What Bonaparte Didn’t Know—My Love for French Cinema!

Summer is over. Officially, Fall doesn’t roll in for another two weeks, but mentally; I’m done with the heat and humidity.

Which brings me to this—Bonaparte and I love going to the movies during the Summer months. For two hours we can enter into the world of Cinematic escapism. We can “see” a story come to life. Every summer brings a new crop of films for us…

This summer was different. We saw a movie. That’s right “A” movie together. “ONE” movie. We saw “Trainwreck” which we absolutely loved. It was a comedy with heart.


The ONLY great movie this summer! It brought back so many memories of my single life.  Hey! Don’t judge!!!

I saw “Pitch Perfect 2” on my own. Bonaparte would have shuddered at the girliness and singing. I thought it was cute though.


What girl didn’t want to start singing after watching any “Pitch Perfect” movie?

Unfortunately, the selection of films this summer was zero to none. We literally had a train wreck of summer movies to choose from!


This wreck basically describes this summer’s mess of movies for adults!

It makes me wonder just what happened to the standards of screenwriting in Hollywood.

But. The slim selection got me to thinking…..and so I give you a flashback in time… Are you ready??????

One of my first “dates” with Bonaparte was a movie date. This was a bit different in that he didn’t tell me what movie we were going to see.

All I knew was that “Zuh mohvee ‘ed a beet of evrazin”.

Translation: The movie had a bit of everything.

We drove to an old movie theatre in Bala Cynwyd, close to Philly.   As we approached the theatre, I saw the name of the film we were to see was “A Very Long Engagement’.   As I entered the theatre, I noticed that the film was a French film starting Audrey Tautou.

The Bala Theater, formerly the Egyptian, was built in 1926.

The Bala Theater, formerly the Egyptian, was built in 1926.

Unfortunately, the theatre is now closed!

I also remember thinking it funny that Bonaparte was taking me to see a French film because we never talked about the kinds of movies we liked—it was obvious he wasn’t aware of my love of French Cinema!

The movie was great. An epic about WWI and lost love. The story’s message was great—never gives up searching! The costumes were right up my alley. Plus—a surprise role by the talented and bi-lingual Jodie Foster was a treat. What could be better?

A Very Long Engagement

Unbeknownst to Bonaparte, this American woman happened to be a huge fan of French flicks! “A Very Long Engagement” has since won a place in my top ten favorites of all time!

I cried. I laughed. I sighed. My heartstrings were tugged. My tissues were soaked.

When the movie ended, Bonaparte mentioned to me that he was extremely happy that I enjoyed the movie. But, I detected something deeper…

I looked at him with my raccoon eyes—thanks to non-waterproof mascara, and asked him just what he meant by that remark.

His answer went something like this:

“Eez impor’an to me zhat you lik Fhranch feem.” “Ah cahnnit be whiz a woh-mahn ‘ou dohn nit like Fhranch feemz!” “Ou pazz zuh tez!” “Em so ‘eppy!”

Translation: “It is important to me that you like French film.” “I cannot be with a woman who doesn’t like French films.” “You pass the test!” “I’m so happy!”

Honestly, at that moment I didn’t know whether to slap Bonaparte or drive away. Then I stopped and realized—this is what life could be like with a Frenchman.

We’ve been watching movies “togehzahr” since!

I did go on to explain to Monsieur Bonaparte that I had been a fan of French film for a long, long time. Back when I was single and living in New York City, I would often times catch a Truffaut film at the old Thalia theatre on West 95th Street off Broadway. My old neighborhood.


The”thalia” theatre.  I spent many weekend hours here whenever a French film was shown.

I was introduced to the world of Francois Truffaut:

400 Blows. One of the best films of all time.

The movie that did it for me.  Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows”. The first of his feature films and the first film to introduce Truffaut’s alter ego, Antoine Doinel. Based on the delinquent adventures of Truffaut’s difficult childhood, this movie had comedy and touching drama. Making it one of the greatest films ever made.  If you get the chance, please see it.  You will thank me!


