Fabulous Versailles; Royal Affair In Versailles

1971. FABULOUS VERSAILLES (Royal Affairs In Versailles) (France). With ORSON WELLES, CLAUDETTE COLBERT, EDITH PIAF, SACHA GUITRY, JEAN MARAIS. Written and directed by SACHA GUITRY. Narrated by ORSON WELLES. Guitry, the esteemed French playwright, screenwriter, director and actor, caps his illustrious career-he both acted in and directed his first films in the second decade of the century-with this sublime historical drama. It is at once a story of the grandeur of France and an ode to the “secret, mysterious, intimate” Chateau of Versailles, which for centuries was home to the nation’s monarchy. Featured is a handpicked cast of French movie talent, joined by a pair of American stars, Orson Welles and Claudette Colbert. Guitry expertly weaves a complex story of three hundred years of the French monarchy, in which many of the names in the history books come to life. Among them are three kings named Louis (XIV, XV, and XIV); Marie Antoinette; Moliere; D’Artagnan; Mme de Pompadour; and Benjamin Franklin. Of all these figures, perhaps the most extraordinary is Louis XIV (who, as an elderly man, is exceptionally well-played by Guitry); he is shown to have cultivated Versailles, making it into Europe’s most glorious palace. Another performance of note: Welles, in outrageously heavy make-up, as a fat, jowly, aging Ben Franklin, who comes to France to secure assistance for the American Revolution. Welles does double duty as narrator, and he effectively keeps the story moving. The entire film, by the way, was shot on location at the Chateau of Versailles. Caution: this is a black and white print of a film originally released in color. Dubbed In English. 103 minutes. Historical Drama