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Ils étaient neuf célibataires (1939)

Fast-thinking Guitry contrives a scheme to earn easy money from rich women with expiring visas by marrying them with clochards and at the same time to win the charms of beautiful Polish ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Jean Lécuyer (as M. Sacha Guitry)
Max Dearly ...
Athanase Outriquet
Elvire Popesco ...
Comtesse Stacia Batchefskaïa
...
Alexandre
André Lefaur ...
Adolphe
...
Adhémar Colombinet de la Jonchère (as Saturnin-Fabre)
Raymond Aimos ...
Agénor (as Aimos)
Gaston Dubosc ...
Antonin Rousselier
Sinoël ...
Amédée
Georges Morton ...
Aristide (as Morton)
Anthony Gildès ...
Anatole (as Gildès)
Gustave Libeau ...
M. Kaequemops (as Libeau)
Marguerite Deval ...
Mme Picaillon de Chéniset
Marguerite Moreno ...
Consuelo Rodriguez
Marguerite Pierry ...
Isabelle Patureau
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Storyline

Fast-thinking Guitry contrives a scheme to earn easy money from rich women with expiring visas by marrying them with clochards and at the same time to win the charms of beautiful Polish countess. Everything seems to go wrong when the clochards, once married with the foreigners, want to comply with their marital duties... Written by <silva@mat.uniroma1.it>

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7 February 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

De negen vrijgezellen  »

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1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
A truffle, a trifle.
1 March 2005 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

I'm trying to think of a British or American film figure whose career is similar to Sacha Guitry's, and the nearest I can get is Preston Sturges ... who was himself quite French-influenced, having spent his formative years in Paris and being a lifelong Francophile.

Guitry was an original. An extremely prolific playwright, working in various forms but favouring naughty farces, he was also an actor and director, often starring in his self-directed plays and films. I'm only slightly familiar with his work, but people who know far more about him than I do have told me that 'Ils Étaient Neuf Célibataires' is his best film. It's certainly a distinctive work, though I found it only sporadically funny.

'They Were Nine Celibates' (as I translate the title) finds Guitry running a matrimonial agency in Paris. Half of his clientele are attractive young foreign ladies who want permanent resident status in France, and are willing to marry total strangers to get it. (Shades of Gérard Depardieu in 'Green Card'.) Each of these ma'mselles is a clearly defined national type. We get an exotic Chinese dancer (played by someone cried Princesse Chio), a strait-laced English Rose, a brassy American chanteuse, and so forth. Conveniently, all of these women are quite good-looking. Even more conveniently (and implausibly), all of these women are well-heeled ... financially, I mean. This last detail makes it hard for me to believe that they have no better alternative than Guitry's matrimonial agency.

The other half of Guity's clientele (the bachelors) are elderly pensioners, all native Frenchmen. It's understood that this is strictly a business arrangement: the husbands give their wives French citizenship in exchange for access to their wives' money. It's agreed that the husbands won't be given access to anything *else* (nudge, wink) of their attractive young wives' assets.

Ostensible hilarity ensues when the elderly husbands (being French, after all) decide they want the physical pleasures of their marriages. Meanwhile, Guitry has picked out the best bride for himself: a Polish countess.

This film has dated badly, and I can't help noticing that it was made in 1939: when people in France -- and in Europe generally -- had more pressing matters to occupy their attentions. I can see why a countess would be eager to get out of Poland in 1939, but why would she move to Paris? It would make more sense for her to reach Le Havre and board a transatlantic steamship.

The most interesting thing about this movie is the sexy ma'mselles ... partly because of their sex appeal, but largely because they represent the French perception of other nationalities. The Englishwoman represents the French stereotype of prim repressed Britons. The brassy chanteuse epitomises the French perception of all extrovert Yanks, and so forth. I'll rate this French trifle 4 out of 10.


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