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03 January 2016

Charles de Rochefort

Charles de Rochefort (1887-1952) was a star of the French silent cinema. He appeared in 34 films between 1911 and 1932, sometimes as a French cowboy. In 1923 he went to the US and made several films in Hollywood. After his return to France, he became a director of sound films.

Charles de Rochefort
French postcard by A.N., Paris, in the series Les Vedettes de Cinéma, no. 77. Photo: Paramount Film.

Serials


Charles d’Authier de Rochefort was born in Port-Vendres, France, in 1887. He was the son of Paul Charles Dominique d'Authier de Rochefort and Camille Caroline Rose Félicité Guelfucci.

In 1905 he started to work in the theatre and the music-halls. In 1910 he made his film debut. One of his first films was the short Pathé comedy Max se marie/Max's Divorce (Max Linder, Lucien Nonguet, 1911) with Max Linder. He would play in eight Linder films between 1910 and 1914.

He also appeared in Pathé dramas by Georges Denola, Albert Capellani and Abel Gance. In 1918 he performed in the serial Impéria (12 episodes) by Jacques Durand, with Jacqueline Forzane.

Then followed the films Marthe (Gaston Roudès, 1919), Fille du peuple/Girl of the People (Camille de Morlhon, 1920), L’empire du diamant/The Empire of the Diamond (Léonce Perret, 1920) and Roi de Camargue/King of Camargue (André Hugon, 1921).

De Rochefort again appeared in two serial films: Gigolette (Henri Pouctal, 1921, 4 episodes) and L’empereur des pauvres (René Leprince, 1921, 6 episodes) with Gina Manés and a young Lily Damita.

In 1922, De Rochefort played in several films: in André Antoine’s L’Arlésienne/The Girl from Arles, two films by André Hugon: Notre dame d’amour/Our Lady of Love and Le diamant noir/The Black Diamond, L’homme qui pleure/The Crying man by Louis d’Hée and Louis de Verande, and the British-French co-production The Spanish Jade/Sous le soleil d’Espagne by John S. Robertson and starring Evelyn Brent.

After two more French films, La dame au ruban de velours (Giuseppe Guarino, 1923) with Arlette Marchal, and La faute des autres/Other's Fault (Jacques Olivier, 1923), Charles de Rochefort left France and went again to the United States.

Charles de Rochefort
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, no. 158.

Charles de Rochefort
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 34. Photo: Studio Pathé.

Super-production


In Hollywood, Charles de Rochefort played in The Marriage Maker (William C. DeMille, 1923) with Mary Astor.

He briefly appeared in Hollywood/Joligud (James Cruze, 1923) and with Dorothy Dalton in The Law of the Lawless (Victor Fleming, 1923). Credited as Charles De Roche, he also played opposite Pola Negri in The Cheat (George Fitzmaurice, 1923), a remake of Cecil B. DeMille's 1915 hit feature using the same script by Hector Turnbull and Jeanie MacPherson.

His best known Hollywood part was Pharaoh Rameses, the Magnificent in the prologue of the epic The Ten Commandments (Cecil B. DeMille, 1923) with Rod La Rocque.

In the following year De Rochefort appeared in four more American films: Love and Glory (Rupert Julian, 1924), Shadows of Paris (Herbert Brenon, 1924), The White Moth (Maurice Tourneur, 1924) starring Barbara LaMarr; and Madame Sans-Gêne (Léonce Perret, 1924), a super-production around Gloria Swanson.

In 1925 Rochefort left Hollywood and returned to France, where he played in La princesse aux clowns/The Princess and the Clowns (André Hugon, 1925) with Huguette Duflos.

Charles de Rochefort
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 154. Photo: V. Henri.

Charles de Rochefort
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. 141. Photo: Paramount.

Multilingual Productions


Charles de Rochefort then stayed away from the cinema for four years. When he returned in 1929 it was not as actor but as director.

Meanwhile sound film had arrived. At the Paramount Pictures studio at Joinville-le-Pont in Paris, he directed the sound film Une femme a menti/A Woman Has Lied (1929) with Louise Lagrange and scripted by immigrant Hermann Kosterlitz (aka Henry Koster).

In 1930 he made the French, Italian, Czech and Rumanian version of Paramount on Parade, starring resp. Maurice Chevalier, Carmen Boni, Jiri Voskovec and Pola Illéry.

Rochefort also directed the multilingual Le secret du docteur/The Secret of the Doctor (1930), with Marcelle Chantal in the French and Eugenia Zoffoli in the Spanish version.

In 1931 Rochefort acted once more in the film La croix du sud/Southern Cross (André Hugon, 1931), for which he also did the photography, and he directed Televisione (1931), the Italian version of the Paramount multilingual Magie moderne/Television. He also directed the short Dorville chauffeur (1930) and Un bouquet de flirts (1931) with Josette Day.

He went on to work on stage and had his own theatre in Paris, the Theatre Charles de Rochefort, which still exists today as the Théâtre Tristan-Bernard at 64 rue Rocher. In 1943 he wrote the book Le Film de Mes Souvenirs (Secrets de Vedettes).

Charles de Rochefort died in Paris in 1952. He was 64.


First Part of The Ten Commandments (1923). Source: joe25Xcel (YouTube).

Sources: Pascal Donald (CineArtistes - French), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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