26 January 2012

Claude Génia

Claude Génia (1913-1979) was a French film and stage actress of Russian origin. She was also a theatre manager. As a film actress her glory years were in the 1940s, with such films as Le capitan (Robert Vernay, 1946).

Claude Génia
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 10. Photo Pathé-Cinéma.

Claude Génia
French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no.86. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Le capitan

Claude Génia was born as Claude Génia (Evguenia) Aranovitch in Vetlouga, Russian Empire (now Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Russia), in 1913.

She made her debut as film actress in the part of Gisèle next to Edwige Feuillère in the comedy L'honorable Catherine/The Honorable Catherine (Marcel L'Herbier, 1943), about a woman who blackmails others among whom Gisèle and Jack (Raymond Rouleau).

She became a star in the part of Delphine de Nucingen, Honoré de Balzac’s heroin, in the adaptation of Le Père Goriot (Robert Vernay, 1945), starring Pierre Renoir as Vautrin and Pierre Larquey in the title part.

Vernay gave Génia the role of Gisèle d’Angoulême in Le capitan/The Captain (Robert Vernay, 1946), with again Pierre Renoir as the Duke of Angoulême, and co-starring Jean Pâqui (Le Capitan), Sophie Desmarets (Marion Delorme), Huguette Duflos (Marie de Medici), and Aimé Clariond (Concini).

Based on a novel by Michel Zévaco, the cape and dagger film deals with young Adhémar de Capestang, nicknamed 'le capitan', who arrives in Paris looking for fortune and falls in love with beautiful Gisele d’Angouleme. Her father, though, is messed up in a conspiracy against the young king Louis XIII. Marshall Concini would like to keep the power his lover, queen-mother Marie de Medici, gave to him, but The Captain fights the conspiracy, defending the young king Louis XIII (Serge Emrich) and Concini is killed.

In 1960 a popular remake would be made by André Hunebelle, with Jean Marais as Le capitan and Elsa Martinelli as Gisèle.

Claude Génia
French postcard by C.F.C.C. A.N., Paris, no. 1225. Photo: Ancrenaz. Claude Génia as Gisèle d'Angoulême in Le capitan (1946).

Pierre Renoir in Le capitan
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 1228. Photo: Ancrenaz, Paris. Pierre Renoir as the Duke of Angoulême in Le capitan (Robert Vernay, 1946).

Horror Comedy

Claude Génia had also major parts during the 1940s in the Franco-Italian coproduction Les beaux jours du roi Murat (Théophile Pathé, 1947), co-starring Alfred Adam and Junie Astor, Carrefour du crime/Crossroads of Crime (Jean Sacha, 1948) with Louis Salou, and La louve/The wolf (Guillaume Radot, 1949) with Jean Davy.

In 1952, Génia played the part of Jeanne Donge in the thriller La Vérité sur Bébé Donge/The Truth About Bebe Donge (Henri Decoin, 1952), with Jean Gabin and Danielle Darrieux, followed by parts such as La Carconte in Le comte de Monte-Christo/The Count of Monte Cristo (Robert Vernay, 1954) starring Jean Marais.

From 1958 to 1966 Génia directed the Théâtre Edouard VII and was absent from the screen, but after that she returned for parts like Madame Golovine in J'ai tué Raspoutine/I Killed Rasputin (Robert Hossein, 1967) starring Gert Fröbe as Rasputin, and Marguerite in the horror comedy Dracula père et fils/Dracula and Son (Édouard Molinaro, 1976) featuring Christopher Lee.

On stage she appeared as Hécuba with Claude Jade, François Beaulieu and Corinne Marchand in La guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu (1975), staged at the Théâtre des Célestins in Lyon, and directed by Jean Meyer. Génia also appeared on television, as in Les Enfants du faubourg/The Children of Fauburg (Maurice Frydland, 1968), an episode of the series Les Cinq Dernières Minutes/The Five Last Minutes.

Claude Génia died in 1979 in Tours, France. She was 66. She was married to Jacques Le Beau.

Claude Génia
French postcard by Editions E.C., Paris, no. 104. Photo Pathé.

Sources: Wikipedia (French), and IMDb.

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