Sacha Guitry - Biography


Guitry was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1885, the son of the well-known actor Lucien Guitry. Sacha was first on stage at age five. He developed a charming, witty stage persona, often appearing in period-dress light comedies, for instance his 1925 pastiche Mozart, which contains a story about the fictional adventures of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on a visit to Paris. In his 1937 film Pearls of the Crown he plays four roles, one of them being Napoleon III.

Both popular and productive through the 1920s, Guitry was responsible for 124 plays (some written in less than three days), more than 30 books, and a heavy schedule of performances and appearances. In 1919 he married actress Yvonne Printemps, but it was his third marriage, to actress Jacqueline Delubac, in 1935, that encouraged Guitry to document his stage performances on film. He directed 33 movies, and married twice more.

Guitry's career took a dark turn during the Nazi occupation. The crisis did not slow the pace of his career; he was accused of accepting special favors (the return of his confiscated villa, for instance, and the rare privilege of being allowed to drive on Sunday), and he produced a commemorative tribute book to the president of the Etat Français Vichy France, Marshal Philippe Pétain, 1429-1942 - From Joan of Arc to Philippe Petain, and presented it in an opera gala in June 1944. Upon the liberation of France, Guitry was among the first arrested, by a self-appointed militia, and was imprisoned for two months. Officially absolved in 1947, he expressed regret at the absence of a formal trial.

True or not, those accusations clung to him. His career and reputation went into sharp decline after the war. A recent critical re-assessment began with a 2010 reissue of four of his films by Eclipse (DVD) a division of the Criterion Collection.

In 2011, an auction sale with works by Guitry was organized in Hôtel Drouot (Paris) and considered as the most important since the artist's death.

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