18 April 2024
Entertainment Movies

Micheline Presle, Actress Recognized for ‘Satan within the Flesh,’ Dies at 101

Micheline Presle, a delicate and stylish actress who was a final hyperlink to the primary golden age of French cinema, died on Feb. 21 in Nogent-sur-Marne, a suburb of Paris. She was 101.

Her demise, on the Maison des Artistes, a retirement house for artists partly funded by the federal government, was confirmed by her son-in-law, Olivier Bomsel.

Ms. Presle (pronounced prell) was the ultimate survivor of a trio of actresses — Danièlle Darrieux and Michèle Morgan had been the opposite two — who had been already stars in France by the outbreak of World Conflict II, and who outlined a sure fashion of French femininity, each at house and overseas. Ms. Presle’s delicate facial expressions conjured a variety of human feelings, notably in two movies that, by crucial consent, she by no means surpassed, “Le Diable au Corps,” or “Satan within the Flesh” (1947), and “Boule de Suif” (1945).

Each of these movies had been primarily based on masterpieces of French literature: The primary was tailored from a novel by the good however short-lived creator Raymond Radiguet; the second from two quick tales by Man de Maupassant. These delicate and sophisticated tales drew on Ms. Presle’s versatility.

“Le Diable au Corps” depicted the passionate affair between a younger lady, performed by Ms. Presle, whose husband was away preventing within the trenches in World Conflict I, and a teenage schoolboy, performed by the very younger Gérard Philipe, who throughout his temporary profession was each France’s main heartthrob and its best actor.

The movie created a scandal in France and elsewhere — on the Brussels movie competition in 1947, the French ambassador left the theater in protest — and it was banned by British censors for six years earlier than it was launched there with an X score.

Nonetheless, it was “the main work of her profession,” Bertrand Guyard, a movie critic for Le Figaro, stated after her demise, and it was all of the extra outstanding that Ms. Presle was solely 25.

When the movie was launched in the US in 1949 as “Satan within the Flesh,” Bosley Crowther of The New York Instances, after praising Mr. Philipe, known as Ms. Presle “an attractive and delicate performer, too — a youthful, full-bodied little creature with remarkably tender mouth and eyes.” He additionally praised “our assorted censors” for permitting the movie, which he known as “maybe the best, most mature from postwar France” to be proven within the U.S.

Ms. Presle’s strains are trivial, however she makes up for it with a variety of facial expressions, from despair to ardour, that take within the movie’s whole narrative. Directed by Claude Autant-Lara, who later turned a far-right politician and Holocaust denier, it was an enormous box-office success.

In a statement after her death, the French presidency praised Ms. Presle’s “limpid gaze” and “ingenuous pout,” in addition to her means to “incarnate a thousand faces of humanity.”

In a cellphone interview, Mr. Bomsel, her son-in-law, who was married to Ms. Presle’s daughter, the actress and director Tonie Marshall, known as her “utterly instinctive,” including, “Immediately, she would enter into the position.”

By the point “Le Diable au Corps” was launched, Ms. Presle’s appeal had already introduced her discover in the US. Early opinions, anticipating the criticism to come back, notably in America, characterised her as a classy actress usually trapped in a mediocre movie.

The New York Instances’s reviewer of “4 Flights to Love,” or “Paradis Perdu,” directed by Abel Gance, discovered Ms. Presle “so piquantly stunning as to make the entire account nearly convincing.” The movie, through which she performed the spouse of a soldier, launched her to stardom in France in 1940, because the nation was newly reeling below the German Occupation.

In contrast to her up to date Ms. Darrieux, who died in 2017 at 100, Ms. Presle didn’t compromise herself in the course of the Occupation: She didn’t make movies for the German-funded Continental movie firm, nor did she participate within the notorious “Journey to Berlin,” a 1942 train journey by film stars that the Nazis used for propaganda.

Nonetheless, she flourished throughout these 4 darkish years, making 12 movies.

Over the course of a profession extraordinary for its longevity and productiveness — greater than 120 movies in eight a long time — Ms. Presle made her share of also-rans. In 1950, on the top of her stardom, she moved to Hollywood for small roles in movies which might be little remembered at this time. She was additionally following her husband, the American actor-director William Marshall. However she later remarked to an interviewer, with attribute asperity: “I by no means pulled something worthwhile from love. It was my fault. I wished like to be the largest deal of my life; it wound up being the worst.”

After her separation from Mr. Marshall, she returned to France in 1951 along with her daughter, Tonie — however, she later said in an interview, “no person wished me.” But she resurrected herself within the mid-Sixties as a star in considered one of France’s early tv sitcoms, “Les Saintes Cheries,” in regards to the every day lifetime of a well-off Paris couple. It completely captured that period’s bourgeois ethos earlier than the protests of Might 1968, and it turned successful.

From there, it was a succession of resurrections for Ms. Presle, with quite a few appearances on the Parisian stage within the Nineteen Seventies and in movies, some that by no means crossed the Atlantic and a few by vital administrators like Jacques Rivette (“La Religieuse,” 1966), Claude Chabrol (“Le Sang des Autres,” 1984) and others. She additionally appeared in her daughter’s productions.

“Micheline was somebody who was able to reinventing herself,” Mr. Bomsel stated.

Micheline Nicole Julia Émilienne Chassagne was born on Aug. 22, 1922, in Paris, the daughter of Robert Chassagne, a stockbroker who was later pressured to flee France to keep away from trial in a monetary scandal, and Yvonne (Bachelier) Chassagne, a painter.

With Mr. Chassagne hiding in New York, Ms. Presle — she adopted the final title from considered one of her first display screen roles — was primarily raised by her mom. Her first position was within the 1937 movie “La Fessee”; her first main presence was in “Jeunes Filles en Détresse,” or “Women in Misery,” directed by G.W. Pabst, who bridged the silent and talkie eras. That position led her to Abel Gance, the director greatest recognized for the 1927 epic “Napoleon,” and main stardom.

“She had a profession starting that was completely spectacular,” Mr. Bomsel stated. “It might have been very tough to proceed at that rhythm.”

In later years, Le Figaro wrote in 2011, “one may see her, nonetheless, strolling throughout Paris, her head up, clad in a trench coat and the flat-soled footwear of a walker, popping in to film theaters as a result of a title, or an actor, happy her.”

Ms. Presle is survived by two grandchildren. Tonie Marshall, her daughter, died in 2020.

She was “precisely as she appeared onscreen,” Mr. Bomsel stated. And, he added, “Since she was instinctive, she by no means took it too severely.”