Pearls of the Crown (1937)



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Movie Info

Originally titled Les Perles de Couronne, this Sacha Guitry historical extravaganza stars both Guitry and his wife Jacqueline Delubac. The plotline hinges on four valuable pearls, which pass from hand to hand over a period of several centuries, from the time of Britain's Henry VIII to the present. All of this is offered in flashback form, as a group of modern-day treasure hunters try to locate three of the missing pearls by tracing them back to their previous owners. Guitry shows up as King Francis I, Barras and Napoleon III, in addition to his contemporary persona of Jean Martin; Debulac is seen as Mary Queen of Scots and Empress Josephine. There isn't a scintilla of historical accuracy in the film, nor did Guitry have the slightest intention of including any; his sole purpose was to entertain the audience and serve up a superbly ironic denoument. The supporting cast is a polyglot of French, English and Italian actors, each speaking in his or her own language. The screenplay for Pearls of the Crown was cowritten by Guitry and another immensely talented filmmaker, Christian-Jaque. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


Jacqueline Delubac
as Francoise Martin
Sacha Guitry
as Napoleon III
Lyn Harding
as An Equerry to His Majesty
Renée Saint-Cyr
as Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne
as Queen of Ethiopia
Ermete Zacconi
as Pope Clement VIII
Simone Renant
as Madame Du Barry
Enrico Glori
as Papal Chamberlain
Marguerite Moreno
as Catherine de Medici
Yvette Pienne
as Queen Elizabeth I; Mary Tudor; Queen Vic
as Spanelli
Percy Marmont
as Cardinal Wolsey
Barbara Shaw
as Anne Boleyn
Jean-Louis Barrault
as Gen. Bonaparte
Émile Drain
as Napoleon I
Fred Duprez
as An American
Germaine Aussey
as Gabrielle D'Estress
as Southemer
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Critic Reviews for Pearls of the Crown

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (3)

Irresistibly effervescent dialogue, a sprightly 'modern' visual style -- one could go on forever about a film that comes to an end all too soon.

Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

A zany fusion of historical fantasy.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

The sheer personality and energy of this 1937 film transcends linguistic barriers.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

... an antricately cut gem, an epic in miniature with a whimsical sensibility.

Nov 18, 2010 | Full Review…

History may be written by the victors, but it is only the best writers who make it fun.

Aug 1, 2010 | Rating: 10/10 | Full Review…

A dazzling potpourri of French, English and Italian language. Wonderfully zany - not to be missed.

May 24, 2003 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Pearls of the Crown

"Pearls of the Crown" starts with Jean Martin(Sacha Guitry, who also co-wrote and directed) in the process of telling his wife Francoise(Jacqueline Delubac) about seven pearls and their history. At the same time, the story is being told in Rome and London. The action opens in 1518 with the almost simultaneous births of the French Dauphin and Catherine de Medici, the latter of whom is almost immediately orphaned after her birth, leaving her in the care of her uncle, Pope Clement VII(Ermete Zacconi), who not wanting to have anything to do with a baby, sends her to the care of a monastery. Eight years later, the Dauphin's father, King Francis I of France(Sacha Guitry) thinks it is about time he should get married and arranges a marriage for him with Catherine de Medici. As time goes on, Clement notices her handlers taking an interest in her, so he promotes one to Cardinal(I'll behave myself for once and not say anything) while sending the other on a quest for perfect pearls... ...and that's not the half of it as the second part of the movie consists of a mystery after Martin's story has been concluded. Overall, the effect of watching "Pearls of the Crown" is sort of like having 400 years of European history directly downloaded into your brain, albeit in a totally delightful fashion.(Oh where have you been films of Sacha Guitry all my filmgoing life?) All of which feels fresh, even with Tudor England having been done to death recently. But then I do not really think it is history that Guitry is after but romance and how it has played out over the centuries from the ruling class(including Abyssynia) to the poor.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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