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Michèle Mercier



CICC, 1964.  Directed by Bernard Borderie.  Camera:  Henri Persin.  With Michèle Mercier, Robert Hossein, Jean Rochefort, Claude Giraud, Giulano Gemma, Jacques Toja, Madeleine LeBeau, Jean Topart.

When her father is ruined, Angélique de Sancé is forced into marrying the nobleman Joffrey de Peyrac, whom she despises because of his reputed ugliness and dabbling with sorcery.  However, she begins to love him and the two enjoy a blissfully happy marriage.  Then King Louis XIV meets Angélique and is determined to make her his mistress…

This is the first, and notably the best, in a series of five films chronicling the adventures of a beautiful 17th century marquise, Angélique, played magnificently by Michèle Mercier.  Although rarely seen outside of continental Europe, these films were very successful in France in the 1960s and display that country’s unique flair for historical costume dramas.  The films were based on a series of historical novels by Anne et Serge Golon, very popular in France in the 1960s.

For Mercier, the role of Angélique was both a blessing and a curse.  It catapulted her to almost instant stardom, rivaling Brigitte Bardot in her celebrity and popularity, but it ruined her acting career.  By the end of the 1960s, the names Angélique and Michèle Mercier were synonymous, and to escape typecasting, Mercier was compelled to leave France and try to restart her career in America, without great success.  A similar fate befell Robert Hossein, who played Angélique’s husband, Joffrey de Peyrac, in four of the five films.