Micheline Presle (French pronunciation: [miʃlin pʁɛːl]; born Micheline Nicole Julia Émilienne Chassagne; 22 August 1922 – 21 February 2024) was a French actress.[1] She was sometimes billed as Micheline Prelle.[1][2][3][4][5][6] Starting her career in 1937, she starred or appeared in over 150 films appearing first in productions in her native France and also in Hollywood during the era of Classical Hollywood Cinema, before returning again to Europe,[1] especially French films from the mid-1960s until 2014.[1][5][6]

Micheline Presle
Presle in 1945
Micheline Nicole Julia Émilienne Chassagne

(1922-08-22)22 August 1922
Died21 February 2024(2024-02-21) (aged 101)
Other namesMicheline Prelle
Years active1937–2014
(m. 1950; div. 1954)
ChildrenTonie Marshall
RelativesSarah Marshall (great-grandniece)

Biography edit

Early life edit

Born in Paris on the left bank on 22 August 1922,[1][7] Presle wanted to be an actress from an early age. She took acting classes in her early teens. She was the daughter of Robert Chassagne, a French banker (who fled to the United States amid a finance scandal) and artist Julie Bachelier.[1]

She received early education in a convent school, but took acting classes with the Belgian actor Raymond Rouleau. She reprised the relationship by appearing with him in Falbalas, a/k/a Paris Frills (1945).[1]

Early French cinema (1937–1950) edit

Presle made her film debut at the age of 15 in the 1937 production of La Fessée.[1] In 1938, she was awarded the Prix Suzanne Bianchetti as the most promising young actress in French cinema. Her rise to European stardom, in films such as Devil in the Flesh (1947),[1][5] led to offers in Hollywood.[1][5]

"Exquisite good looks" coupled with a "graceful transition between froth and drama" facilitated her long career, with more than 200 credited roles.[5]

Hollywood cinema edit

Her role in the Devil in the Flesh led to a Hollywood career, including leading roles opposite Errol Flynn, John Garfield, Paul Newman and Tyrone Power.[2] That film was controversial, even being banned in Britain for years.[3]

In 1950, Presle was signed by 20th Century Fox, led by Darryl F. Zanuck. He promised she "could avoid "ooh-la-la" eye-candy roles" with spare time so she could make a biopic about Sarah Bernhardt, a project to which she had obtained the film rights for a biography written by Bernhardt's granddaughter.[5] However, Hollywood's promise soon dimmed. Zanuck changed Presle's last name to Prell, thinking to his American ear that her name was a homonym for 'pretzel.'[5][8] It was later changed to Prelle after a soap company brought out Prell shampoo.[9] Her first Hollywood production was a starring role opposite John Garfield in the film Under My Skin directed by Jean Negulesco. That same year, director Fritz Lang cast her opposite Tyrone Power in the war drama American Guerrilla in the Philippines. In 1950, she became the second wife of American actor William Marshall with whom she had a daughter, Tonie. William Marshall had teamed up with actor Errol Flynn and his production company, and in 1951 he directed Flynn and her in the film Adventures of Captain Fabian.[1]

Disenchanted with Hollywood, since "They gave me uninteresting parts in bad pictures," she went back to work in European film.[5]

In 1945, she married tennis player Michel Lefort.[1] She married William Marshall, an American actor and band leader.[1] She returned to France, divorcing Marshall in 1954. Her career flourished in French films, and in 1957, she was a guest on the American Ed Sullivan Show. In 1959, she performed in the United Kingdom English-language production of Blind Date directed by Joseph Losey.[1] She returned to Hollywood in 1962 for the role of Sandra Dee's mother in the Universal Studios film If a Man Answers, which also featured Dee's husband, singer Bobby Darin. The following year, Presle acted again in English in The Prize starring Paul Newman.[1]

Return to French cinema edit

Presle at the 2004 César Awards

Presle did not make another English film, but after performing in more than 50 films in French, in 1989, she appeared in the French-made bilingual production I Want to Go Home, for which she was nominated for the César Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.[1][2]

