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Micheline Presle, the last cinema legend has passed away


Highlights: Micheline Presle, the last cinema legend has passed away. The great actress passed away on Wednesday at the age of 101. On screen she played with Gérard Philipe, Errol Flynn, Louis Jourdan, Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassman and of course Jean Gabin. In homage to his talent, Le Figaro presents the anthology of his most beautiful roles. The last idyll will last long, we will not forget it.

The great actress passed away on Wednesday at the age of 101. From Diable au corps to Saintes Chéries via Vénus Beauté Institut, in homage to his talent, Le Figaro presents the anthology of his most beautiful roles.

Jean Gabin said to her as the finest compliment to her charm:

“Just look at you and we forgive you everything...”

Micheline Presle, the heroine of Le

Diable au Corps

, the Saint Darling of our young years, left us this Wednesday.

The actress, who was 101 years old, is a cinema legend.

On screen she played with Gérard Philipe, Errol Flynn, Louis Jourdan, Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassman and of course Jean Gabin, the greatest sacred monsters of the seventh art of the 20th century.

This actress with emerald eyes, with a dazzling and sweet smile at the same time, whom François Truffaut, then still a film critic, considered

“the greatest actress in the world”

, the divine Falbalas of Jacques Becker possessed an


game. which accommodated the darkest scenarios and the lightest stories.

And like a miracle of longevity, more than half a century after his debut, his daughter, director Tonie Marshall, will never fail to entrust him with roles commensurate with his talent in her comedies of manners.

Also read: The best films by Tonie Marshall, an avant-garde feminist filmmaker

The Devil in the body...

Micheline Chassagne, her name in the city, was born on August 22, 1922, rue des Bernardins, at the end of the Latin Quarter and a stone's throw from the Luxembourg Gardens, which she cherished like a Madeleine de Proust all her life.

The passion for cinema of this child with a character as mischievous as it is strong awakened in 1932. Her father, an investment banker, took her to see a film for the first time.

The little girl was only ten years old at the time and she marveled at the seductresses of the time whose names were Henri Garat and Jean Murat.

Read alsoThe invigorating charm of Micheline Presle

Fascinated by what was still the beginnings of talking cinema, in the years that followed, she patiently waited for the sound of the end bell at school, the Notre-Dame-de-Sion college, to immediately run into the dark rooms of the cinemas in his neighborhood.

There, she escapes and perhaps imagines that one day, she will also make the spectators dream. The dream becomes reality and a first miracle occurs in 1938. Micheline, who is only fifteen years old, wins a small role in

“Je chante”

, a film starring Charles Trenet.

Micheline Presle and Gérard Philip in

Le Diable au corps


/ Bridgeman Images

She enrolled in Raymond Rouleau's course.

Chance always does things well.

On the day of the first audition Rudolph Josef, the assistant of German director Georg Pabst, was present.

He is looking for young heroines for the film

Young Girls in Distress


He finds Micheline astonishingly natural.

Rouleau's prodigy student thus landed his first major role and his pseudonym.

She plays Jacqueline Presle... like a pearl, a jewel.

In Pabst's film where she plays a leader, a rebel, Micheline Presle bursts onto the screen.

Abel Gance, privileged, saw the rushes and decided to hire him to play two characters, a mother and a daughter, in

Paradise Lost


The year is 1940. The new little wonder of French cinema achieved this feat when she was not yet 18 years old.

The film was released after France's defeat by Germany.

After the Armistice, she decided to leave the capital for Cannes where the beginnings of the Festival had seen the light of day a year earlier.

Also read: François Truffaut: “Micheline Presle, the greatest actress in the world”

In this frivolous world, you have to keep busy.

Rumor and the newspapers, which we do not yet call people, have her engaged to the very attractive Louis Jourdan, whose father owns the Carlton hotel.

The idyll will last long.

In the evening we go to the theater.

Micheline Presle discovers a gifted young principal.

His name is Gérard Philip, without the final e.

She will not forget it.​ The actress had to wait until the end of 1944, after the Liberation, to find a role suited to her.

Jacques Becker, who met him after

Goupi Mains Rouges,

asked him to play the heroine of


, a love story in the fashion world.


Félicie Nanteuil,

Micheline Presle would later confess to having a rare tenderness for

“this luminous film”


The actress then rubs shoulders with Maupassant.

Under the direction of Christian-Jaque and with dialogues by Henri Jeanson, she became

“Boule de Suif”

, a

“patriotic whore”

, as some critics of the time wrote, who resisted in her own way the Prussians during the war of 1870 by stabbing an officer who wanted to abuse her.