Another great Truffaut film, “Jules et Jim”, about a tragic love triangle.

The Man who loved women. Charles Denner. The sexiest voice in Cinema

I actually had a long, long crush on Charles Denner after seeing “The Man Who Loved Women”–a touching comedy/drama.  No man will ever come close to having the sexy speaking voice that Charles Denner had. Period!

The Thalia is the place I learned to love French Films.

Calmos poster

“Calmos” was probably the most sexist movie I had ever seen in my life–but it was funny as Hell and I still laugh when I think about these two idiot men and their war with Amazonian women. Completely politically incorrect and great!

What exactly is it about French film that I love? Well, for one, the comedies are truly, truly funny. There is no such thing as “Politically Correctness” when it comes to the comedies of the French. They will make fun of everyone—and for a good laugh and a reminder that we really need to laugh at ourselves!

Many of the French dramas are incredibly moving and just touch the heart and tug at your emotions. The French know love. They know heartbreak. They know what it’s like to have families torn apart. Bonaparte’s dad summed it up in one simple sentence.  “The war destroyed families.”

Monsieur Klein

I still get choked up and my stomach does flip-flops at the mere mention of the film “Monsieur Klein”.  Alan Delon plays a Roman Catholic art dealer in a case of mistaken identity because of his name. Intense moments ensue during the Nazi Occupation. I recommend this to all. When the movie ended, I was literally speechless.  DVD is available on Amazon and Netflix (DVD only).

Anyway, if you are or are not familiar with French film, may I give you an offering of just a few the French films that I recommend? Note—there will be some shameless plugs for some of the movies that Bonaparte’s family has made and starred in!

Here we go-go!


“Amelie”. I watch this on a regular basis. The innocence of the quirky and lovely Amelie Poulain shines through in this movie about longing for love.  I cry during the Nino/Amelie scene–Ohhhhh. No spoilers!  I don’t want to ruin it if you haven’t seen it! Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet created a masterpiece of a story and a visual!


If you loved “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” you will enjoy “Priceless”. Audrey Tautou and the wonderful Gad Elmaleh play a couple of con-artists in Monte Carlo. It’s a light treat!

Le Gare de boutons

The original version of “La Guerre des Boutons” is the best. Filmed on Bonaparte’s Aunt’s and Uncle’s estate, it shows kids as they should be. Non-precocious–just kids having a war the way kids do!  Bonaparte’s half-brothers are also in the movie–and they are really good! This movie was a tremendous success in France!

The Chorus

“The Chorus”–This is a film that is great for families to see. It’s told in flashback about the influence that one teacher had on the students in a French boarding school for “difficult” boys. Have tissues handy!

Brice de Nice

Before he was “The Artist”, Jean Dujardin starred in many films. Among them, this take on surfer movies. It is such a ridiculously funny movie.  All the surfing stereotypes are there.  Word is that a sequel is in the making–I cannot wait!

OSS 117 Cairo…speaking of Dujardin and “The Artist”. Michael Hazanavicius, director of “The Artist”, and his actress wife, Berenice Bejo, also of the same film, teamed up for “OSS 117–Cairo, Nest of Spies”. It was one of two OSS films that were made. Dujardin gets his James Bond on only to be a fumbling, sexist, dumb and politically incorrect spy.  One of the funniest scenes of any movie I’ve ever seen has him wearing a Fez while attempting to be a musician!  Greatness!


More political incorrectness and laughs in a case of mistaken identity! Louis de Funes is so ridiculous in this movie.  His face alone will have you falling off your seat!

Jean De Florette Manon of the Spring

Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring are two great and touching films based on the works of Marcel Pagnol.   Auteuil went on to direct and star in more films based on Pagnol’s works.  “The Well Digger’s Daughter”, “Fanny” “Marius” and “Cesar” . I saw all but “Cesar” and all were beautifully shot and moving stories. Honestly, if you get the chance, try to see any one or all of these. Pagnol’s stories of live in Provence at the turn of the century are heartwarming.

