Nationality: French. Born: Micheline Chassagne in Paris, 22 August 1922; known in the United States as Micheline Prelle. Education: Attended a convent school. Family: Married the actor William Marshall. Career: 1938—film debut in Je chante; successful leading roles followed; 1946—international success with Gérard Philipe in Le Diable au corps; 1950–51—made several American films; also acted on stage and television. Address: 6 rue Antoine-Dubois, Paris 75006, France.
Films as Actress:
(as Micheline Michel)
Je chante (Stengel); Petite peste (de Limur); Sais seule que j'aime (Fescourt)
(as Micheline Presle)
Jeunes filles en détresse (Pabst) (as Jacqueline Presle)
Le Paradis perdu (Four Flights to Love) (Gance) (as mother and daughter); Fausse alerte (The French Way) (de Baroncelli) (as Claire Ancelot); Elles étaient 12 femmes(Lacombe) (as Lucie); Parade en 7 nuits (Marc Allégret)
Historie de rire (Foolish Husbands) (L'Herbier) (as Adélaîde Barbier); Le Soleil a toujours raison (Billon) (as Micheline)
La Comédie du bonheur (L'Herbier) (as Lydia); La Nuit fantastique (Fantastic Night) (L'Herbier) (as Irène); Félicie Nanteuil (Histoire comique) (Marc Allégret) (title role); La Belle Aventure (Twilight) (Marc Allégret) (as FrançoisePinbrache)
Un Seul Amour (Blanchar) (as Clara Biondi)
Falbalas (Paris Frills) (Becker) (as Micheline Lafaurie)
Boule de suif (Angel and Sinner) (Christian-Jaque) (as Elisa-beth Rousset)
Le Diable au corps (Devil in the Flesh) (Autant-Lara) (as Marthe Graingier)
Les Jeux sont faits (The Chips Are Down) (Delannoy) (as Eve Charlier)
Les Derniers Jours de Pompéi (Sins of Pompeii) (L'Herbier)(as Hélène); Tous les chemins mènent à Rome (Boyer)(as Laura)
Under My Skin (La Belle de Paris) (Negulesco) (as Paule Manet); American Guerilla in the Philippines (I Shall Return; Guerillas) (Fritz Lang) (as Jeanne Martinez)
The Adventures of Captain Fabian (New Orleans Adventure)(William Marshall) (as Léa Mariotte)
La Dame aux camélias (Bernard) (as Marguerite Gautier)
L'Amour d'une femme (Grémillon) (as Marie Prieur); Si Versailles m'était conté (Affairs in Versailles; Royal Affairs in Versailles) (Guitry) (as Madame de Pompadour); Villa Borghese (Les Amants de villa Borghese; It Happened in the Park) (Franciolini)
Casa Ricordi (House of Ricordi; La Maison du souvenir)(Gallone) (as Virginia Marchi); Les Impures (Chevalier)(as Michèle); Napoléon (Guitry) (as Hortense de Beauharnais)
Treize à table (Hunebelle) (as Madeleine Villardier)
Beatrice Cenci (Le Château des amants maudits) (Freda) (as Lucrezia Cenci); La Mariée est trop belle (The Bride Is Much Too Beautiful) (Gaspard-Huit) (as Judith)
Les Louves (Demoniaque; The She Wolves) (Saslavsky) (as Hélène); Les Femmes sont marrantes (Hunebelle) (as Nicole)
Christine (Gaspard-Huit) (as Lena Eggersdorf); Bobosse (Périer)(as Régine) (Surin)
Blind Date (Chance Meeting; L'Enquête de l'inspecteur Morgan) (Losey) (as Jacqueline Cousteau); Une Fille pour l'été(A Mistress for the Summer) (Molinaro) (as Paule); Le Baron de l'Ecluse (Delannoy) (as Perle); Herrin der Welt(Mistress of the World) (Dieterle) (as Mme. Latour)
L'Amant de cinq jours (The Five Day Lover; Infidelity) (de Broca) (as Madeleine)
Les Grandes Personnes (Time Out for Love) (Valère) (as Michèle); L'Assassino (The Lady Killer of Rome; The Assassin) (Petri) (as Adalgisa de Matteis); I briganti italiani(Les Guerrilleros) (Camerini) (as La Marquise)
"La Luxure" ("Lust") ep. of Les Sept Péchés capitaux (The Seven Capital Sins) (Demy) (as Mother); La Loi des hommes(Gérard) (as Sophie Olivier); If a Man Answers (Un Mari en laisse) (Levin) (as Germaine Stacey); Le Diable et les dix commandements (The Devil and the Ten Commandments) (Duvivier) (as Micheline); Venere imperiale (Vénus impériale; Imperial Venus) (Delannoy) (as Josephine de Beauharnais)
