Hugon, André

(1886-1960)
   Director, producer, and screenwriter. André Hugon was born in Algiers, at the time a French territory. He began his career in the silent-film era as a screenwriter for Pathé, where he worked on Georges Monca's Rigadin series (1912), among other projects. Hugon also directed films for Pathé or one of its subsidiaries for a number of years. These included Beauté fatale (1916), L'Empreinte (1916), Le Bonheur qui revient (1917),Mariage d'amour (1917), Requins (1917), Un crime a été commis (1919), and Les Chères images (1920). He did a number of films featuring the stage and screen star Mistinguett, such as Chignon d'or (1916), Fleur de Paris (1916), and Mistinguette Détective (1917), as well as several films with the actress Musidora, including Mam'zelle Chiffon (1917), Les Chacals (1917), and Johannes fils de Johannes (1918).
   In 1920, Hugon left Pathé and established his own production company, Films André Hugon. The company produced all of Hugon's films for the rest of his career, lasting from 1920 to 1952. In fact, it is as an independent director that Hugon is best remembered. Working independently gave Hugon the freedom to make the type of films he was most interested in, and it is the films from this independent period that best define his work. There is a clear affinity between many of Hugon's films and those of another important independent filmmaker of the time, Marcel Pagnol, of whom Hugon was a close friend. Both made films with a strong southern French influence and both often worked with the actor Raïmu. Both also made films that were extremely popular in their time. However, whereas Pagnol has become something of an icon of French cinema, Hugon's works have been all but forgotten, for reasons that are not entirely clear.
   Of the films that Hugon made between 1920 and 1952, a number have close Provence connections. These include Roi de Camargue (1922), Le Diamont noir series (1922), Notre dame d'amour (1924), all based on novels by the Provençal writer Jean Aicard, Le Petit chose (1923), based on the novel by Alphonse Daudet, and Les Trois masques (1929), Maurin des Maures (1932), L'Illustre Maurin (1933), Gaspard de Besse (1935), Romarin (1936), La Rue sans joie (1938), Chambre 13 (1940), and L'Affaire du Grand Hôtel (1946), all of which are set in Provence. In addition to the Provence connection, a number of Hugon's films also feature the Maghreb, or North Africa, where Hugon himself was born. These include La Croix du sud (1931), Le Marchand de sable (1931), and Sarati, le terrible (1937).
   Other films made by Hugon include Jacques Landauze (1920), La Preuve (1921), Rue du pavé d'amour (1923), L'Arriviste (1924), La Grande passion (1928), La Femme et le rossignol (1930), Les Vingt-huit jours de Clairette (1933), Chourinette (1933), Gangster malgré lui (1935), Le Héros de la Marne (1939), and Moulin Rouge (1940).
   Hugon's career made the transition to sound cinema, and in fact, his film, Les Trois masques (1929), was the first sound film made in French. His filmmaking seemed to lose no momentum with the coming of sound. In fact, he seemed to embrace sound, even making musicals during his career. Hugon actually had quite a broad range as a filmmaker, making everything from comedy to drama to mystery. One testament to Hugon's stature as a filmmaker was the fact that his production company was able to survive at a time when most other independent studios failed in a period of a year or two. Another indicator of his stature was the type of actor he was able to attract to his films. At various points, Hugon worked with Lucien Baroux, Harry Baur, Jules Berry, Pierre Blanchar, Pierre Brasseur, Julien Carette, René Dary, Josette Day, Jean Debucourt, Hugette Duflos, Duvallès, Ginette Leclerc, Françoise Rosay, Dita Parlo, Albert Préjean, and of course Raïmu. The comic actress Mireille also frequently appeared in his films.
   As noted, Hugon fell from grace in the 1950s. His films were no longer appreciated, and they ceased to be distributed. This may, in part, explain why so little attention has been paid to him since. One may imagine that if almost no one has seen his films for more than fifty years, there is no reason for anyone to have any interest in them. However, it is difficult to imagine that someone who once had the degree of popular appeal that Hugon had, someone who was once able to draw the best actors and supporting actors in French cinema, someone who was once regarded as on a par with one of the icons of French cinema, has nothing in his work that is worth remembering.

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hugon, André — (1886 1960)    Director, producer, and screenwriter. André Hugon was born in Algiers, at the time a French territory. He began his career in the silent film era as a screenwriter for Pathé, where he worked on Georges Monca s Rigadin series (1912) …   Guide to cinema

  • Hugon, André — (Jean Hugon / December 17, 1886, Algiers, Algeria August 22, 1960, Cannes, Alpes Maritimes, France)    A former film journalist for Paris Midi, Excelsior, and Le Temps, he launched an illustrated movie magazine, Cinéma Théâtre, in 1918. He wrote… …   Encyclopedia of French film directors

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