The choice of Gérard Philipe

In 1946, the actress met Jean Cocteau who asked her to read

Le Diable au corps

by Radiguet.

The novel and its scent of scandal seemed perfect to him.

She contacted Autant Lara Aurenche and Bost, who came to see her in Brussels where she was performing a play

Am Stram Gram

by André Roussin.

They are all the more excited because Micheline Presle brings as a gift the ideal actor to play François Jaubert, the hero of the film, Gérard Philipe.

She has known his talent since 1941 when she saw him play at the theater in Cannes alongside Madeleine Robinson.

This film, which caused a scandal at the time because it tells the story of a young woman who takes a lover while her husband risks his life in the trench warfare in 14-18, will remain as the major work of his career.

Micheline Presle and her daughter Tonie in 1958. Bridgeman Images


Le Diable au corps

, the sirens of Hollywood pushed her to try her luck in America.

On the other side of the Atlantic, she met Bill Marshall, who was married to a big star of the time, Michèle Morgan.

The man is attractive, is an influential agent in Los Angeles and is also an actor who played with Errol Flynn - and Ronald Reagan - in

The Santa Fe Trail


Love at first sight was immediate and the two lovebirds married in Santa Barbara a few months later, on September 3, 1949. This union would last a long time, giving rise to some beautiful encounters with Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Fritz Lang... and films without much interest in which Micheline Presle plays, in her own words - in excellent English all the same -,

"the pretty French girl on duty"


The only happy memory of this American period will be the birth of his daughter Tonie who was born on November 25, 1951 in France after a hasty departure from the United States.

She plays a demi-mondaine to perfection, very worldly.

Jean Gabin

Undisputed star before and just after the 1940 war after the disastrous interlude in America, Micheline Presle's career struggled to resume on her return to France.

The 1950s (If

Versailles Was Told to Me


The Bride is Too Beautiful



, etc.) only offered him roles of pretty women whose beauty was irreversibly fading.

Her passion for cinema did not abandon her and, like the good poker player she was, at the end of her years her lucky star shined again.

She first shot under the direction of a master of the seventh Joseph Losey, a thriller with a complex plot, the investigation of Inspector Morgan.

Then it was Jean Delannoy's turn to offer him the character of Perle Germain Joubert in

Le Baron de l'écluse

adapted from a short story by Georges Simenon.

In this film with dialogue by Michel Audiard, her distinguished banter as a Parisian from the Latin Quarter works wonders.

Jean Gabin, her partner on screen, delighted to give her the answer, will then say of the one he calls Mademoiselle Presle:

“She plays a demi-mondaine to perfection, very worldly.”

The virtuous spiral of success even took an unexpected turn in 1964 with what Micheline Presle humorously called

“the holy series”

in her memoirs .

In 1963, Jean Becker called him to entrust him with the character of Eve Lagarde, a woman in her forties, emancipated, liberated, whose character announces the societal upheavals of May 68. This serial entitled

Les Saintes Chéries

comme the work of Nicole de Buron, who inspired it, kept millions of French people watching the late ORTF's only channel during the five years that it was broadcast.

After having worked with undisguised joy with directors whom she describes as


like Jérôme Savary and Jacques Davila when she received an honorary César in 2004, the actress has the distinction of being able to play under the direction of his own daughter Tonie Marshall.

The actress, proud of the success of her only child, wrote in Di(s)gressions:

“She took charge of herself in a masterful way.”

And always humble in the face of a life which made her a huge star at 16 years old, she loved to repeat the last days of her life, that in the Luxembourg gardens where she loved to walk people who always recognized her, stopped her to tell him:

“Ah, I saw you in the Tonie Marshall film.”

Le Figaro

presents, below in images, the anthology of Micheline Presle's great films, from

Félicie Nanteuil


Vénus, Beauté (Institut)


Le Diable au corps


Le Baron de l'écluse


Félicie Nanteuil

by Marc Allégret in 1942


by Jacques Becker in 1944

Ball of tallow

by Christian-Jaque in 1945

The Devil in the Body

by Claude Autant-Lara in 1947

Inspector Morgan's Investigation

by Joseph Losey in 1959

The Baron of the Lock

by Jean Delannoy in 1960

The Assassin

by Elio Petri in 1961

Venus Beauty (Institute)

by Tonie Marshall in 1999

Source: lefigaro

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