In 1971, Presle signed the Manifesto of the 343, publicly declaring she had had an illegal abortion.[1][10]

She received an Honorary César in 2004.[2]

Tonie Marshall, her daughter, won a César for Venus Beauty Institute in which Presle appeared.[1][2]

Death edit

Presle died in Nogent-sur-Marne on 21 February 2024, at the age of 101,[1][2][5][11] at the Maison des Artistes, a retirement home for artists, which receives partial government support.[3] Her death was confirmed by Olivier Bomsel, her son-in-law, without specifying the cause.[5]

Filmography (selected) edit

A more complete list has been compiled by the British Film Institute with 133 works.[A]

Title Year References/Note
Girls in Distress a/k/a Young Girls in Trouble 1939 [1][13][14]
They Were Twelve Women 1940 [15]
Paradise Lost 1940 [15]
Comedy of Happiness 1940 [16]
Ecco la felicità 1940 [16]
They Were Twelve Women 1940 [15]
Parade en sept nuits 1941 [17]
Foolish Husbands 1941 [18][19]
Le soleil a toujours raison 1941 [20]
La Nuit fantastique Fantasic Night 1942 As a "Dream woman" opposite Fernand Gravey[5][21]
The Beautiful Adventure 1942 [22] However it was not released until after the Liberation of France due to the ban on the films of Claude Dauphin after he joined the Free French.[23]
Un seul amour [fr] 1943 An adaptation from a story by Honoré de Balzac about a ballet-star, Clara Biondi, played by Presle.[24]
Paris Frills 1945 [1] Film critic Manny Farber in The New Republic, 16 December 1946, wrote: "This is the only movie I have ever seen in which a posturing, narcissistic personality is shown in the full run of everyday situations and is handled with a matter-of-fact understanding that makes it into a sad, creative, extremely curious and complicated character."[25]
Twilight 1945 Original Title: Felicie Nanteuil[26]
Fausse alerte The French Way 1945 [1952] in United States) Spy story. "[S]helved during the war ... (a shortened version was released with the title The French Way in 1952 in the United States). The film revolves around a long-standing feud...."[27]
Boule de suif Angel and Sinner 1945 She palayed the eponymous lead, a loveable prositute and member of the resistance.[1][5] The film was released in the autumn of 1945, and was the first French film incorporating the theme of resistance. It is an adaptation of two short stories by Guy de Maupassant Boule de suif and Mademoiselle Fifi, which are inter-weaved, and is set during the Franco-Prussian War. A reviewer in Britain noted its "sense of humour, drama, satire and technical skill".[28]
Les jeux sont faits 1946 French fantasy film directed by Jean Delannoy, based on the screenplay of the same name by French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Entered into the 1947 Cannes Film Festival.[29]
Devil in the Flesh 1947 World war I drama, voted one of 10 best films of the year by the National Board of Review.[1][2]
All Roads Lead to Rome 1949 [30][31]
The Last Days of Pompeii The Sins of Pompeii 1950 Adapted from Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel The Last Days of Pompeii. The film has also been known as Sins of Pompeii.[32][33][34]
Under My Skin 1950 Cast as a cafe owner smitten by love with a jockey.[1][2]
American Guerrilla in the Philippines 1950 Early Technicolor war film.[1][2]
Adventures of Captain Fabian 1951 [2] It was to be produced independently with a distributor sought later.[35] Micheline Presle was borrowed from 20th Century Fox to play the female lead.[36]
The Lady of the Camellias 1953 [37][38]
It Happened in the Park 1953 [39][40][41]
The Love of a Woman 1953 [15]
Les Impures 1954 [42]
House of Ricordi 1954 [43]
Napoléon 1955 [44]
Thirteen at the Table 1955 [45]
Beatrice Cenci 1956 [46]
The Bride Is Much Too Beautiful 1956 [1]
The She-Wolves 1957 [47][48][49][50]
Christine 1958 [51]
Blind Date 1959 [52]
Une fille pour l'été [fr] Mistress for the Summer 1960 [53][54]
Le Baron de l'écluse [fr] The Baron of the Locks 1960 [55]
Mistress of the World 1960 science-fiction spy film remake of the 1919 eight-part silent film The Mistress of the World directed by William Dieterle and starring Martha Hyer and Carlos Thompson.[56] It marked the comeback in his native country of the director William Dieterle after several decades spent in Hollywood.[57] In West Germany, it was released in a longer version split in two parts (Die Herrin der Welt – Teil I and Die Herrin der Welt – Teil II). It was developed when producer Artur Brauner invested in a three-hour West German-French-Italian co-production.[58] Brauner contracted William Dieterle to direct the film.[59] The film was made with a predominantly German crew, but with a multi-national cast including Martha Hyer and Sabu from Hollywood, Carlos Thompson from Argentina and Gino Cervi from Italy, and Micheline Presle and Lino Ventura from France.[59]
Les Grandes Personnes 1961 [60]
Five Day Lover 1961 Based on the 1959 novel L'amant de cinq jours by Françoise Parturier. The film was entered into the 11th Berlin International Film Festival and nominated for the Golden Bear.[61][62]

