Roger Karl (Roger Trouve)
BiographyBourges, Cher, France
One of the very few actors to have spent more than a hundred years on this earth and to have performed his art until he was over 90, Roger Karl (1882-1984) was an exceptionally gifted person who could have become an artist ('Pablo Picasso' was a friend of his) or a writer (he was close to Guillaume Apollinaire and Paul Léautaud, eventually putting pen to paper with a book of memoirs, "Journal d'un homme de nulle part"). Bur Roger Karl finally opted for acting, studying drama at the Conservatoire de Paris first, then at the Odeon. Read more... in prestigious plays (Molière 's "L'amour médecin", Jules Romains's Le roi masqué, Albert Camus's "Le malentendu", William Shakespeare's "Henry IV and many many others), with prestigious partners (among whom the legendary Sarah Bernhardt) under the direction of prestigious directors (Jacques Copeau, Louis Jouvet, Jean Vilar ...) But although theater was a passion and despite the fact that he had always expressed his preference for theater over cinema, Roger Karl did not miss out on a film actor career, debuting on the silver screen as early as 1909, which was an exception among 'serious' theater actors of his kind only to say his professional goodbye 65 years later in a 1974 TV movie. A much more uneven career than his stage one, both in terms of quality and steadiness (he indeed made only brief and sparse appearances after 1946), it is not without high points though, notably the five films directed by famous avant-garde director director Marcel L'Herbier: Phantasmes (1917), L'homme du large (1920),Le vertige (1926) and Le diable au coeur (1928) and L'argent (1928), two of which are eternal masterpieces (L'homme du large" and "L'argent"). As a tough Breton fisherman, the desperate but uncompromising father of a good-for-nothing, Roger Karl proved particularly convincing, which earned him a lot of authority figures such as bankers, police commissioners, bishops, nobles and other ministers. The trouble is that well as fine-looking with gravitas Roger Karl played them, it was often in conventional bourgeois dramas which have not stood the test of time, especially during the thirties. Nevertheless a few films have fared better and are still exciting to see today, like Misdeal (1928), directed by Jean Grémillon alongside 'Charles Dullin' and wife, Julien Duvivier's ,The Golem (1936), Under Western Eyes (1936) Oddly enough, while the quality of the films Roger Karl improved in the early forties, the military types he continued playing were on the wrong side of history. He was indeed a German officer in Christian-Jaque's excellent adaptation of Maupassant Angel and Sinner (1945) and in Maurice de Canonge 's more indifferent resistance drama Mission spéciale (1946). After that, Roger Karl more or less vanished from the screens while going on with a remarkable theater career. For all that, it remains undeniable that, even if films were not Roger Karl's artistic priority, his contribution to the seventh art is not to be overlooked.