Guitry, Sacha

(1885-1957)
   Actor, director, producer, and screen-writer. Born Alexandre Guitry in Moscow in 1885, Sacha Guitry was the son of the renowned French stage actor Lucien Guitry and Renée de Pontry, an actress. Like his parents, Guitry had a passion for the theater. He acted from childhood, began writing plays in his teens, and produced and staged plays starting in 1918. Over the course of his life, he wrote 124 plays, along with a number of other works, including newspaper articles, poems, essays, and of course, screen-plays. Guitry's first love was the theater, and it was as a writer of theater that he was introduced to the screen, when, in 1917, he was asked to write the screenplay for René Hervil and Louis Mercanton's silent film, Un roman d'amour et d'aventures (1918). The film starred Yvonne Printemps, who would become Guitry's second wife.
   Guitry ultimately wrote more than fifty screenplays. In addition to writing the screenplays for all of his own thirty-four films, he wrote the screenplays for such films as Léonce Perret's Les Deux couverts (1935), Pierre Caron's L'Accroche coeur (1938), and Fernandel's Adhémar ou le jouet de la fatalité (1951).
   Guitry began directing films in 1935, when he codirected Pasteur with Fernand Rivers. The film, a biopic, was an adaptation of a play that Guitry's father had made famous. In many ways, this film was a harbinger of the type of film Guitry went on to make. An intellectual in every sense of the word, Guitry was fascinated with history, and many of his films are biopics, historical films, or historically inspired dramas of one sort or another. These include films such as Les Perles de la couronne (1937), codirected with Christian-Jacque, Remontons les Champs-Elysées (1938), Le Destin fabuleux de Désirée Clary (1942), Le Diable boiteux (1948), Si Versailles m'était conté (1954), Si Paris nous était conté (1955), Napoléon (1955), and Assassins et voleurs (1957).
   The other dominant type in Guitry's filmmaking is a type of light, pure entertainment film. One of the first examples of this is another film that was codirected with Rivers, Bonne Chance (1935). Other well-known examples of this type of film include Le Nouveau testament (1936),Mon père avait raison (1936), Le Roman d'un tricheur (1936), Faisons un rêve (1937), Quadrille (1938), and Ils étaient neuf célibataires (1939). Guitry played leading roles in all of his films, as did his various wives, ranging from Printemps to Jacqueline Delubac, to Geneviève de Sérérville to Lana Marconi. Guitry was famous for his wit, which, at times, could be quite biting. In his filmmaking, a bit of this shows through, such that even films that seem, on the surface, to be fairly light and entertaining, often have a sharper edge to them, unmasking aspects of society that people generally prefer to keep hidden and forcing the audience to confront what might be some uncomfortable truths. Some examples of films that can be viewed in this light are Ils étaient neuf célibataires (1939), La Poison (1951), and La Vie d'un honnête homme (1958).
   During his lifetime, Guitry's work was often ridiculed. He was reproached for his interest in history, his satiric realism, and his eclectic style, which incorporated everything from standard historical epic to the skit film. In fact, François Truffaut once famously quipped that Guitry's most egregious fault, in the eyes of his critics, was that he lived. Truffaut's defense of Guitry should make it clear why Guitry's work has lately been reevaluated. Truffaut and other members of the Nouvelle Vague or New Wave, seem to have been interested in Guitry's filmmaking, and as an independent, he clearly stood apart from the filmmaking tradition that they, themselves, sought to break with. As film has evolved since the New Wave, scholars, filmmakers, and filmophiles have also had a chance to revisit Guitry's work and to rethink it. Like Max Ophuls, who was his contemporary, Guitry may have been a bit ahead of his time, and it may be that an audience familiar with the films of the New Wave, postmodernism, and the Cinéma du look can better appreciate Guitry's films than those contemporary critics who so disdained them.
   Historical Dictionary of French Cinema by Dayna Oscherwitz & Mary Ellen Higgins

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Guitry, Sacha — born Feb. 21, 1885, St. Petersburg, Russia died July 24, 1957, Paris, France Russian born French actor and dramatist. Son of the French actor Lucien Guitry (1860–1925), he appeared on the Russian stage with his father s company. At age 21 he… …   Universalium

  • Guitry, Sacha — (1885 1957)    Actor, director, producer, and screen writer. Born Alexandre Guitry in Moscow in 1885, Sacha Guitry was the son of the renowned French stage actor Lucien Guitry and Renée de Pontry, an actress. Like his parents, Guitry had a… …   Historical Dictionary of French Cinema

  • Guitry, Sacha — (Alexandre Georges Guitry /    February 21, 1885, St. Petersburg, Russia July 24, 1957, Paris, France)    The son of the great actor Lucien Guitry (1860 1925), he had a mediocre schooling. In 1899, he made his stage debut under the pseudonym of… …   Encyclopedia of French film directors

  • Guitry, Sacha — (1888 1957)    actor, playwright, filmmaker    A leading figure of the French stage and screen, Sacha Guitry, who was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was the son of the actor Lucien Guitry. He composed, between 1901 and 1935, more than 130… …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Guitry, Sacha — • ГИТРИ (Guitry) Саша (21.2.1885 24.7.1957)    франц. актёр, режиссёр, драматург, сценарист. С пяти лет на сцене, (с 1914 в труппе своего отца. Автор мн. п пьес и оперетт, к рые сам ставил, играл в них и значит, часть экранизировал. Впервые… …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Guitry, Sacha — ► (1885 1957) Actor y autor dramático ruso. Obras: Solo para hombres y Vivamos un sueño, entre otras. * * * (21 feb. 1885, San Petersburgo, Rusia–24 jul. 1957, París, Francia). Actor y dramaturgo francés nacido en Rusia. Fue hijo del actor… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Guitry, Sacha — soprannome di Guitry, Alexandre …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Guitry — Guitry, Sacha …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Sacha guitry — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Guitry (homonymie). Sacha Guitry, de son nom complet Alexandre Georges Pierre Guitry est un comédien, dramaturge, metteur en scène de théâtre, réalisateur et scénariste de cinéma, né le 21 février 1885 à Saint… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sacha Guitry — [[File: Guitry and Yvonne Printemps in 1922 |frameless|alt=]] Born …   Wikipedia

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