The film was entered into the 11th Berlin International Film Festival and nominated for the Golden Bear, the ceremony's highest honor.[61] It lost the prize to Michelangelo Antonioni's La Notte.[63]

The Assassin 1961 [64]
Time Out for Love Les grandes personnes 1961 [65][66][67]
The Italian Brigands 1961 Internationally released as The Italian Brigands and Seduction of the South) is a 1962 Italian comedy- drama film directed by Mario Camerini.[68] It was shot in Cerreto Sannita.[69]
Le Diable et les Dix Commandements 1962 [70]
If a Man Answers 1962 Opposite Bobby Darin.[2]
Venere Imperiale Imperial Venus 1962 It depicts the life of Pauline Bonaparte, the sister of Napoleon.[71][72] For her performance Lollobrigida won the David di Donatello for best actress and the Nastro d'Argento for the same category.[73]
The Law of Men 1962 [74]
The Bamboo Stroke 1963 [75]
The Prize 1963 Amidst a Nobel Prize ceremony, spy drama with Paul Newman.[1][2]
Dark Purpose 1964 [76]
Male Hunt 1964 [2]
Je vous salue, mafia! Hail Mafia 1965 From a crime novel.[77] It is a film noir.[78]
Le Roi de Cœur King of Hearts 1966 [79]

Released in France in 1966, King of Hearts was neither successful critically nor at the box office, with only 141,035 admissions.[80] However, it achieved cult film status, when United States distribution rights were picked up by Randy Finley and Specialty Films in Seattle in 1973. It was paired with Marv Newland's Bambi Meets Godzilla and John Magnuson's Thank You Mask Man and marketed under the heading The King of Hearts and His Loyal Short Subjects.[81][82] It made the rounds in the mid-1970s i repertory movie theaters as well as non-theatrical college and university film series across the United States, eventually running for five years at the now defunct film house the Central Square Cinemas[83] (2 screens) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[84]

Peau d'Âne a/k/a Donkey Skin or Once Upon a Time and The Magic Donkey 1970 A 1970 French musical fantasy comedy film directed by Jacques Demy, based on Donkeyskin, a 1695 fairy tale by Charles Perrault about a king who wishes to marry his own daughter. It was highly successful in France.[85]

It is distributed on DVD in North America by Koch-Lorber Films. It is also available in Blu-ray format as part of Criterion's The Essential Jacques Demy collection.[86] In France, the film is considered a cult classic.[87][88][89][90][91][92]