My fathers gloryMore Pagnol writing as film.  Yves Robert’s verison of “My Father’s Glory” is a beautiful tribute to Pagnol’s memories of his family.  I also recommend this as family viewing. The story follows a summer in the countryside of Marseille–and a son’s relationship with his father and family. It really is a sweet film.


A madcap adventure with two RAF bombers who fall into the hands of two innocent and not-to0-bright Frenchman during the Nazi Occupation of France. It follows their travels to the unoccupied South of France. This is one funny movie about a not-so-funny event de Funes and Bourvil make a great comedic team!

Paris 36

Another movie that tackles the subject of the Nazi’s in a different way The owner of a music hall is convicted of murder.  His friends come up with a way to get the music hall back and running while the owner is sent away–the film is shot in flashback. It’s a drama with music–but it works!

Paris Je T'Aime

The incredible Franco/American  “Paris, Je T’Aime”.  A fascinating collection of different vignettes set in and around Paris.  It’s pretty much readily available.  It’s such a beautiful movie too. I think I’ll watch it after I finish writing! You’ll see lots of familiar faces–including Natalie Portman!

Welcome to the Ch'tis

Welcome to the Sticks”. Danny Boon directed and start in this comedy about a “city sophisticate” who gets transferred to the French version of …well, the sticks..or what we deem the equivalent of “hillbilly country”…it’s pretty funny and was a huge success throughout France–the French can certainly laugh at themselves. And that’s a good thing!


If you want swashbuckling adventure along with laughs, “Cartouche” is for you! Thievery, adventure, love and lust, history–all bundled up in two hours of pure entertainment!  THIS is a great alternative to the violent films of today! Honestly, I know it’s outdated but “Cartouche” is just so much fun!


The first “Angelique” movie had me hooked! Michele Mercier stars as the brave and adventurous “Angelique”. Follow her search for Jeoffrey, the man to whom she is to marry.  Her adventures include being captured by a Sultan, her travels to Versailles and her never-ending search for her love.  The funny part is that in every one of the five movies, Angelique is seen partially disrobed. It’s a total “WTF?”–but it’s just so…..so….FRENCH!!  I think I shall be Angelique for Halloween!

Romy Schneider as Sissi

Romy Schneider as Sissi

More French “Girl Power”! Romy Schneider plays “Sissi”. The young Empress Elizabeth of Austria. The three films about The Empress are a fun way to learn some history about the Hapsburg era.  These films are also great for young girls to see as well. Sissi is shown as a feisty and spirited girl–which is positive!


Before the version with Leslie Caron, there was the ORIGINAL “Gigi”–starring Bonaparte’s aunt, Daniele Delorme.  TMC shows this movie every so often–and includes the English subtitles. If you ever get the chance…… Click on the link below to see a clip!

Daniele Delorme in the ORIGINAL “GiGi”

A l'abri des regards indesgrets

Here’s a fun short that Bonaparte’s cousin Hugo Gelin made some years ago. It takes place from the “eyes” of an ATM.  Watch the link below and spot some familiar faces!

Not every French film is a winner. I’ve seen some that are just wayyyyy too “talky”..and some that are just annoying.  But the ones that I like and love and treasure outnumber the ones that are lousy.  There are so many more films I would like to share with you–but I think I will make that yet another post!

Au Revour for today…and I’ll leave you with this…Yann Tiersen’s “La Valse Des Montres” from the film “Amelie”!  Ohlalalalalalal!!!!! XOXOXO!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
This entry was posted in Borvil, Charles Denner, Daniele Delorme, Dany Boon, Hugo Gelin, Jean duJardin, Louis de Funes, Yves Robert and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to What Bonaparte Didn’t Know—My Love for French Cinema!

