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Madame (1961)

Madame Sans Gêne (original title)
Catherine, an out-spoken Parisian laundress follows Napoleon's army to the battlefront to be near her Sergeant Lefevre. The couple perform a deed of heroism which abets Napoleon's victory, ... See full summary »

Director:

Christian-Jaque
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sophia Loren ... Catherine Hubscher, dite "Madame Sans-Gêne"
Robert Hossein ... Le sergent François-Joseph Lefebvre
Renaud Mary Renaud Mary ... Fouché
Léa Gray Léa Gray
Gianrico Tedeschi Gianrico Tedeschi ... Roquet
Marina Berti ... Elisa Bonaparte
Enrique Ávila ... Le sergent Fricasse
Carlo Giuffrè ... Jérôme Bonaparte
Fernando Sancho ... Pommier
Bruno Carotenuto Bruno Carotenuto ... Blanchet - un garde
Gabriella Pallotta ... Héloïse
Célina Cély Célina Cély ... Anna dite Ziguette
Analía Gadé ... Caroline Bonaparte (as Annalia Gadé)
Silvia Solar ... Margot
Evelyn Stewart ... (as Ida Galli)
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Storyline

Catherine, an out-spoken Parisian laundress follows Napoleon's army to the battlefront to be near her Sergeant Lefevre. The couple perform a deed of heroism which abets Napoleon's victory, so that after the war the grateful Emperor bestows on the now married couple the title of Duke and Duchess. Catherine squabbles with Napoleon's haughty sisters, scandalizes the nobility with her lack of courtly manners, flirts with the men - and consistently creates havoc as she remains true to her earthy background. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

NOW SEE IT...For the FIRST TIME in the MIRACLE of 70mm PROJECTION AND TECHNICOLOR

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Italy | France | Spain

Language:

French | Italian

Release Date:

13 February 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Madame See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (English dubbed) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Italian censorship visa # 36239 delivered on 9-12-1961. See more »

Goofs

When Lefebvre pierces a hole into the gun powder sacks in the Austrian camp, he does so from above. In the next shot, the hole in the sack is below. When Catherine does the same, this error is repeated. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Llegar a más (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The comedy of war
10 March 2010 | by rooprectSee all my reviews

I haven't read the original play nor have I seen previous adaptations, so I can make no comparisons. But I can tell you, regardless of other versions, that this is a thoroughly enjoyable film with great acting, magnificent sets, witty dialogue and an unusual theme.

First let's talk about the unusual theme. This film is much like the celebrated stories of Guy de Maupassant, using an epic situation as a backdrop and instead telling a very common, human (and humorous) story. In this way, it reduces the epic backdrop to the absurd whilst focusing instead on the importance of individuals in their not-so-epic lives. In other words, this is anti-history. I know I didn't explain that very well, so I'll give you an example instead: Sergio Leone's "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly" is a perfect illustration, set against the American Civil War yet trivializing the war and instead focusing on 3 gunslingers fighting their own private war. Comedy, wit & irony are key in telling an ironic story like this, and "Madame Sans-Gêne" (as well as "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly") pulls it off brilliantly, largely due to the larger-than-life presence of Sophia Loren in the role of Catherine Sans-Gêne.

There's a line early in the film where the revolutionaries are storming the Tuileries Palace, and they pass by Catherine's laundry shop asking her if she'll come along. She laughs and replies, "No thanks, I already stormed the Bastille last week!" and continues with her laundry. This is the kind of Maupassantian humour I described above, and the film is full of it.

Robert Hossein delivers a marvelous performance as Catherine's husband, the handsome yet awkward provincial (a miller's son) who gets swept up in the epic and gets promoted to royalty. I've only seen Hossein in his heroic, swashbuckling roles, so it was a real treat to see him playing the role of a maladroit oaf for once. His goofy expressions, clumsy gait and general goofiness had me in stitches every time. If you're not familiar with Robert Hossein, try to imagine someone like maybe Christopher Walken playing the part of a nerd. That's the comedy I'm talking about.

I give another thumbs up to Julien Bertheau who plays the "little General" himself, Napoleon. His character is a real douchebag, but you love him for it, and you may even gain an appreciation for the infamous egomaniac who was thrust into one of the most absurd situations in history (leading a nation that had just overthrown its monarchy yet was all too eager to re-create the same monarchy, only with different faces).

I don't think you need to be a student of French history to appreciate this film. It tells a timeless story of the silliness of government, revolution, war, corruption & back to government ...and the loud-mouthed laundress who didn't seem to be affected by any of it. Watch it & enjoy!


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