French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris. no. 22. Photo: Studio Piaz.
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris. no. 44. Photo: Studio Piaz.
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris. no. 118. Photo: Studio Piaz.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris. no. 22. Photo: Studio Carlet Ainé.
Most Promising Actress
Micheline Presle (sometimes Presles or Prelle) was born as Micheline Nicole Julia Émilienne Chassagne in Paris in 1922. She was the daughter of a businessman and took acting classes as a teen.
Her film debut was La Fessée/The Buttock (Pierre Caron, 1937) with Albert Préjean. In 1938 she was awarded with the Prix Suzanne Bianchetti for the most promising actress.
She took the name of Presle after her character's name Jacqueline Presle in Jeune fille en détresse/Girls in Distress (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1939).
In the 1930s and the war years Presle often played the lively young and naive girl. Examples are La nuit fantastique/Fantastic Night (Marcel L'Herbier, 1942) and Falbalas/Paris Frills (Jacques Becker, 1944) with Raymond Rouleau.
Presle became a 'vedette' of the French cinema. After the war she played more serious roles as the streetwise young woman, such as the prostitute in Boule de suif/Angel and Sinner (Christian-Jaque, 1946), the adultress in Le diable au corps/Devil in the Flesh (Claude Autant-Lara, 1947), and the ethereal woman coming back from the dead in Les jeux sont faits/Second Chance (Jean Delannoy, 1947).
At the same time she also played the female lead of Helene/Jone in the major Franco-Italian epic Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei/Sins of Pompei (1950) by Paolo Moffa and Marcel L'Herbier, in whose films she was often performing during the 1940s.
At the summit of her French career, Presle went to the US. She was offered a contract by 20th Century Fox and she worked in Hollywood under the name Prelle. She was first cast in Under my skin (Jean Negulesco, 1950) with John Garfield, and then in American Guerrilla in the Philipines (Fritz Lang, 1950) with Tyrone Power.
She was married to actor-turned-producer William Marshall (1950-54), who directed her in The Adventures of Captain Fabian (William Marshall, 1951), opposite Errol Flynn. The film flopped, Presle disliked Hollywood, divorced Marshall, and returned to France.
French postcard by SERP, Paris, no. 5. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by Edition du Globe (EDUG), Paris, no. 163. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by Editions Chantal, Rueil, no. 637B. Photo: Discina, Paris.
French postcard by Editions Chantal, Rueil, no. 637A. Photo: Discina, Paris.
French postcard by Collection Chantal, Paris. no. 637. Photo: Discina, Paris.
Back in France, Micheline Presle played in many films, such as Si Versailles m'était conté/Royal Affairs in Versailles (Sacha Guitry, 1953), Napoléon (Sacha Guitry, 1955), La mariée est trop belle/Her Bridal Night (Pierre Gaspard-Huit, 1956) opposite young Brigitte Bardot, and Christine (Pierre Gaspard-Huit, 1958) with Alain Delon and Romy Schneider.
Presle also performed in Italy in Casa Ricordi/House Ricordi (Carmine Gallone, 1954), Beatrice Cenci/Castle of the Banned Lovers (Riccardo Freda, 1956) and she had a smaller part in Villa Borghese/It Happened in the Park (Gianni Franciolini, Vittorio de Sica, 1953).
In 1959 she played opposite Hardy Kruger in Blind Date (Joseph Losey, 1959) and in 1962 Presle returned to Hollywood to play in the Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee vehicle If a Man Answers (Henry Levin, 1962), and subsequently in The Prize (Mark Robson, 1963) with Paul Newman.
During the 1960s she played in such popular films as Philippe de Broca's Le roi de coeur/The King of Hearts (1965), but also in the art films L'Assassino/The Assassin (Elio Petri, 1961), La Religieuse/The Nun (Jacques Rivette, 1965), Peau d'ane (Jacques Demy, 1970), I Want to Go Home (Alain Resnais, 1989), and Mignon è partita/Mignon Has Come to Stay (Francesca Archibugi, 1989).
From the early 1960s on, Presle also played in several French TV series, such as the long running comedy Les saintes chéries (1965-1970). She has appeared frequently on the stage as well.
Since the 1990s Presle has performed regularly in films. She was very visible in the films of her daughter, Tonie Marshall, as in Pas très catholique/Something Fishy (Tonie Marshall, 1994) and France boutique (Tonie Marshall, 2003).
Recently, Micheline Presle was seen in Thelma, Louise et Chantal (Benoît Pétré, 2010) starring Jane Birkin, and in the short family drama Je montrerai mes seins/I show my tits (Eduardo Sosa Soria, 2013).
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris. no. 40. Photo: Charles Vandamme, Les Mirages.
French postcard by Edit. Chantal, Rueil. no. 68. Photo: Védis Films.
French postcard, no. 13. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by Edit. O.P., Paris. no. 53. Photo: Studio Piaz.
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris. no. 619. Photo: Sam Lévin, Paris.
Sources: Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Allociné, Wikipedia, and IMDb.