Sunday, October 05, 2008


[the film was never released in Finland]. FR 1922. PC: Films Tristan Bernard. D: : Raymond Bernard; SC: Tristan Bernard & Raymond Bernard, based on the play by Tristan Bernard & André Godfernaux (1905); DP: Raoul Aubourdier & Paul Guichard; AD: Robert Mallet-Stevens; LOC: Paris; Côte d’Azur; Studios Pathé, Vincennes); CAST: Henri Debain (Robert de Houdan), Edith Jehanne (Yvonne Herbelier), Pierre Palau (Boucherot), Jeanne Loury (Baroness Pépin), Armand Numès (Herbelier), Mme. Ahnar (Mme. Herbelier), Mme. Ritto (Mme. de Crèvecoeur), Suzy Boldès (lrène de Crèvecoeur), Henri Volbert (mayor), Albert Broquin (valet); 1598 m /18 fps/ 78 min print: La Cinémathèque française, reconstituée en 1991 par Renée Lichtig. Original in French with e-subtitles in English and Italian. Grand piano: Stephen Horne. Viewed at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, Cinema Verdi, 5 September 2008. - A beautiful definition of light in the print. - Lenny Borger: "Previous to the international success of his 1924 historical romance, Le Miracle des loups, director Raymond Bernard was the frequent collaborator of his famous and beloved father, Tristan Bernard, the Belle Époque novelist, playwright, and wit. (...) [with] the unexpected adventure of Miracle of the Wolves (...) Bernard’s career took a spectacular U-turn from modest art film to big-budget studio spectacular. Many of his erstwhile admirers never forgave him for “selling out”.
Made early in 1922, Triplepatte was the Bernards’ screen version of Tristan’s 1905 social comedy of the same name, about a young Paris aristocrat whose chronic indecision wreaks havoc in his social circle and his private life. The play’s first author was a physiologist, André Godfernaux, who wanted to write a play about diseases of the will. He asked Tristan to collaborate. Tristan obliged, only too well – what began as a serious thesis drama became the laugh sensation of the 1905-06 Paris season. To make things even more droll, the high-born low achiever, Viscount Robert de Houdan – nicknamed “Triplepatte” (“Triple-Legs”) after his racehorse, because both always balk at hurdles – was played by Marcel Levesque(...) The 1908 New York premiere starred another profile as famous as Levesque’s – John Barrymore.
Triplepatte, the film, was an ideal fusion of talents. Tristan and Raymond jettisoned entire scenes and characters in order to streamline the plot and settings more cinematically – from a ponderously talky 3 hours to a crisp 80 minutes, with a spare but comically potent use of intertitles (the climactic elevator gag provides a witty solution to a problem of dramatic construction that Tristan failed to solve back in 1905). The downside to this, if it is one, is that the film indulges more in broad farce – with the famous scene of the wedding ceremony and the groom’s arrival in his pajamas! – than in any satiric portrait of high society in the faubourg Saint-Germain.
Though by no means anti-avant-garde, Triplepatte also parodied avant-garde effects and aestheticism, as in the nightmare scene in which the hero flees his creditor and matchmaker waving giant butterfly nets, a moment that combines negative images and slow-motion. Ivan Mosjoukine, the Russian émigré actor, would use similar negative effects in his self-directed Le Brasier ardent, shot later that year, just as Triplepatte was going into trade screenings.
But Triplepatte’s most consistent pleasure is actor Henri Debain, who displays hilariously droopy aplomb as the asocial socialite, a sort of French cousin to Russia’s original couch potato, Oblomov. Debain, a talented cartoonist (as the first scene of the film shows), was a close friend of the Bernard family, and appeared in Raymond’s early films before going on to direct a few films himself and collaborate with other notable directors, among them Henri Fescourt, who featured him as the comically villainous Caderousse in Monte Cristo (1929)."
– Lenny Borger. - I saw but the beginning and the end, but it seemed like a witty comedy and social satire worth revisiting. Yes, Triplepatte is like a French Oblomov. There is the cancelled wedding motif in the beginning. And yes, the lift sequence is great.

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