Irrestisible charm and talent helps Serge Alexandre alias Stavisky, small-time swindler, to make friends with even most influential members of French industrial and political elite during ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
François Périer ...
Albert Borelli
Docteur Mézy
Roberto Bisacco ...
Juan Montalvo de Montalbon
Inspecteur Bonny
Le baron Jean Raoul
Pierre Vernier ...
Me Pierre Grammont
Marcel Cuvelier ...
Inspecteur Boussaud
Van Doude ...
Inspecteur principal Gardet
Jacques Spiesser ...
Michel Grandville
Michel Beaune ...
Le journaliste maître-chanteur
Maurice Jacquemont ...
Silvia Badescu ...
Erna Wolfgang
Jacques Eyser ...


Irrestisible charm and talent helps Serge Alexandre alias Stavisky, small-time swindler, to make friends with even most influential members of French industrial and political elite during the early 30s. But nothing lasts forever and when his great scam involving hundreds millions of francs gets exposed result is an unprecedented scandal that almost caused a civil war. Written by Dragan Antulov <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama


PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

15 May 1974 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Biarritz-Bonheur  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


On February 7, 1934, the French Ministry of the Interior and the Paris Police Prefecture banned the showing of newsreel footage of the previous day's mêlée by right-wing royalists, war veterans and members of the anti-semitic, nationalist, anti-republican Action Francaise movement, who rioted to bring down the Daladier government over the Stavisky affair. The riots left 17 dead and 116 wounded. One Parisian cinema, Reginald Ford's Cineac Theatre, defied the censorship to show footage of the riots by the reactionary forces, which had been caught on-camera by French and foreign newsreel photographers. See more »


Serge Alexandre Stavisky: Tomorrow morning, I'll hold a press conference. I'm going to blow the whole mess wide open!
See more »


Referenced in Workers for the Good Lord (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

"You have to dream of him and imagine his dreams."
27 March 2004 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Best known for the beautifully framed but now almost comically elusive and incomprehensible Last Year at Marienbad, Stavisky is one of Alain Resnais' most accessible films and one where he manages to marry style and narrative structure to his subject perfectly. While it helps to have some grounding in the disastrous pre-WW2 financial scandal his anti-hero precipitated to get the most out of the film, his approach is particularly well-judged.

For much of the movie we meet Stavisky, financier and con-man, at the height of his powers and the film concentrates both on his style and extravagance - he passionately believes that you have to be seen to lose money on frivolities to make money - and his play-acting - he is even seen reading a part onstage opposite an auditioning actress. Stavisky is a constant contradiction, a man who spends money to be remembered when he would be better spending it to be forgotten, whose need to be loved for the moment makes him unable to deal with oncoming disasters when they can still be averted. As Michel Lonsdale's doctor notes, "To understand Stavisky sometimes you have to forget files. You have to dream of him and to imagine his dreams." Stavisky remains an enigma simply because he is so simple - there is no real secret to him. Like his fortune, he simply invents himself.

Jean-Paul Belmondo is superb in the lead, at once at home in luxury and high society but still able to pull a petty swindle over stolen gems, supremely confident and alive in company yet in private haunted by his father's suicide over the dishonor his early arrests bought on the family name that drives him to strive to live purely in the present. He's complimented by Charles Boyer's wonderful final performance as an aristocrat who has happily wasted the fortune his ancestors took generations to amass over the course of his single lifetime and can forgive his friend anything for the joy to be alive that his company brings. The moment his casually anti-semitic right-wing aristocrat discovers that Stavisky is not only not French but a Jew is beautifully observed: he stands by him as a friend, but is disappointed that he was not honest to him, while displaying just a trace of awareness that had Stavisky been honest, he never would have become his friend.

But this is the story of a fall from a great height - indeed, our first view of Stavisky is of him descending in an elevator as Trostsky arrives in France to seek asylum. It is only in the last third that the dominoes start to fall and the real conspiracy starts to emerge. Stavisky is a criminal, a former petty informer who now has somehow managed to reverse roles and now has most of the government and police in his pocket and acting as his informers, but he himself is being used. Not only is he planning to block funds to facilitate the beginning of the Spanish Civil War (to him simply a financial opportunity: he has no conception of the moral consequences of his actions) but his downfall is used to destroy the left in French politics. (It is only here that the initially clumsy device of paralleling Stavisky's fall with Trotsky's brief period of exile in France comes into focus.) Although his end is not shown, it is left clear that he was more pawn than prime mover. Ultimately his fall leaves the left destroyed, the far right in control and only the most innocent imprisoned.

In a film full of pluses, the script is superb, Resnais' use of the camera impeccable and there's even a good score from Stephen Sondheim. The only major minus is Resnais' handling of the actresses - more vacant than vital, as is so often the case in his films of this era - and the tendency to turn the left-wing characters into purely walking-talking ideological monologues.

Sadly, the Region 1 Image DVD is a little problematic - aside from it not always being recognised by my player, the transfer is acceptable but not entirely without problems (it appears to be a standards conversion from a PAL master) and none of the few extras (including an audio interview with the camera-shy Resnais) from the StudioCanal disc in France that it has been cloned from have made the leap across the Atlantic. Highly recommended, nonetheless.

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