Photos with Maurice Escande
The name of Maurice Escande is inextricably linked to the Comédie-Française, the oldest and most illustrious theatre company of France. He indeed belonged to the troupe - with only a few interruptions - from 1918 to 1970, rose through the ranks from "pensionnaire" (paid actor) to "sociétaire" (regular member) to chief administrator between 1960 and 1970. Born on 4-11-1892, he is still a teen when he decides to become an actor. A play seen at the Odeon is the revelation of his vocation. Read more... tragedy. It is the beginning of a long and prestigious career on the stage where he played Racine, Corneille, Victor Hugo, Musset, Balzac, Molière, Verlaine, Voltaire, Shakespeare, Beaumarchais, Vigny, Guitry, Rostand, Montherlant... and that is not the half of it! Not content to tread the boards, to direct plays, to teach drama to dozens of future thespians such as Claude Piéplu and Michel Bouquet, Maurice Escande was also a movie actor, from 1917 to 1970. But the adjective "prestigious" cannot apply to his film career, rich in terms of quantity (70 titles) but much less in terms of quality. Too few great names of French cinema used him, and when they did, they tended to hire Escande for their lesser efforts like Marcel Pagnol for Le gendre de Monsieur Poirier (1933) or Jean Grémillon for L'étrange Mme X (1951). And what a lot of cheesy titles in his filmography signed by patented rubbishy filmmakers as Wulschleger, Caron, Vallée, Hugon, Tavano, Couzinet, Jayet! Just to boil the pot for sure. However Escande lent his handsome figure (wasn't he a matinée idol in the first silent movies he made?), natural distinction and elegance to a couple of really important works among which Abel Gance's shocking (for the time) historic drama Lucrezia Borgia (1935), in which he was the Duke of Gandie, Jean Renoir's_La Marseillaise (1937)_, where he embodied the village squire, 'Abel Gance's Le capitaine Fracasse (1943), as the Marquis des Bruyères, Sacha Guitry's Le diable boiteux (1948) as Metternich, and Man to Men (1948) or to less ambitious but good quality films directed by Henri Diamant-Berger(Three Musketeers (1932)), Georges Lacombe (Les époux scandaleux (1935), Café de Paris (1938)_), Robert Vernay (_Le père Goriot (1944)_, Le capitan (1946)), Albert Valentin (La vie de plaisir (1944)), etc. Anyway, Maurice Escande's great presence and noble bearing was always added value to the films he appeared in, whatever their quality was. Very often a noble (count, duke, marquis, prince or even king: Louis XIV, Louis XV), he was one of the great names of French theater who brought their talent to the seventh art, enhancing a film when it was good and making it bearable when it was a bomb.