2 July 2002 | dbdumonteil
Very entertaining,and quite mad!
The highbrows will turn their nose up,but like it or not ,"Caroline chérie" is a treat,a delight,sparkling like champagne and full of humor at that.
14TH July 1789:The De Bièvre family celebrates something in their old dusty castle;no,not what you're thinking of,something else :a ball,in order to marry their ugly daughter to a wealthy noble.But the girl in question has a little sister,the gorgeous Caroline (Martine Carol),18,a beauty to die for...This is the beginning of amorous and fantastic adventures,which take the audience from the streets of the Revolution to the prison de la Conciergerie,from the strange private clinic where doctor Belhomme takes in the nobles who can pay an arm and a leg to save -temporarily - their precious head to the Vendée where the counter-revolutionaries(the chouans) wage their war to restore royalty.An ironical voice -over tells it all:"the problem of the civil wars lays in the fact that,wherever you go,you get busted."
Jean Anouilh's dialogue is funny,witty,there are lines that Billy Wilder would not disown.Sometimes it even becomes sarcastic and somber,sending away the opponents (aristocrats and sans-culottes)without pronouncing in favor of either.Richard Pottier ,an underrated director,works wonders :never a dull moment with him,a sense of rhythm and of humor a lot of his colleagues could and should envy.He films so incredible scenes it's a wonder he can get away with them:an aristocrat woman(Marie Déa) hides Caroline under her mattress while she's lying on her bed,fooling the gendarmes."I feel like a pancake" the safe Caroline sighs; doctor Belhomme simulating a suicide with a corpse he got from the morgue,to allow Caroline to escape;Caroline ,"proving" to the Chouans she's a woman;Caroline's husband ,a new dignitary of the directoire government,then the day after a convict en route for the penal colony on the islands in the sun (or not).
It's a long movie (running time:2h15) ,but so many things happen you will not get bored a single minute.A lot of colorful characters appear ,and joys of joys ,even God Himself is invited for the last picture.And,believe it or not,at a time when sequels were hardly known,there were two of them "un caprice de Caroline chérie"(1952) and "le fils de Caroline chérie"(1954),both by Jean Devaivre who's no match for Pottier,both in color.Martine Carol is featured in the former (and her furtive nudity during her bath caused an outcry at the time!),but she's no longer in the latter.These sequels were ahead of their time:they were already proof positive that sequels should not be made.
But do not think twice:watch "Caroline chérie" if you can!