Michèle Mercier. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 25/71, 1971. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress.
Robert Hossein. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 32/71. Retail price: 0,20 M.
An Overnight Success
The Angélique phenomenon started as a series of 13 French historical adventure books by Anne and Serge Golon. In fact, Anne Golon is the author and her husband Serge did much of the historical research.
The first novel, Angélique, the Marquise of the Angels, was published in 1957. The book was an overnight success.
Heroin Angélique de Sancé de Monteloup is a lusciously beautiful 17th Century woman, fifth child of an impoverished country nobleman in the Poitou marshlands in the west of France.
Wikipedia gives a bit ironic summary of the successive books: "she marries at a young age the romantic and talented Count of Toulouse; gets her domestic bliss destroyed when King Louis XIV has her husband executed on trumped up charges; descends into the underworld of Paris; emerges and through a turbulent second marriage gets admittance to the court in Versailles; loses her second husband in war, just as she had started to truly love him, and subsequently refuses to become the King's mistress; finds that her first husband is after all alive and is hiding somewhere in the Mediterranean; sets out on a highly risky search, gets captured by pirates, sold into slavery in Crete, taken into the harem of the King of Morocco, stabs the King when he tries to have sex with her, and stages a daring escape" etc.
Robert Hossein, Michèle Mercier. Romanian mini-card.
Small Romanian collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Angélique et le roy/Angelique and the King (Bernard Borderie, 1966) with Michèle Mercier and Samy Frey.
Unique flair for historical costume dramas
Some of the Angélique novels were adapted into a series of 5 popular films:
- Angélique, Marquise des Anges/Angélique (1964).
- Merveilleuse Angelique/Angelique: The Road to Versailles (1965).
- Angélique et le roy/Angelique and the King (1966).
- Indomptable Angelique/Untamable Angelique (1967).
- Angélique et le sultan/Angelique and the Sultan (1968).
According to James Travers at French Film Site, Angélique, Marquise des Anges/Angélique is notably the best of the series: "the adventures of a beautiful 17th century marquise, Angélique, played magnificently by Michèle Mercier. Although rarely seen outside of continental Europe, these films were very successful in France in the 1960s and display that country's unique flair for historical costume dramas."
The films were a joint production of France, Italy and Germany. Director of the whole series of films was Bernard Borderie and the main stars were Michèle Mercier as Angélique Sancé de Monteloup and Robert Hossein as Jeoffrey de Peyrac.
Other characters were played by Jean Rochefort as Desgrez, Giuliano Gemma as Angelique's childhood friend Nicolas Merlot, Jacques Toja as King Louis XIV, Claude Giraud as Angélique's second husband Philippe de Plessis-Bellières, Jean-Louis Trintignant as the poet Claude le Petit, Samy Frey as Bachtiary Bey, Estella Blain as the evil Madame De Montespan, Fred Williams as Ràkóczi, and in the final film Jean-Claude Pascal as Sultan Osman Ferradji.
Michèle Mercier. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 35/71, 1971. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Publicity still for Indomptable Angelique/Untamable Angelique (Bernard Borderie, 1967) with Robert Hossein.
The first 10 books have been adapted into English while numbers 11-13 have not. For those English readers, who have waited over thirty-five years to read the conclusion of the Angélique series, there is new hope.
According to Wikipedia, Anne Golon has announced that she will re-publish the Angélique books, restoring the lacunae missing from her original manuscripts because of professional editing.
She plans to title this version L'Integrale (complete works). Anne Golon explained that there is much material that has never been published and which will tie into two later, and still unwritten, books in the series.
These two books will follow the original series: Royaume de France (Kingdom of France), and a fifteenth and final volume, as yet untitled, to complete the series.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 277. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le sultan/Angelique and the Sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968) with Robert Hossein.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le sultan/Angelique and the sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968) with Michèle Mercier and Jean-Claude Pascal.
A Turkish Angélique
The Angélique films were popular all over Europe. They were also very popular in Central Europe where the postcards used for this post were published, by Progress in East-Germany and by Acin in Romania.
During the 1970s, all the kids at my school were exited to see the Angélique films when they were shown on Dutch television. Romance, adventure, and a tiny bit of nudity. We loved it.
To my surprise, two Turkish Angélique films exist as well: Anjelik Osmanli saraylarinda/Angélique in the Ottoman Palaces (Ülkü Erakalin, 1967) and Anjelik ve Deli Ibrahim/Angelique and Deli Ibrahim (Süha Dogan, 1968), both starring Sevda Ferdag as Anjelik 'Angélique de Peyrac'. The first film gets a 7,9 rating at IMDb.
In 2013, a remake of Angélique, marquise des anges went in premiere: Angélique (Ariel Zeitoun, 2013). Nora Arnezeder played Angelique and Gérard Lanvin Joffrey de Peyrac.
At IMDb, the film received a poor rating of only 5,6, but Polish reviewer Malgga liked it 'very, very much': "A beautiful, engaging and immensely romantic rendition of the 'Beauty and the Beast' fairy tale motive".
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le sultan/Angelique and the sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968) with Michèle Mercier.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le sultan/Angelique and the Sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968) with Robert Hossein.
Sources: James Travers (French Film Site), Wikipedia and IMDb.