25 April 2012

Le Capitan

Le Capitan/The Captain (1946, Robert Vernay) was one of the popular Sword and Dagger films (or Swashbucklers) made in France in the years after the Second World War. It was produced by the Compagnie Franco Coloniale Cinématographique (CFCC). To promote the film, a series of wonderful postcards was published by A.N. in Paris. The pictures for the cards are atmospheric portraits of the main actors in character, shot by the Parisian photographer and cinematographer Pierre Ancrenaz.

Pierre Renoir in Le capitan
Pierre Renoir as the Duke of Angouleme in Le Capitan (1946).
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 1228. Photo: Ancrenaz / C.F.C.C.

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

The Cast
Le Capitan/The Captain stars Pierre Renoir as the Duke of Angoulême, and Claude Génia as his daughter Gisèle d’Angoulême, and Jean Pâqui as Le Capitan. Co-stars are Sophie Desmarets as Marion Delorme, Huguette Duflos as Marie de Medici, Aimé Clairiond as Concino Concini, and Lise Delamare as his wife, Léonore Caligaï. Other cast members were Jean Tissier as Cogelin, Maurice Escande as Le prince de Condé, Alexandre Rignault as Rinaldo, and Serge Emrich as the young Louis XIII. The script for the film was written by director Robert Vernay himself and was based on a novel by Michel Zévaco.

Sophie Desmarets
Sophie Desmarets as Marion Delorme in Le Capitan (1946). French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 1239. Photo: Ancrenaz / C.F.C.C.

Huguette Duflos
Huguette Duflos as Marie de Medici in Le Capitan (1946). French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 1223. Photo: Ancrenaz / C.F.C.C.

The plot
Le Capitan is the nickname of young Adhémar de Capestang (Jean Pâqui). In 1616 he arrives in Paris looking for fortune. He falls in love with beautiful Gisele d’Angouleme. Her father, though, is messed up in a conspiracy against the young king Louis XIII (Serge Emrich). Marshall Concino Concini (Aimé Clariond) wants to keep the power that his lover, queen-mother Marie de Médicis (Huguette Duflos), gave to him. The Captain fights the conspiracy, and defends the young king. At the end Concini is killed.

Aimé Clariond
Aimé Clariond as Concini in Le Capitan (1946).
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 1228. Photo: Ancrenaz / C.F.C.C.

Alexandre Rignault
Alexandre Rignault as Renaldo in Le Capitan (1946).
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 1229. Photo: Ancrenaz / C.F.C.C.

The History
Concini and his wife, Leonora Dori Galigai, really existed. Galigai was a favourite of Maria de Medici. When Maria became queen consort of Henry IV, Leonora followed her to France. After the death of Henry IV in 1610, Maria became regent of France. Galigai managed to lift her husband Concino Concini (who may have had a say in Henry IV's murder) to the rank of Marshall of France and he supposedly became the Queen's lover. Because of her epilepsy, Galigai was believed to be possessed. The superstitious Queen hired her for exorcism and white magic, and paid her huge sums. Galigai earned extra by bribing anyone who wanted access to the Queen. Galigai and Concini practically ruled France, favoriting Tuscan nobility and weakening the power of French nobility. In 1617 the young king Louis XIII and his aids overthrew the rule of Maria de Medici, murdered Concini, while Leonora Galigai was accused of witchcraft. She was publicly beheaded and burned to the stake.

Jean Tissier
French postcard. A.N., Paris, no. 1227. Photo: Ancrenaz / C.F.C.C. Publicity still for Le Capitan (1946, Robert Vernay) with Jean Tissier as Cogolin.

Serge Emrich in Le capitan
Serge Emrich as king Louis XIII in Le capitan (1946). French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 1224. Photo: Ancrenaz / C.F.C.C.

The Remake
In 1960 a popular remake of the film would be made by André Hunebelle, also titled Le Capitan/The Captain. The film starred Jean Marais as Le Capitan, Bourvil as Cogolin and Elsa Martinelli as Gisèle. Lise Delamare was again in the cast, now as Marie de Médicis.

Lise Delamare in Le Capitan
Lise Delmare as Léonore Caligaï in Le Capitan (1946). French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 1221. Photo: Ancrenaz / C.F.C.C.

Sources: IMDb.

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