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Elena and Her Men (1956)
"Elena et les hommes" (original title)

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Polish countess Elena falls in love to a Frensh radical party's candidate, a general, in pre world war I Paris, but another officer pines for her.



(scenario & adaptation and dialogue), (adaptation)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Elena Sokorowska
Général François Rollan
Le comte Henri de Chevincourt
Jean Richard ...
Juliette Gréco ...
Miarka, la gitane (as Juliette Greco)
Pierre Bertin ...
Dora Doll ...
Rosa la Rose
Frédéric Duvallès ...
Renaud Mary ...
Jacques Morel ...
Albert Rémy ...
Jean Claudio ...
Lionel Villaret
Mirko Ellis ...
Jacques Hilling ...
Jacques Jouanneau ...
Eugène Martin-Michaud


Polish countess Elena falls in love to a Frensh radical party's candidate, a general, in pre world war I Paris, but another officer pines for her. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Only Thing Gayer Than April in Paris is Bergman in Paris!


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

31 December 1956 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Elena and Her Men  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)


See  »

Did You Know?


Audrey Hepburn did not want to be separated from her husband 'Mel Ferrer' while she was making Funny Face (1957), so filming of the Paris scenes in that film were timed to coincide with Ferrer's filming for this film. See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits are a newspaper wedding announcement for the film's characters which includes the actors' names in parenthesis. See more »


Referenced in Ingrid (1984) See more »


La casquette du père Bugeaud
(traditional military song, 1846)
See more »

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User Reviews

One of Modern French History's Great "If's"
25 April 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I have only seen this silly film once on television, somewhere around 1979 or so. It was, naturally, with English dubbing, not sub-titles. In the years since, I have confused it's title with another silly film, PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES (there seems a curse on films beginning with "PARIS", all of which are silly or expensive failures - add to these two PARIS HOLIDAY, TO PARIS WITH LOVE, and IS PARIS BURNING?). This one, though, does have a few things going for it - it was directed by Jean Renoir, it stars Jean Marais and Ingrid Bergman, and it deals (albeit in a farcical manner) with one of the great "ifs" of modern French history: what would have happened in 1889 to France (and Europe) had General Georges Boulanger (the man on horseback of the day) seized the moment and completed a planned coup

  • d'etat of the Third Republic. For that is precisely what the

underpinnings of this comedy is about. Boulanger's name is changed to General Roland, but it is the same story.

In the English version, Roland's adjutant (Mel Ferrer) is telling the story
  • and giving a sardonic account of how the naive patriot is primed to seize

the country by a band of cartoon conspirators who use the General's fascination with a Polish countess (Bergman) as a lure. Renoir tries to get as much milage as he can out of the political shenanigans, and the fin-de-siec Paris setting, as he can. Both Marais and Bergman try hard to make what they can out of the frou-frou atmosphere of the film. But although both are good (so is Ferrer and Juliet Greco as a gypsy who loves the General)the screenplay is weak. The motivation of Bergman is highly self-centered (she is attracted to the idea of being the beloved muse to great men, and then leaving them when she feels they no longer need them). It might be good for a minor character, but it is hard for an audience to sustain interest in such a flighty idiot.

It would have been better if they had stuck closer to the historical reality (and ultimate tragedy) of Boulanger's hour of historical importance. France was recovering from the humiliation of defeat in 1870, but the Third Republic was born with grave weaknesses: it signed the treaty of peace ceding Alsace-Lorraine to Germany, it had okayed the extermination of the Communards in Paris in 1871, and it lacked the legitimacy of French government. But its opponents were weak too - the defeat in 1870 was due to the Bonapartiste regime of Napoleon III. He had fled (and was dead in 1873). His son, the Prince Imperiale, died fighting for the British in the Zulu War in 1879. Most of the French, had they a choice of the Third Republic or Second Empire would have chosen the Second Empire, but without Napoleon III or his son they were not too interested in restoring the Bourbons or the house of Orleans. These two families had (by 1877) seemed prepared to compromise their rival feelings, and accept the restoration of the monarchy. The Bourbon pretender, the Comte de Paris, was childless, and would be restored, leaving his cousin, the Duc de Orleans as heir. The first President of the Third Republic, Marshal MacMahon, was ready to order the army to assist the Comte ascend the throne. But the Comte refused the deal unless the national flag reverted from the Revolutionary tri-color to the old Fleur-de-lys of the pre-1789 Bourbons. This was not acceptable. The Comte died in 1883. By then MacMahon had been eased into resigning the Presidency, and the Third Republic continued stumbling on and on.

One of the few generals who had not been damaged by the disasters of the Franco-Prussian War was Georges Boulanger. He was an above average commander, and he actually did do some innovation. By 1887 he was attracting attention, and was elected to the Chambre of Deputies, and became Minister of War. At some point, he began to be approached by the Royalists in France. He had the choice of the Orleanists or the Bonapartistes. He remained vague about his view on whom he'd support, but this may have been his way of guaranteeing that he would be supported by both groups (with Boulanger it is hard to know if he was a brilliant opportunist or just a lucky fool for awhile). He catered to the Paris and French desire for revenge by speaking out against German acts of aggression or of spying - talking about the future war to regain the lost provinces. Initially he had the support of the Republicans, but this was slowly lost as their suspicions of the man grew. Clemenceau, sick of his one-time friend's antics, confronted him on one occasion with a bitter reminder: "General, at your age Napoleon I was dead!"

Despite being thrown out of his cabinet rank, and his seat in the Chambre (he got reelected soon after from another district) Boulanger went on. Then, in September 1889 events climaxed with a series of pro-Boulanger desplays by the army and various supporters. It looked like the General was going to lead the troops onto the Chambre of Deputies or the Elysee Palace and seize control. The moment arrived....and passed. Nothing happened. The leaders of the Republic regained their nerve, and ordered his arrest. He fled, with his mistress. In fact, rumour had it that he wasted the critical hours having sex with the mistress [a rumour that has never been totally dismissed]. He spent the remaining two years of his life in exile in Belgium. His mistress died there, and in 1891 Boulanger committed suicide on her grave. Clemenceau, upon hearing the news, summarized the tragedy appropriately (if cruelly): "The General lived as he died, as a subaltern" [The lowest rank in the French army - and one where the young officers have cheap prostitutes for lovers.]

In the English version of the film, Ferrer is gentler, suggesting that had Boulanger/Roland done what he was expected to do his biographical standing would be as large as Napoleon I's. Probably true. The film does show Roland leaving with his gypsy lover, not going into the sad death that awaited them soon after. To a viewer in the know it is a bittersweet ending. But a better version of the story remains to be done - and to try to come to grips with the General who held France, briefly perhaps, in his hands, and then dropped everything in so inexplicably a manner.

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