valère (Eugénie) ; Colette Régis (Madame de Montijo) ; Raymond-Girard (Mérimée) ; Luis Mariano (Juan de Ayala) ; Carmen Sevilla (Violetta Cortès) ; Marie Sabouret (Madame de Pierrefeu) ; Micheline Francey (Clotilde) ; Vera Norman (Mirette)

 Extract : « Mérimée. - I am quite curious, you see. I would hate to miss the event of the century. Something is brewing.
Madame de Montijo. - In France ? Come now. It is a republic. The only thing that can happen in a republic is that it gets overturned.
Mérimée. - Our prince-president is preparing a coup d'état.
Eugénie. - The Prince Napoleon ? But he is so gentle...
Mérimée. - He is a Bonaparte. The men in that family all have an eagle slumbering within. Unless I am very much mistaken, this one will have himself crowned Emperor before too long. »

 Review : Emile Natan produced this remake of Violettes impériales in honour of the centenary of Napoleon III's accession to the throne. Whilst its qualities are legion (most notably Francis Lopez's music and Léon Barsacq's scenery, especially his recontruction of the Tuileries Palace), Richard Pottier's direction is however too slack. But that being said the film is fundamentally a cinematic operetta with Simone Valère as a wonderfully beautiful Eugénie, Louis Arbessier as an interesting (but too sparingly used) Napoleon III, Raymond-Girard as an excellent Merimée and the mysterious Carmen Sevilla. And Luis Mariano's presence alone made this Franco-Spanish production one of the box-office hits of 1953. Those were the days when love was simply "a bouquet of violets".



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