Coup de bambou (Boyer) (as Angèle Brissac); The Prize(Robson) (as Denise Marceau)
Dark Purpose (L'Intrigue) (George Marshall) (as Monique);La Chasse à l'homme (The Gentle Art of Seduction; Male Hunt) (Molinaro) (as Isabelle Heurtin); Les Pieds nickelés(Chambon) (as Lady Van der Mèche)
Je vous salue, mafia (Hail, Mafia) (Lévy) (as Daisy); La Religieuse (The Nun) (Rivette) (as Mme. de Moni)
Le Roi de coeur (King of Hearts) (de Broca) (as Mme.Eglantine)
La Bal du Comte d'Orgel (Marc Allégret) (as Mme. deSéryeuse); Le Clair de terre (Gilles) (as L'Antiquare)
Peau d'âne (The Magic Donkey; Donkey Skin) (Demy) (as La Deuxième Reine [Red Queen])
Les Pétroleuses (The Legend of Frenchie King) (Christian-Jaque) (as Tante Amélie); Il Diavolo nel Cervello (Sollima)(as La comtesse Claudia)
L'Oiseau rare (Brialy); L'Evénement le plus important depuis que l'homme a marché sur la lune (A Slightly Pregnant Man) (Demy) (as Dr. Delavigne); Le Boucher, la star, et l'orpheline (Savary) (as Belladonna); La Gueule de l'emploi(Rouland) (as herself)
Deux grandes filles dans un pyjama (Girault) (as Laurence);La preda (Paolella) (as Bessie Lester); Trompe-l'oeil(D'Anna) (as Laure Deschanel)
Mords pas, on t'aime (La Fête des pères) (Yves Allégret)
Nea (Nea: A New Woman) (Kaplan) (as Helen Ashby); Le Diable dans la boîte (Lary) (as Mme. Aubert); Certaines nouvelles (Davila) (as Hélène)
Va voir maman, papa travaille (Your Turn, My Turn) (Leterrier)(as Vava)
On efface tout (Vidal) (as Mme. Coeurdevey); Démons de midi (La couleur de temps) (Paureilhe) (as Rose); S'il vous plaît . . . la mer? (Lancelot) (as mother); Je te tiens, tu me tiens par la barbichette (Yanne) (as La femme d'argent)
Rien ne va plus (Ribes) (as Carmen); Tout dépend des filles(Fabre) (as Betty)
Remueménage (Davila) (as mother)
Archipel des amours (Treilhou); En haut des marches(Vecchiali); Lili Lamont (Logereau); Thieves After Dark(Voleurs de la nuit) (Fuller) (as Genevieve); Le Sang des autres (The Blood of Others) (Chabrol) (as Denise)
Le Chien (Gallotte); Les Fausses confidences (Marivaux) (as Mme. Argante)
Beau temps, mais orageux en fin de journée (Frot-Coutaz) (as Jacqueline)
Alouette, je te plumerai (Zucca) (as lady with jewels)
Je veux rentrer à la maison (I Want to Go Home) (Resnais) (as Isabelle Gauthier); La Fête des pères (Fleury) (as Mireille)
Après après-demain (Frot-Coutaz) (as the neighbor)
Der Andere Blick (The Other Eye) (Heer and Schmiedel)
Je m'appelle Victor (My Name Is Victor) (Jacques) (as Luce);Fanfan (Fanfan & Alexandre) (Jardin) (as Maude)
Pas tres Catholique (Something Fishy) (Tonie Marshall) (as Mme. Loussine); Casque Bleu (Blue Helmet) (Jugnot)(as Gisele)
Le Journal du Seducteur (Seducer's Diary) (Du Broux) (as Diane); Les Misérables (Lelouche) (as Mother Superior)
Les Mille et une recettes du cuisinier amoureux (A Chef in Love/A Cook in Love) (Dzhordzadze) (as Marcelle Ichak);Fallait pas! (Jugnot); Le Journal du séducteur (Diary ofa Seducer) (Dubroux) (as Diane); Enfants de salaud (Bastard Brood) (as Mère de sophie)
Cannes . . . les 400 coups (Nadeau—for TV) (as herself)
Grève party (Grève party); Le Comte de Monte Cristo (The Count of Monte Cristo) (Dayan—mini for TV) (as Madame de Saint-Méran)
Vénus beauté (Venus Beauty Salon) (Marshall) (Tante Maryse);Le Voyage à Paris (Dufresne); Mauvaises fréquentations(Améris); Le Coeur à l'ouvrage (Dussaux) (as Madeleine)
By PRESLE: book—
L'Arriere Mémoire, 1994.
By PRESLE: articles—
Interview in Cinématographe (Paris), May 1982.
Interview in Film Français (Paris), 31 August 1984.
Interview with Raymond Chirat, in La IVe République et ses films, Paris 1985.
