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22 May 2014

Édouard de Max

Actor Édouard de Max (1869-1924) was a leading man and monstre sacré of the French stage. He also appeared in silent films of the 1910s and the 1920s, including two versions of the Les Trois Mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers.

Édouard de Max
French postcard.

Edouard de Max
French postcard by F.C. et Cie, no. 163. Photo: Saul Boyer.

Film d'art


Édouard de Max was born as Eduard-Alexandru Max in Iasi, Romania, in 1869.

He graduated from the Conservatory of Paris, and from the 1890s on he appeared on the French stage. He played frequently opposite Sarah Bernhardt.

He made his film debut in America, in the Vitagraph short MacBeth (J. Stuart Blackton, 1908). It is the earliest known film version of the play by William Shakespeare.

Between 1908 and 1912, he appeared in a handful films of the French company Film d'art, including Polyeucte (Camille de Morlhon, 1910), and Athalie (Albert Capellani, Michel Carré, 1910).

In 1912 he appeared in Une vengeance d'Edgar Poë/The Vengeance of Edgard Poe (Gérard Bourgeois, 1912) after a script by Abel Gance based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe, and ha also acted in another horror film Le masque d'horreur/The Mask of Horror (Abel Gance, 1912) with Charles de Rochefort.

In 1912 De Max also appeared in an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' famous novel Les Trois Mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (André Calmettes, Henri Pouctal, 1912). Emile Dehelly played D'Artagnan.

Edouard de Max
French collector's card.

Edouard de Max. Comédien.
Photo. Collection: Michel Thomas (Flickr).

Silent super-serial


In 1920 Édouard de Max also appeared as Richelieu in the second adaptation, Les Trois Mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant Berger, 1921). It was a French twelve-hour film divided into one-hour chapters, produced by Pathé Frères. This silent super-serial was designed to be released as a serial in consecutive weeks over a three-month period.

De Max again played Richelieu in Henri Diamant-Berger's sequel to Les trois mousquetaires: Vingts ans après/Five Years Later (1922), followed by roles in Diamant-Berger's films Les mauvais garçons/The Bad Boys (1922) and Milady (1923).

He also appeared in the Italian historical epic Messalina/The Fall of an Empress (Enrico Guazzoni, 1922) starring Rina De Liguoro.

That year he also appeared opposite a young Maurice Chevalier in Le mauvais garçon/Bad Boy (1922, Henri Diamant-Berger).

Two years later, in 1924, Édouard de Max died in Paris. He was 55.

Les Trois Mousquetaires, 13
French postcard by M. Le Deley, Paris. Photo: still from Les Trois Mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant Berger, 1921), produced by Pathé Consortium Cinéma. Édouard de Max played Cardinal Richelieu.

Les Trois Mousquetaires, 1
French postcard by M. Le Deley, Paris. Photo: still from Les Trois Mousquetaires/The Three Musketeers (Henri Diamant Berger, 1921), produced by Pathé Consortium Cinéma.

Édouard de Max in Vingt ans après
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 63. Photo: Pathé Consortium. Édouard de Max as Monsieur de Gondi (and not as Richelieu as IMDb claims) in Vingt ans après (1922), Henri Diamant-Berger's sequel to his earlier film Les trois mousquetaires (1921).

Sources: Rudmer Canjels (Beyond the Cliffhanger: distributing silent serials); Richard Abel (French Cinema - The First Wave 1915-1929), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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