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27 June 2013

Sylvie

Sylvie (1883–1970) was a French actress, who played in French and Italian films from 1912 till 1965. After decades of appearing in supporting parts, she finally played the leading role again in her last film.

Sylvie
French postcard by S.I.P. Sent by mail in 1906. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris.

Sylvie
French postcard by Photo N.D., no. 57. Dated 1-11-1909. Photo: H. Manuel.

Sylvie
French postcard. by S.I.P., no. 1282. Photo: Reutlinger, Paris.

Pathé
Sylvie (sometimes Sylvie Louise) was born Louise Pauline Mainguené in Paris, France in 1883. From 1903, she acted on stage. She made her film debut in the silent Pathé short Britannicus/Nero and Britannicus (Camille de Morlhon, 1912) with Romuald Joubé. The following year she also appeared in a feature Pathé production, Germinal (1913), based on the novel by Émile Zola. She reunited with Romuald Joubé for Le coupable/The culprit (André Antoine, 1917). During the silent era, she also appeared in Roger la Honte/Roger the Menace (Jacques de Baronceli, 1924) with Rita Jolivet and Gabriel Signoret. By the 1930s she had become a highly regarded character player, and appeared in classic films like Crime et châtiment/Crime and Punishment (Pierre Chenal, 1935) starring Harry Baur and Pierre Blanchar, Un carnet de bal/Dance Program (Julien Duvivier, 1937) with Marie Bell, the crime drama Entrée des artistes/The Curtain Rises (Marc Allégret, 1938) starring Louis Jouvet, and La fin du jour/The End of the Day (Julien Duvivier, 1939) starring Victor Francen and Michel Simon. Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Most of her screen assignments were scene-stealing bits and cameos.” During the French occupation she could be seen in the Édith Piaf vehicle Montmartre sur Seine (Georges Lacombe, 1941), Bresson’s forceful feature debut Les anges du péché/Angels of sin (Robert Bresson, 1943) and the crime classic Le corbeau/The Raven (Henri-Georges Clouzeau, 1943).

Sylvie
French postcard by N.D., no. 22. Photo: H. Manuel.

Sylvie
French postcard. Photo: H. Manuel. The caption goes: Souvenir d'un bonne soirée (Memory of a nice night). On the verso lines from the play Vieil Heidelberg.

Sylvie
French postcard, no. 689. Sent by mail in 1908. Photo: H. Manuel.

The Shameless Old Lady
After the war, Sylvie continued her film career as a character actor. She played mother roles in popular films like Pour une nuit d'amour/Passionnelle (Edmond T. Gréville, 1947) with Odette Joyeux, and Pattes blanches/White Paws (Jean Grémillon, 1949). She also appeared as the village teacher in the comedy hit Don Camillo/The Little World of Don Camillo (Julien Duvier, 1952) about the fights of a village priest (Fernandel) and the communistic mayor (Gino Cervi). She played the paralyzed madame Raquin in Thérèse Raquin (Marcel Carné, 1953) featuring Simone Signoret. In the 1960s she played grandmothers in Cronaca familiar/Family Diary (Valerio Zurlini, 1962) starring Marcello Mastroianni, and Château en Suède/Nutty, Naughty Chateau (Roger Vadim, 1963) with Monica Vitti. Her last film gave her a leading role again, La vieille dame indigne/The Shameless Old Lady (René Allio, 1965) with Victor Lanoux and based on a short story by Bertold Brecht. TM at Time Out: “81-year-old Sylvie is magnificent in this adaptation of Brecht's fable about an old woman who suddenly starts a new life of delightful irresponsibility after the death of her husband, wonderfully wry and funny as she breaks out of a lifetime of devoted household drudgery to enjoy a round of whipped cream sundaes, movies and fast cars. (...) Witty, wise and gently funny, it is also, in its quiet way, a genuinely subversive film.” Sylvie won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress for her role. From then on, she only did some more TV appearances. Sylvie died in 1970 in Compiègne, France. She was 87.


Scene from Les anges du péché/Angels of sin (1943). Source: SnowWhiteDreams86 (YouTube).


Scene from La vieille dame indigne/The Shameless Old Lady (1965). Source: Chrosko55 (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), TM (Time Out), Allociné (French), Wikipedia (French and German) and IMDb.

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