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09 November 2016

Il figlio di Madame Sans-Gêne (1921)

The Italian silent film Il figlio di Madame Sans-Gêne/The Son of Madame Sans-Gêne (Baldassarre Negroni, 1921) was based on the novel by Emile Moreau. Madame Sans-Gêne was played by the Italian diva Hesperia.

Il figlio di Madame Sans-Gêne (1921)
French postcard by Le Deley, Paris. Photo: U.C.I. / Gaumont / Tiber Film. Publicity still for Il figlio di Madame Sans-Gêne (Baldassarre Negroni, 1921), with Hesperia and Pauline Polaire.

Il figlio di Madame Sans-Gêne (1921)
French postcard by Le Deley, Paris. Photo: U.C.I. / Gaumont / Tiber Film. Publicity still for Il figlio di Madame Sans-Gêne (Baldassarre Negroni, 1921), with Enrico Scatizzi and Carlo Troisi.

Madame Sans-Gêne


In Il figlio di Madame Sans-Gêne/The Son of Madame Sans-Gêne, sergeant Lefèvre (Enrico Scatizzi) meets an ironing lady (Hesperia) at a 'bal populaire' during the celebrations of the first successes of the French Revolution. They marry and have a son, Antonio. Lefèvre proves himself on the European battlefields and he becomes Marshal and Duke of Danzig. His wife becomes Madame Sans-Gêne, Duchess of Danzig.

When Antonio (Carlo Troisi) has grown up, he falls in love with a young noble lady (Pauline Polaire), but she is already promised to the seigneur Ambzac, a Royalist conspirator. When the girl marries D'Ambzac, Antonio decides to flee with her, and steals money from his father. When the theft is found out, Antonio asks to be sent to the battle front as punishment. There he is charged to ask for reinforcements, but during his travels he meets D'Ambzac again His wife has returned to him, and Antonio forgets his mission.

Condemned to death for high treason, it is his father who signs his death warrant. He brings a gun to his son in prison to spare him the shame of the execution, but finds his wife in the cell instead, who has traded places with her son. During his flight Antonio discovers an enemy plan and informs the command. When at the end of the day victory is celebrated, the parents find their son dying. He dies in his mother's arms, while the Emperor Napoleon decorates him with the Legion of Honour.

Il figlio di Madame Sans-Gêne, produced by Tiber-film, had its Roman premiere on 12 December 1921. The film was praised in the Italian press. The Cine-Fono journal thought the film well respected history and expressed the right emotions, without too much artifice. The film had sets by renowned artist Camillo Innocenti.

But the film was particularly praised for its acting. La vita cinematografica thought the story old-style romantic, but direction and performance of Scatizzi, Hesperia and Troisi were well above the average and lifted the story to a new level. Hesperia had appeared since 1912 in Italian films and had made some very popular films. The diva was married to the director of her film, Baldassarre Negroni.

Il figlio di Madame Sans-Gêne (1921)
French postcard by Le Deley, Paris. Photo: U.C.I. / Gaumont / Tiber Film. Publicity still for Il figlio di Madame Sans-Gêne (Baldassarre Negroni, 1921). Here Hesperia as Madame Sans-Gêne is portrayed similarly to François Gérard's portrait of Juliette Récamier.

Il figlio di Madame Sans-Gêne (1921)
French postcard by Le Deley, Paris. Photo: U.C.I. / Gaumont / Tiber Film. Publicity still for Il figlio di Madame Sans-Gêne (Baldassarre Negroni, 1921), with Hesperia as the woman dressed as soldier in the middle.

Source: Vittorio Martinelli (Il cinema muto italiano, 1921-1922 - Italian), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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