I am not certain this historical adventure altogether suits the directorial style of Jacqueline Audry. The action sequences do not quite come off but she is at her very best in the intimate scenes, of which there are thankfully quite a few.
Written by Cecil Saint-Laurent, best known for his series 'Caroline Cherie', this concerns the mission of the Chevalier Charles d'Eon to disrupt the potential alliance between Russia and Prussia. The story is given added piquancy by the fact that Charles is actually Genevieve!
Charles/Genevieve is played by Andree Debar in her last film before going into production. She is no great shakes as an actress but her androgynous looks make her ideal casting and her scenes with the lusty Dragoon of Gabriele Ferzetti work very well.
Husband and wife team Jean Desailly and Simone Valere play Louis XV and his maitresse-en-titre Madame de Pompadour and I regret never having seen either of these excellent artistes on stage. One cannot fail to mention the divine Dany Robin as la Comtesse de Monval.
The film is really made worthwhile by the impressive scenes in the Russian court involving Catherine the Great. As Russia's longest-serving female ruler she is depicted here as astute, autocratic, vain, sexually voracious and cruel, having not the slightest hesitation in giving anyone who displeases her a one-way ticket to Siberia. This role is a veritable gift to any actress and she is played to perfection here by the wondrous and magnificent Isa Miranda who relishes every second on screen. She is seamlessly dubbed by Jaqueline Porel.
This film boasts tremendous production values and looks glorious in both Eastmancolor and the essentially French 'Dyaliscope'.
Jacqueline Audry is an unfairly neglected director and although this piece has merit I would not necessarily rush to recommend it to anyone who is coming to her films for the first time. It remains however a most pleasing way of spending an hour and a half.