Interview with F. Audé and G. Grandmaire, in Positif (Paris), April 1989.
"Le rire de Pabst," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), supplement, May 1991.
Interview in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), April 1992.
Interview in 24 Images (Montreal), Summer 1996.
On PRESLE: articles—
Ciné Revue (Paris), 21 April 1983.
Taboulay, C., "Son rire était formidable," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), April 1992.
Stars (Mariembourg, Belgium), June 1992 and September 1992.
Stars (Mariembourg), June 1992, Autumn 1994.
Taboulay, Camille, "Les jeux de mémoire de Micheline Presle," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), October 1994.
* * *
After training for the stage under Raymond Rouleau, Micheline Presle made her screen debut with Charles Trenet in Je chante. An international career of more than a hundred films has followed with a variety of directors including Marc Allégret, Autant-Lara, Demy, Gance, L'Herbier, Losey, and her husband William Marshall. Her early appearances were in character as a mischievous adolescent, but she quickly graduated to more demanding roles and achieved critical recognition as Jacqueline in Jeunes filles en détresse and for her dual role as mother and daughter in Le Paradis perdu.
During the Occupation she appeared as the desirable young female in lighthearted romantic comedies directed by L'Herbier: La Comédie du bonheur, Histoire de rire, La Nuit fantastique. In the last two she played opposite Fernand Gravey whom she was later to partner in the acclaimed situation comedy Treize à table. Films with Marc Allégret consolidated her reputation; she played Françoise Pinbrache in the comic success La Belle Aventure and starred as the ambitious young actress of Félicie Nanteuil. In the immediate postwar years came more weighty parts, now as the mature, and often sophisticated, woman of the world. Falbalas, in which she was joined by her early mentor Raymond Rouleau, intitiated this transition: here brilliantly rendering the unpredictable Micheline Lafaurie, the inspiration behind a celebrated couturier. Three consecutive tragic roles in literary adaptations followed: she played the exploited and shunned prostitute of Maupassant's Boule de suif, was Eve Charlier in Sartre's Les Jeux sont faits, and in Radiguet's Le Diable au corps she played Marthe, the unfaithful wife of a serving soldier, in a memorable partnership with Gérard Philipe.
Popular success took Presle to Hollywood where she was teamed with established American stars: with John Garfield in Under My Skin she was a cabaret singer; with Tyrone Power in American Guerilla in the Philippines the seductive Jeanne Martinez; and with Errol Flynn in New Orleans Adventure, directed by her husband William Marshall and filmed in France, she was the irresistible Léa Mariotte. None of these parts extended her acting skills.
As Marguerite Gautier in Dumas's La Dame aux camélias, however, she reaffirmed her French roots, and for Sacha Guitry she appeared in lavish historical costume dramas. If these parts simply confirmed her versatility, more challenging roles as a professional woman came in the 1950s and 1960s, reflecting social changes of the period. After her engaging portrayal of a dedicated young doctor facing the sexual prejudices of a small community in L'Amour d'une femme, she was, in lighter vein, the director of a woman's magazine in La Mariée est trop belle, a successful businesswoman in Les Grandes Personnes, a busy reporter in La Loi des hommes, and a psychologist in Mords pas, on t'aime. Her comic gifts have also seen her cast as the socially outrageous or endearingly scatterbrained character. More sinister roles have included the sleazy cabaret singer in Les Impures, the atrocious Hélène of Les Louves, the alcoholic Bessie Lester of La Préda, and for Losey the deceptively genteel Jacqueline Cousteau of Blind Date.
With age Presle has been increasingly cast as the mother, good or bad, rather than the wife, faithful or unfaithful. There have been memorable performances as Laure Deschanel, the possessive mother of Trompe-l'oeil, or as Helen Ashby, the lesbian mother of Néa, or as the clinically depressive mother of Beau temps, mais orageux en fin de journée, while in Resnais's I Want to Go Home she gave a delightfully measured performance as the cultured Mme. Gauthier.
Presle's links with the theater have remained strong and she has often excelled in screen versions of plays, as, for example, in the role of Mme. Argante in Marivaux's Les Fausses confidences. In more than one film she has played the performer, either as cabaret singer or as actress. Her work for television has also met with acclaim, particularly as the star of the long-running series Les Saintes Chéries.
As an actress who enjoys her work immensely, Presle has responded readily to a variety of roles for the stage, the cinema, and television. Her range is impressive, extending from early comic and romantic parts through roles in thrillers, costume pieces, and social dramas, into darker, more tragic character studies. Her talents have been in demand by French, English, American, and Italian directors alike, and in her long career she has worked with the most famous names of the cinema and those who have quickly faded. Vitality, versatility, and an enduring commitment to her profession have ensured Presle a permanent place in the annals of the cinema.
—R. F. Cousins