Alfred Savoir

Alfred 'Savoir' Poznański (23 January 1883 – 26 June 1934) was a French Jewish comedy playwright of Polish Jewish origin.[1]

Alfred Savoir
Alfred Savoir 1931.png
Alfred Savoir in 1931
Alfred Poznanski

(1883-01-23)23 January 1883
Łódź, Poland
Died26 June 1934(1934-06-26) (aged 51)
Paris, France
NationalityPolish, French


Alfred Poznanski was born in Łódź in Poland (then in the Russian Empire) on 23 January 1883, in a Jewish family. After being educated in a public junior high school in Łódź, he was admitted to the University of Montpellier, where he studied law. On graduating, he settled in Paris.[2]

Poznanski became a playwright, writing in French under the pen name of Alfred Savoir. His plays were mainly staged in France, but some were put on in Poland. His first play to be staged was the comedy Le troisième couvert (the Third cover). His work included sarcastic comedy and vaudeville, but also some serious pieces such as a historical drama about Catherine the Great (La Petite Catherine). He co-founded the weekly magazine "Marianne" and was one of the editors. Poznanski served in the French air force in World War I and was awarded the Legion of Honour for his courage.[2]

Savoir was a rival of Steve Passeur, but had little doubt about his own superior ability. After seeing the first performance of a work by Passeur, he was heard to say, "What an admirable play! I am going to write it."[3] Savoir's plays were called vaudeville idéologique, and he was called "the Bernard Shaw of the Boulevard."[4] His farces took a relaxed attitude towards sex, "an appetite in which man is revealed as funny". This common view among Parisians of the time was disturbing to the more puritan and sentimental Americans.[5]

His play Lui, about a man who thinks he is god, was the basis for the stage play Himself written by Mercedes de Acosta.[6] His 1922 comedy Banco, thought to be daring at the time, was adapted by Clare Kummer and played by Alfred Lunt in Washington and New York with some success.[7] Banco was filmed by Paramount in 1925.[2] His circus farce Der Dompteur (The Lion Tamer) was staged at Berlin's Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in March 1931 with a cast that included Carola Neher, Fritz Kampers, Gustaf Gründgens and Peter Lorre.[8]

Paramount Pictures founded a film production studio at St. Maurice in mid-1930, where they planned to produce all their European films, all of which were multilingual.[9] Savoir succeeded Adolphe Osso as head of production in the French language, with the scripts subject to approval by a committee that included Sacha Guitry and Pierre Benoît.[10]

Alfred Savoir died in Paris on 26 June 1934.[2]

Savoir's play La Huitième Femme de Barbe-Bleue was adapted as the film Bluebeard's Eighth Wife by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. The film, directed by Ernst Lubitsch, was released in March 1938. It starred Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper.[11] The play concerned a man who repeatedly married on the basis that his wife would agree to a divorce and settlement when he had lost interest in her. His eighth wife challenged this arrangement, and eventually obtained a marriage on her own terms. The plot was somewhat controversial in the USA at that time.[12]

Stage playsEdit


  • 1910: The Kreutzer Sonata, by Fernand Nozière and Alfred Savoir after Tolstoy, directed by Lugné-Poe, Theatre Femina
  • 1911: The Eternal Husband, by Fernand Nozière and Alfred Savoir after Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Théâtre Antoine





  1. ^ a b Artaud 1976, p. 621.
  3. ^ Simon 1990, p. 47.
  4. ^ Pharand 2000, p. 357.
  5. ^ Burke 2010, p. 42.
  6. ^ Schanke 2003, p. 95.
  7. ^ Brown 2005, p. 112.
  8. ^ Youngkin 2005, p. 90.
  9. ^ Crisp 1993, p. 173.
  10. ^ Crisp 1993, p. 175.
  11. ^ Gemünden 2008, p. 173-174.
  12. ^ Smedley 2011, p. 167.


  • "ALFRED POZNAŃSKI (ALFRED SAVOIR)". Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  • Artaud, Antonin (1976). Antonin Artaud: Selected Writings. University of California Press. p. 621. ISBN 978-0-520-90894-9. Retrieved 2013-06-12.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Brown, Jared (2005). The Fabulous Lunts. AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1-4634-8788-1. Retrieved 2013-06-13.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Burke, Carolyn (2010-10-06). Lee Miller: A Life. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-375-40147-3. Retrieved 2013-06-13.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Crisp, C. G. (1993). The Classic French Cinema: 1930 - 1960. Indiana University Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-253-31550-2. Retrieved 2013-06-13.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Gemünden, Gerd (2008-01-01). A Foreign Affair: Billy Wilder's American Films. Berghahn Books. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-85745-066-1. Retrieved 2013-06-13.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Pharand, Michel W. (2000). Bernard Shaw and the French. University Press of Florida. p. 357. ISBN 978-0-8130-1828-7. Retrieved 2013-06-12.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Schanke, Robert A. (2003). That Furious Lesbian: The Story of Mercedes De Acosta. SIU Press. ISBN 978-0-8093-8880-6. Retrieved 2013-06-13.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Simon, John (1990-08-06). "Plugged Nickelodeon". New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. ISSN 0028-7369. Retrieved 2013-06-13.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Smedley, Nicholas (January 2011). A Divided World: Hollywood Cinema and Émigré Directors in the Era of Roosevelt and Hitler, 1933-1948. Intellect Books. p. 167. ISBN 978-1-84150-402-5. Retrieved 2013-06-13.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Youngkin, Stephen D. (2005-09-30). The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-3700-1. Retrieved 2013-06-13.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links