12 May 2017

Roger Pigaut

French actor Roger Pigaut (1919–1989) appeared in 40 films between 1943 and 1978. He also worked as a film director and scriptwriter.

Roger Pigaut
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 55. Photo: Eclair Journal. Publicity still for L'Invité de la onzième heure/The Eleventh Hour Guest (Maurice Cloche, 1945)

Roger Pigaut
German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, no. 1693. Photo: EGC / Fernand Rivers / Constantin Film. Publicity still for La Lumière d'en face/Female and the Flesh (Georges Lacombe, 1955).

A level of stratospheric intensity

Roger Pigaut was born Roger Paul Louis Pigot in Vincennes, France, in 1919.

In 1938, Pigaut attended the theatre courses of Raymond Rouleau and the following year he was admitted to the Conservatoire. But because of the war, he left to the South of France.

From 1943 on, he played in more than forty films. One of his first films was the romantic drama Douce/Love Story (Claude Autant-Lara, 1943) with Odette Joyeux. He co-starred with Madeleine Robinson in the crime drama Sortilèges/The Bellman (Christian-Jaque, 1945).

D.B. Dumontiel at IMDb: “Robinson and Pigaut had already teamed up in Claude Autant-Lara's classic Douce and the scenes where they are together (particularly the ball) take the film out on a level of stratospheric intensity that simply rises above the rest.”

Pigaut’s most prominent roles were as Antoine in the comedy Antoine et Antoinette (Jacques Becker, 1947) with Claire Mafféi as Antoinette, and as Pierre Bouquinquant in Les frères Bouquinquant/The brothers Bouquinquant (Louis Daquin, 1948).

D.B. Dumontiel again: “Antoine and Antoinette retains its pristine charm. It's very well acted, and Becker's camera is fluid, his sympathy for his characters is glaring. Qualities which will emerge again in such works as Rendez-vous de Juillet and his towering achievement Casque D'Or.”

Pigaut then portrayed the eighteenth century adventurer Louis Dominique Bourguignon known as Cartouche in the historical film Cartouche, roi de Paris/Cartouche (Guillaume Radot, 1950).

Roger Pigaut
French postcard by Edit. Chantal, Rueil, no. 9. Photo: Industrie Cinématographique. Publicity still for Douce/Love Story (Claude Autant-Lara, 1943).

Roger Pigaut
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 55. Photo: C.C.F.C. (Compagnie Commerciale Française Cinématographique). Publicity still for Bagarres/Wench (Henri Calef, 1948).

I Killed Rasputin

In Italy, Roger Pigaut played a supporting part in the Italian Peplum Teodora, imperatrice di Bisanzio/Theodora, Slave Empress (Riccardo Freda, 1954) about Theodora (Gianna Maria Canale), a former slave who married Justinian I, emperor of Byzantium in AD 527–565.

He also appeared as Le Marquis d'Escrainville in two parts of the popular Angélique series featuring Michèle Mercier, Indomptable Angélique/Untamable Angelique (Bernard Borderie, 1967) and Angélique et le sultan/Angelique and the Sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968).

Other historical films in which Pigaut appeared were the Italian-French J'ai tué Raspoutine/I Killed Rasputin (Robert Hossein, 1967) with Gert Fröbe as Grigori Rasputin, and the romantic tragedy Mayerling (Terence Young, 1968) starring Omar Sharif as Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and Catherine Deneuve as his mistress Baroness Maria Vetsera.

His last film was Une Histoire simple/A Simple Story (Claude Sautet, 1978), starring Romy Schneider, which was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Roger Pigaut also directed six films, and he played in the theatre. For five years, he was the companion of actress Betsy Blair from the late-1950s to the early-1960s (in between her marriages to Gene Kelly and Karel Reisz). Together with Serge Reggiani, they founded the production company Garance Films, with which they produced such films as Cerf-volant du bout du monde/The Magic of the Kite (Roger Pigaut, 1958) and the caper Trois milliards sans ascenseur/3000 Million Without an Elevator (Roger Pigaut, 1972) with Reggiani, and Dany Carrel.

Later he was married to French actress Joëlle Bernard. Roger Pigaut passed away in 1989 in Paris. He was 70.

Roger Pigaut
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 36. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Roger Pigaut
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. I 477. Photo: EGC / Fernand Rivers / Constantin Film. Publicity still for La Lumière d'en face/Female and the Flesh (Georges Lacombe, 1955).

Sources: D.B. Dumonteil (IMDb), Wikipedia (French and English) and IMDb.

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