Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Italy/France, 1952. Amato Produzione, Filmsonor, Les Films Ariane, Rizzoli Editore. Original scenario by Rene Wheeler, Rene Fallet, Adaptation by Christian-Jaque, Henri Jeanson, Rene Wheeler, dialogue by Henri Jeanson. Cinematography by Christian Matras. Produced by Alexandre Mnouchkine. Music by Maurice Thiriet, Georges Van Parys. Production Design by Robert Gys. Costume Design by Marcel Escoffier. Film Editing by Jacques Desagneaux.
Gerard Philipe is sensational in this wonderful swashbuckler, reminiscent of the thrilling Errol Flynn adventures of the 1930s and 40s. He plays the title hero, a roué who joins Louis XV’s army to avoid marrying a peasant girl whose father caught them fumbling in a haystack. A sexpot gypsy (Gina Lollobrigida in the role that made her a star) tells him that his fortune includes a glorious career as a soldier and the hand of a princess, but Fanfan realizes after he’s signed his military contract that she’s actually the sergeant’s daughter and tells all future recruits this tale. Still, he’s convinced that his destiny is a good one, and makes his way to the boudoir of the princess only to be put in prison by the King for his boldness. Lots of swords being swung in this witty adventure, plus rich dialogue and beautiful period detail.
The Criterion Collection: #451
Berlin Film Festival Award: Silver Bear
Cannes Film Festival Award: Best Director (Christian-Jaque)