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The Pearls of the Crown (1937)

Les perles de la couronne (original title)
Three narrators (French writer Jean Martin, an English royal equerry, and a papal chamberlain) tell the story of seven matched pearls, four of them now in the British Crown. Episodes whirl ... See full summary »



(screenplay) (as L'Auteur), (screenplay)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jacqueline Delubac ...
Jean Martin / François Ier / Barras / Napoléon III
L'officier du roi (English narrator) / Le roi Henry VIII
Renée Saint-Cyr ...
Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne
Enrico Glori ...
La camérier du pape (Italian narrator)
Ermete Zacconi ...
Barbara Shaw ...
Marguerite Moreno ...
Catherine de Medicis (1860) / L'impératrice Eugénie âgée (1914)
La reine d'Abyssinie
Le ministre d'Abyssinie (as Dalio)
Le prisonnier italien en Abyssinie
Robert Seller ...
Le prisonnier français en Abyssinie
Ponzio ...
Un ouvrier chantant
Andrews Engelmann ...
James - le voleur (as Engelman)
Yvette Pienne ...
La reine Marie Tudor / La reine Elizabeth I / La reine Victoria âgée


Three narrators (French writer Jean Martin, an English royal equerry, and a papal chamberlain) tell the story of seven matched pearls, four of them now in the British Crown. Episodes whirl us from Pope Clement VII to Mary Queen of Scots, from whom the pearls are stolen while she's occupied with the headsman. Historic events are seasoned with sly, satiric humor, and famous beauties are portrayed by stunning actresses. Then the narrators meet, and decide to try tracing the three unrecovered pearls from 1587 to the present... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | History





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Release Date:

11 April 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sacha Guitry's The Pearls of the Crown (Les perles de la couronne)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film was first telecast on New York City's pioneer television station W2XBS Friday 2 August 1939. It is one of over 200 titles in the list of independent feature films made available for television presentation by Advance Television Pictures announced in Motion Picture Herald 4 April 1942. At this time, television broadcasting was in its infancy, almost totally curtailed by the advent of World War II, and would not continue to develop until 1945-1946. See more »

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User Reviews

A pearl on Guitry's crown
27 February 2007 | by See all my reviews

Do you know who the granddaddy of the Monty Python was?Sacha Guitry is a serious contender."Les Perles de la couronne" was his biggest commercial success and it's still much fun to watch it today.

It was the first of the "historical" movies of the artist: "Si Paris m'était Conté " "Si Versailles m'était Conté " "En Remontant les Champs-Elysées " were to follow.

Guitry was French wit at its best .Only Henri Jeanson could write as good as he could .His is not a vitriolic style like his peer Jeanson,but a sense of humor completely mad which verges on absurd.

Tell me who could put in a two-hour movie FRancois Premier and Henry the Eighth,Mary Stuart and Catherine de Medicis,Henry the Fourth and the popes,Napoleon and JOsephine,Napoleon the Third and Eugenie de Montijo ,the queen of Abyssinia and Elizabeth the First, Madame du Barry and the Sans-Culottes ,a cuckold and a courtesan, three thieves ,one of them being good at maths and logic,Virgin Mary in the flesh (two divine interventions),and more and more and more....??? Madness is everywhere and critic George Sadoul who would dismiss Guitry as "filmed stage production maker" and "as a man contemplating his navel ,if he were here today,should see his objections swept away in a deluge of joyful film making ,which only the snobs will not hear and only the deaf and the blind will not acknowledge.

The extraordinary quality of the screenplay -which is very complicated ,Guitry really invented here the Film à Tiroirs- is one of simple happiness.You should see Ann Boleyn(sic) teach King François's son the indicative present of the verb "to have" (and the obsolete form "thou hast" )."I need an English teacher too,the king says ,would you be my mistress?".This is a film that should be watched in French with English subtitles to enjoy the word games the puns and the gags which show at every minute .

About King Henry the Eighth:"He protested ,he protested ,he protested so much that he became a Protestant!".

The film is marvelously constructed;Sheherazade could not do better even if she tried her best: Once there was a pope who wanted to get rid of his dear niece Catherine's gallant .He had two invaluable pearls so he asked the young man for five more pearls which he would find around the world: around the world in eighty days or more.The Queen of Abyssinia sequence alone is worth the price of admission.Arletty ,with soot or paint smeared all over her face ,can only speak Abyssinian! So it takes three interprets (English,Italian,French ) to translate the sovereign's mumbo jumbo! When the lad came back,the seven pearls were given as a wedding present to Catherine de Medicis.Four pearls ,through the years ,were preserved,but three of them were stolen.Guitry goes backwards and forwards between the present and the past,with absolute virtuosity.And he even manages to make a "poetic" ending : the last pearl gets back to where it once belonged in a way...

Vive Sacha Guitry!

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