09 May 2010

René Poyen

René Poyen (1908-1968) was a talented child star of the silent French cinema. He started at the age of four as the popular character Bout-de-Zan (Tiny Tim) in a popular series based on the adventures of little urchins in cute hats. Most of these burlesque comedies were filmed by Louis Feuillade for the Gaumont company.

René Poyen
French postcard by Cinémagazine, nr. 172. Photo: Ajax.

Rascal Kid Actor
René Poyen was born in Paris in 1908. He started in 1912 at Gaumont as Bout-de-Zan, the younger brother of rascal kid actor Bébé (René Dary), in the film comedy Bébé adopte un petit frère/Baby takes a little brother (1912, Louis Feuillade). Quite soon he replaced Dary and his character, becoming the child star of Gaumont in the subsequent years. Bout-de-Zan was a kid always distinctively dressed as an adult, who appeared in a string of short comedies. Already in 1913 Poyen made 24 onereelers with his popular mischievous alter ego; 16 in 1914; and 18 in 1915. That year he also played a small role in Louis Feuillade's famous crime serial Les Vampires/The Vampires (1915) starring Musidora as the mysterious Irma Vep, dressed in a black tight. In 1917 he played 'The Licorice Kid' in another popular Feuillade serial Judex, featuring René Cresté as a caped superhero. He also appeared in the crime parody Le pied qui étreint (1917, Jacques Feyder), and a handful of Bout-de-Zan shorts. By then the era of the short Bout-de-Zan comedies was over, but Poyen continued to play in crime serials like La nouvelle mission de Judex (1917, Louis Feuillade). Source: tonytony92 (YouTube).

Bout de Zan vole un éléphant/Tiny Tim Steals an Elephant (1913, Louis Feuillade). A very funny scene shows the elephant panhandling and picking pockets.

René Poyen appeared in the serial Les deux gamines/The Two Girls (1920, Louis Feuillade), and the series films L'orphelin de Paris/The Orphan of Paris (1924). He also performed in the features La proie (1921, Marcel Dumont), La fille bien gardée (1923/1924, Louis Feuillade), Le gamin de Paris/Paris Urchin (1923, Louis Feuillade), La gosseline (1923, Louis Feuillade), Lucette (1924, Louis Feuillade, Maurice Champreux), Pierrot, Pierrette (1924, Louis Feuillade), Romanetti/Le roi du maquis (1924, Gennaro Dini), and Les murailles du silence (1925, Louis de Carbonnat). In the early 1920's he was often paired with girl actress Bouboule, as in Le gamin de Paris, La gosseline, Pierrot, Pierrette, and Lucette. In the sound era Poyen returned only twice more in films, in an uncredited role in Clochard/Tramp (1932, Robert Péguy) and a last time as Bout-de-Zan in the comedy Le Bidon d'or/The Golden Canister (1932, Christian Jaque). René Poyen died in his hometown Paris in 1968.

Sources: Turner Classic Movies, IMDb, The Bioscope and Wikipedia (French).

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