  1. Tejaswi says:

    wow, you really are a French movie fan.. I haven’t even watched half of those.. but then 🙂 you are married to a frenchman too, so I guess it is not too difficult to imagine..
    I laughed at the conversation you had with Bonaparte hahaha… But come on, even you are mocking the French now 😀

    Nice recommendations, will check them out soon.. 🙂 xoxoxo

    • Catherine says:

      LOL. I mock my Frenchman with love and admiration!

    • Judy says:

      Hi Cathe! I am just now catching up on your blog for September … I was in Paris for two weeks lately (though, alas, it was not the best trip)… I too love French film! I always go to the Rendez Vous with French Cinema every March at Lincoln Center, and this past trip to Paris I did see one film, sans sous-titres: “Marguerite” with Catherine Frot (love her!). I am not as knowledgeable about some of the older French films so I will take your recommendations!
      Also loved that short film by Bonaparte’s cousin. I have to tell you also that I am your age (coming up on my 61st on Monday!) and also suffer from a lot of anxiety etc. but I think you are very successful and lucky! You have three lovely children and a loving partner and a great home. Who cares about a job??? Your blog is great.

      • Catherine says:

        Hi Judy. Welcome back! I’m sorry to hear it wasn’t your best trip–but it’ll only make the next trip better! You are so lucky to have seen Marguerite. In the first place, Catherine Frot is one of my favorite actresses. Did you see Haute Cuisine? She was adorable in that. She has also made a series of mystery films with Andre Dussollier–they are a husband and wife and she’s always getting into some sort of trouble. Bonaparte’s sister knew her and said she was incredibly nice. Presently, Bonaparte’s cousin is directing a film starring Omar Sy and Clemence Poesey. I cannot wait to see it! I’m telling you, I miss NYC so much because of the availability of foreign films. Philadelphia has crap–the Landmark theatres here usually have decent French films, but they are gone in a week. It’s so frustrating! Thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you are back and hope you continue reading! XOXOXO!!!

  2. Olive Ole says:

    Funny you posted this today! I just finishwd a french movie!

    The Karate Kid saw this movie in french class, and mussed much of the dialogue. So we put it on tonight. Love it!

    Im sure you have seen it already, but for others it might be a good tip!


    • Catherine says:

      Ahhh. “The Intouchables”! Not only did I see it, but I read the book! Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet made a great team. I LOVED that movie. It was beautiful–and a true story! I would definitely recommend! XOXOXO!!!

  3. calensariel says:

    Well I know nothing about French films, but I found this post very informative. Now I know who Francois Truffaut is, but only because he was in Close Encounters of the Third Kind! I also have to admit that Gigot with Jackie Gleason was one of my favorite movies when I was in junior high school. And it took place in Paris! There, now you know all I know about French films. I did take a YEAR of French in 9th grade. I can still remember the phrase “donnez-moi le livre”. How appropriate that’s one of the few things I would hang on to!

    • Catherine says:

      LOL–I took French during my 9th grade year too. I remembered nothing!!!!! I swear I have no recollection of the Jackie Gleason Gigot movie–I’m going to have to look for it. But Francois Truffaut made the best movies. I’m telling you–you HAVE to rent 400 blows and The Man who Loved Women!!! XOXOXO!!!

  4. nathalie says:

    JO FRAIS !!!!!!!!!!!!we often laugh with my friends (all about 50 years old…) and we al know what about it is !!!! Angelique and her famous shout : Joffrey !!!!!!!but we admit she was very “bioutifoulle”!!!amitiés

    • Catherine says:

      Oh Nathalie. That is sooooooo funny. You have no idea how many times I’ve also shouted “JO FRAIS!!!!!! Those Angelique movies just make you want to yell for Joffrey!!! I only wish that Angelique had more adventures!! Hahahaha!! XOXOXO!!!

  5. maidsdayoff says:

    I love Amelie! That’s the only one I’ve seen, so I’ll have to check the rest out. I also love Diabolique (the 1955 version with Simone Signoret, not the crappy American remake with Sharon Stone!)

