Micheline Presle obituary

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Many postwar British filmgoers had their notion of French girls formed by seeing such subtle stars as Edwige Feuillère, Danielle Darrieux and Micheline Presle on display screen within the Forties.

Presle, who has died aged 101, specialised in taking part in “the older girl”, beginning whereas nonetheless solely in her 20s with Claude Autant-Lara’s Le Diable au Corps (The Satan within the Flesh, 1947), by which a younger spouse has an affair with a schoolboy (Gérard Philipe). The movie of Raymond Radiguet’s precocious semi-autobiographical novel brought on outrage in some quarters for its sympathetic portrayal of lovers cuckolding a soldier away at battle; in it Presle hinted at a breaking coronary heart beneath the glittering floor of a lady of the world.

In Jean Delannoy’s Les Jeux Sont Faits (The Chips Are Down, 1947), primarily based on an unique screenplay by Jean-Paul Sartre, Presle performed a lady poisoned by her fascist husband who, within the afterlife, meets and falls in love with a communist killed in an rebellion.

There was one thing in Presle’s performances that satisfied Darryl F Zanuck, head of manufacturing at twentieth Century Fox, to supply her a contract. Nevertheless, as in lots of different circumstances, Hollywood was unsure the best way to deal with its newly imported star. The very first thing Zanuck did was to simplify her title for American audiences by altering it to Micheline Prelle, in case, he claimed, folks thought Presle was pronounced like “pretzel”.

She made two movies for Fox in 1950: Beneath My Pores and skin, by which she was forged as a cabaret singer ready for a crooked jockey (John Garfield) to reform; then she waited for Tyrone Energy to return from defeating Japanese forces in Fritz Lang’s American Guerrilla within the Philippines.

In 1949 Presle had married the American actor/director William Marshall, who had beforehand been married to Michèle Morgan when she was additionally uncomfortably attempting to make a profession in Hollywood. They went on to have a daughter, Tonie. Marshall directed his new spouse reverse a fading Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Captain Fabian (1951), a lame sea journey, filmed in France the place Presle remained, admitting that her “two years in Hollywood have been two years too lengthy”.

Micheline Presle and Fernand Gravey in Paradis Perdu, 1939

Born in Paris, she was the daughter of Julie (nee Bachelier), an artist, and Robert Chassagne, a businessman. Micheline took appearing classes whereas nonetheless at college, and made her display screen debut uncredited in La Fessée (The Spanking, 1937), then appeared underneath the title Micheline Michel within the Charles Trenet musical Je Chante (1938).

A yr later, showing for the primary time as Micheline Presle, she was given the lead in GW Pabst’s Jeunes Filles en Détresse (Younger Ladies in Bother). Thereafter, Presle would work with many of the greatest French administrators of the day. For Abel Gance, she performed each a mom who dies within the battle and her daughter, within the wildly melodramatic Paradis Perdu (Paradise Misplaced, 1939).

In Marcel L’Herbier’s La Nuit Fantastique (1942), Presle was alluring as a mysterious girl in white whom a scholar (Fernand Gravey) regularly goals about. He and he or she have a collection of unbelievable nocturnal adventures, a few of which can be actual. Presle continued to work through the wartime occupation of France, making various lighthearted romances. It was solely after the liberation that she was capable of show her dramatic abilities to the complete.

In Falbalas (Paris Frills, 1944), Jacques Becker’s withering have a look at the world of high fashion, Presle was a celebrated couturier who falls in love together with her fiance’s greatest buddy, performed by Raymond Rouleau. Boule de Suif (1945), directed by Christian-Jaque, and primarily based on a narrative by Man de Maupassant, noticed her give a dignified efficiency as Elizabeth Rousset, an exploited and shunned intercourse employee through the Franco-Prussian battle. The movie had a robust impression on the time due to its unmistakable resonances of the battle and occupation.

After her journey to Hollywood and again, Presle plunged straight into roles extra worthy of her – beginning with the tragic Marguerite Gauthier in La Dame aux Camélias (1953), directed by the veteran Raymond Bernard. She had cameos in two of Sacha Guitry’s witty all-star extravaganzas, as Madame de Pompadour in Si Versailles m’Était Conté (Royal Affairs in Versailles, 1953) and as Hortense de Beauharnais in Napoléon (1954).

As she entered her 40s, Presle tailored to the administrators of the French New Wave. In Philippe de Broca’s bitter-sweet boudoir comedy Infidelity (1961), she performed a rich couturiere retaining the youthful Jean-Pierre Cassel, till he leaves her for Jean Seberg, and he or she appeared in Jacques Demy’s Lust episode from The Seven Lethal Sins (1962).

She briefly returned to Hollywood when she performed Sandra Dee’s mom, an ex-Folies Bergère refrain lady, in If A Man Solutions (1962), and was a Nobel prize candidate in The Prize (1963), which starred Paul Newman.

Again in France, she had a job in Jacques Rivette’s controversial La Religieuse (The Nun, 1966), was Madame Eglantine in De Broca’s King of Hearts (1966) and the Purple Queen in Demy’s fairytale Donkey Pores and skin (1970).

Presle continued to work each in options and tv into her 80s, showing notably reverse Gérard Depardieu because the aged Madame de Saint-Méran within the TV miniseries The Depend of Monte Cristo (1998), and in Venus Magnificence (1999), a movie revolving round a Paris magnificence salon, which received a César award for its director, Presle’s daughter, Tonie.

Her marriage to Marshall led to divorce. An earlier marriage, in 1945 to the tennis participant Michel Lefort, had additionally led to divorce, in 1949. Tonie died in 2020.

Micheline Presle (Micheline Nicole Julia Émilienne Chassagne), actor, born 22 August 1922; died 21 February 2024

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