The Legend of Frenchie King Petroleum Girls 1971 [2] 1971 French, Spanish, Italian and British international co-production western comedy film directed by Christian-Jaque and starring Claudia Cardinale and Brigitte Bardot.[93] The film received generally negative reviews. Bardot's performance in particular was criticised by Jean Loup Passek, who noted how uncomfortable she seemed in the film's outdoors action setting.[94] Writing in Variety Gene Moskowitz dismissed the film as "predictable, naive and gauche" whilst Tom Milne called it "drearily unfunny".[95]
Devil in the Brain 1972 A 1972 Italian psychological thriller movie.[96][97]
Thieves After Dark 1984 directed by Samuel Fuller[2]
I Want to Go Home 1989 Directed by Alain Renais, and for which she received a César nomination[2]
Fanfan 1993 [98][99]
Les Misérables 1995 [1]
Venus Beauty Institute 1999 [1][2]
Le coeur à l'ouvrage 2000 [100][101]
A Man and His Dog 2009 [102]
Going South 2009 [103]
Thelma, Louise et Chantal 2010 [104]
HH, Hitler à Hollywood [fr] 2011 A mockumentary.[105]

Television edit

References edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ The British Film Institute lists her filmography as including 133 works.[12]

Citations edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Telegraph Obituaries (23 February 2024). "Micheline Presle, French actress who starred in Hollywood with Errol Flynn and Paul Newman – obituary". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 25 February 2024. Retrieved 25 February 2024 – via Yahoo!.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Haring, Bruce (24 February 2024). "Micheline Presle Dies: 'Devil In The Flesh' Star Was 101". Deadline. Archived from the original on 23 February 2024. Retrieved 25 February 2024.
  3. ^ a b c Nossiter, Adam (28 February 2024). "Micheline Presle, Actress Known for 'Devil in the Flesh,' Dies at 101". The New York Times. A link to France's first golden age of cinema, she drew international attention for a 1947 film that created a scandal in France and was banned in Britain for years.
  4. ^ Grissom, Candace Ursula (2014). Fitzgerald and Hemingway on Film: A Critical Study of the Adaptations, 1924–2013. McFarland. p. 143. ISBN 978-1-4766-1454-0.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Bernstein, Adam (22 February 2024). "Micheline Presle, French movie star of 'Devil in the Flesh,' dies at 101". Washington Post. The 1947 drama about wartime adultery became an international sensation and brought her a Hollywood contract
  6. ^ a b Bartlett, Rhett; Barnes, Mike (21 February 2024). "Micheline Presle, 'Devil in the Flesh' Star, Dies at 101". Hollywood Reporter. The French actress made a few films in Hollywood, including 'Under My Skin' with John Garfield and 'The Prize' with Paul Newman.
  7. ^ Cameron, Kate (23 January 1949). "Chides Critic on Ratings". Daily News. New York, New York City. p. 29. Archived from the original on 7 June 2019. Retrieved 5 June 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ Schallert, Edwin (26 March 1949). "Dance Star Wins Acting Role in 'Battleground;' Prell, Widmark Paired". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. p. 9. Archived from the original on 7 June 2019. Retrieved 5 June 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Micheline Prelle Depends on Her Acting Ability, Not Her Beauty". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Missouri, St. Louis. 13 November 1949. p. 66. Archived from the original on 7 June 2019. Retrieved 5 June 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "manifeste des 343". 23 April 2001. Archived from the original on 23 April 2001. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  11. ^ Guyard, Bertrand (21 February 2024). "Micheline Presle, la dernière légende du cinéma s'en est allée". Le Figaro. Archived from the original on 21 February 2024. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  12. ^ BFI Collection Database.
  13. ^ "NY Times: Girls in Distress". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2012. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2009.
  14. ^ Rentschler p.282
  15. ^ a b c d Dayna Oscherwitz & MaryEllen Higgins. (2009) The A to Z of French Cinema. Scarecrow Press.
  16. ^ a b Allan R. Ellenberger (2009) Ramon Novarro: A Biography of the Silent Film Idol, 1899–1968; with a Filmography Archived 25 February 2024 at the Wayback Machine, McFarland, p 143, accessed 23 January 2014
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  25. ^ Farber, Manny. 2009. Farber on Film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber. Edited by Robert Polito. Library of America. ISBN 978-1-59853-050-6 p. 302
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Further reading edit

External links edit