    • Catherine says:

      Simone Signoret trivia! Bonaparte’s aunt, Daniele was best friends with Simone Signoret. She and Yves Montand lived over on Place Dauphine just up the street from Bonaparte’s aunt’s apartment. Ugh. Sharon Stone–lol! We just finished watching The 400 Blows again. Do you have Netflix? There is a great documentary about the New Wave films of the French. It was great–I highly recommend. Oh..and Amelie will continue to reign as best. movie. ever! XOXOXO

  6. Judy says:

    Just saw “My Golden Days” by Arnaud Desplechins at the NY Film Festival! And Andre Dussollier had a little part in it! (I have loved him since the 80s when he was in a Rohmer film.)
    I wanted to reply to some of your other comments but the reply function was not there …I would love to see that series with C. Frot and A. Dussolllier, what is it called? …hey, if you and Bonaparte come into NYC regularly, maybe we can meet sometime and see a French film and then get a drink afterwards!

  7. Momcat says:

    OMG!!!! I read and practically memorized every Angelique book ever written when I was a kid! I loved the author’s name Sergeanne Golon ( they were husband and wife Serge & Anne:) I think my parents thought it was some kind of soft porn because the covers were quite risqué but since they came from the library, o.k. ( my parents were pretty innocent) anyway my old chum was a huge movie fan and actually went into movie production, directing in Montréal. He introduced me to French/Italian film and I have adored it ever since. Les Enfants du Paradis with the incomparable actress Arletty, Hôtel du Nord again with Arletty and Louis Jouvet along with my all time fave…La Strada by Fellini starring his adorable wife ( now that was a love story!) Giulietta Masina, Anthony Quinn and Richard Basehart. I could watch that 1,000 times and never tire of it. Tear jerker for sure but brilliant cinema. Les enfants du Paradis combines the comical and heart wrenching that is done so well by the French it’s also one of my favourites.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Momcat! I found the other comment!!! Angelique–I’m thrilled that you are a fan. Are you a Sissy fan too? I keep telling Bonaparte he needs to get the boxed set of Angelique films for his granddaughter. It’s the greatest adventure series for girls!!! Xoxoxoxo!!!

  8. Ron Beal says:

    Hi, thanks for the recommendations! I love French films but there’s quite a few here I haven’t seen yet. Amelie actually played in my city, a rarity for a foreign language film, and I watched it twice in the theatre here! How did you like Jeunet’s Micmacs? I recently saw that, it was quite charming I thought.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Ron! I’m a huge Juenet fan and Micmacs was, surprisingly, not my favorite. I liked it–don’t get me wrong but I was expecting more. I LOVE Dany Boon and was glad he was in the film. Juenet is supposed to be working on another film and I’m eagerly waiting……and waiting!!! XOXOXOXO

  9. I have loved many of the films you recommend – I saw L’Embarras du Choix [2017] recently by sheer chance and it has many of the elements you have obviously enjoyed. I recommend you check it out?

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Nicolas. You’re not going to believe this but I saw this movie last summer in-flight on the way to France! Alexandra Lamy, who plays Juliette, is Jean dujardin’s ex-wife and she’s a good actor! The movie was light and enjoyable and was a winner!!! Thank you!!!! XOXOXOXO

  10. Saptarshi Bardhan says:

    Hi, very informative blog 😊 But I have a special request. I don’t know much about French films, but right now I am trying to watch top class good French polars or films policiers. I have already seen around 20, but I need recommendations. Can you help? I have seen – Le Samourai, Un Flic, Un Condé, Le Mataf, The Choice of Arms, Le Deuxième Souffle, Sans Sommation, Trois Hommes à Abattre… Can you recommend me a long list or any good website or blog for that?? 😃

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Saptarshi. Ok. Some that I loved are: Elevator to the Gallows; Jean Cocteau’s version of Beauty and the Beast (yes..as a film policiers) Jeux Interdits. A GREAT one, starring my husband’s aunt, Daniele Delorme is Voici le temps des Assassins. Monsieur Klein starring Alain Delon is a WWII film noir favorite too!

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