Monday, September 23, 2013

Le puits aux trois verites (1961)

Italian Poster

After completing her work on I docli inganni in Rome in 1960, Catherine returned to France and studied acting for a few months (where and with whom I have not been able to determine) before appearing in Le puits aux trois verites in 1961.

Le puits aux trois verites, a primarily French, black and white production directed by Francois Villiers, stars Michele Morgan as Renee Pleges, an antique dealer, and Jean-Claude Brialy as Laurent Lenaud, an artist and sometimes con-man.  Catherine plays the role of Daniele Pleges, Renee's teenage daughter who has been away at school. The film is based on a novel of the same name by Jean-Jacques Gautier.

The film begins with the death of Daniele, so that fact should not be considered a spoiler.  The movie unfolds as Renee and Laurent give their differing accounts of the backstory that led to Daniele's death.  Laurent wandered into the life of Renee one day in her antique shop.  Renee half-heartedly resists the advances of Laurent, though it seems inevitable that she will give in to him.  However, before they can leave town on a weekend getaway together, Daniele arrives home unexpectedly from school, announcing that she has quit.  Ultimately, against the wishes of Renee, Daniele and Laurent end up getting married.  The remainder of the film follows the disastrous situation created by the jealous mother and immature husband. 

Le puits aux trois verites is not a bad movie, but I would also not classify it as a particularly good movie, either.  For fans of Catherine, it is a worthwhile look at Catherine's growth as an actress and person before she shot to stardom the following year with the release of La voglia matta.  In this film, Catherine starts to make good use of her mega-watt smile, but she has not yet grown into the "Catherine Spaak look."  As with I dolci inganni, Catherine once again does a good job portraying an innocent teen who reaches out for love with an older man, although in this film her role requires her to go further and play the part of a young, inexperienced wife.

Admittedly, I am completely biased, but Catherine is the most interesting thing about this film.  Not only are the characters of Renee and Laurent unlikeable, but Ms. Morgan and Mr. Brialy are just not very interesting or believable in their performances.   Brialy, in particular, is just too unbelievable in his role as Laurent, because nothing about him seems like it would be attractive to a 40ish woman.  He just comes across as a bratty, immature 26-year old con-man.  Italian-born actress Scilla Gabel has a good supporting part as the stripper girlfriend of Laurent after he splits up with Daniele.  On an interesting side-note, you can spot young Jean-Louis Trintingnant briefly in a scene at about the 74-minute mark. 

In some of the press coverage of Catherine in the U.S. in the mid-1960's, references are made to her "nude" scenes, implying that she is a rather scandalous European teenager.  For example, in the press material for The Empty Canvas, it is stated that "Catherine caused a sensation with a nude scene in 'The Three Faces of Sin'."  Presumably that reference is to a scene in the film where Daniele is posing nude for her painter-husband, Laurent.  While Catherine may or may not have actually been nude during the shooting of the scene, the camera presents nothing more than her bare back.  While that scene and other similar scenes of Catherine in that era may have been considered scandalous in some parts of the world at the time, the press fixation on Catherine as having performed a number of "nude" scenes as a teenager is misleading (at least in terms of how the public views such scenes today) and was apparently geared toward sensationalism to attract readers and movie-goers.

The film premiered in France on October 13, 1961.  Known in English-speaking countries as The Three Faces of Sin, it premiered in New York City on August 7, 1963 according to IMDB.  I have yet to see any record of that U.S. release in Variety or Box Office, nor have I ever seen any U.S. promotional material for the film, so I do not know if that U.S. release was a dubbed version or a subtitled version.  The film was released in France on DVD in 2011.

Now, for the promotional material section of this post.

Here are some press photos of Catherine in regard to promotion of the film at Cannes (along with a 1962 Japanese magazine clipping that appears to include a photo taken at the same time):

Catherine was also interviewed at Cannes as part of a television show called Les reflets de cannes, which was broadcast on May 16, 1961.  I have not yet been able to locate footage of that interview. 

Italian posters and an Italian pressbook:

A French poster:

A movie tie-in version of the novel:

Courtesy of the archives at, here are a Belgian, a Danish, and a Polish poster:

A German pressbook and two lobby cards:

Some stills:

An Icelandic program:

Mexican lobby cards:

A movie magazine cover promoting the film:

A promotional photo in the June 6, 1961 edition of Cinemonde:

An article in the November 30, 1961 edition of Cine Tele-Revue:

I have only come across three magazine covers of Catherine from 1961, a Swiss magazine, the April 1961 Paris Match and a Japanese magazine, so I am including them here for continuity.  Also included is a photo of Catherine from a December 1961 Israeli magazine.

Here is an article about Catherine from a November 1961 issue of Gioia:

There is an article on Catherine in the June 6, 1961 edition of Cinemonde:

This picture of Agnes and Catherine appeared in the October 1, 1961 edition of the French magazine Jeunesse Cinema:

Here is a French postcard with an unusual picture.  I have no idea of its date, but the picture looks to be early 1960's to me, perhaps 1961.

Here is a 1961 modeling photo of Catherine:

1 comment:

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