Solange Bussi

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1910) di Colette. Scen.: Colette. F.: Rudolph Maté, Louis Née. M.: Solange Bussi. Scgf.: Claude Dauphin. Mus.: Charles Borel-Clerc, Saint-Granier. Ass. regia: Colette de Jouvenel. Int.: Marcelle Chantal (Renée Néré), Fernand Fabre (Maxime), Jeanne Fusier-Gir (Margot), Jean Wall (Adolphe), Magdeleine Bérubet (Blandine), Christiane Delyne (Marthe), Robert Quinault (Brague-Wague). Prod.: Les Exclusivités Artistiques. 35mm. D.: 66’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Colette and Henri Gauthier-Villars (aka Willy) were divorced on June 21, 1910, one month after the instalments of La Vagabonde started running in the weekly magazine “La Vie parisienne”. Like Renée Néré, the heroine of her novel, Colette had been earning her life as a music hall dancer and mime ever since the de facto separation from Willy in 1906. In La Vagabonde she observes how shy adoration (male) turns into possessiveness and how independence (female) is undermined by loneliness and a precarious existence; she portrays her colleagues as a lovable bunch of ever hungry, tired and resilient stage artists and, in a few terrible paragraphs, indicts her former husband as a fraud, a liar and a manipulative compulsive seducer.
1910 moreover saw the stage debut of Musidora; very likely she chose to be a music hall artist following the example of Colette, her idol. The two met and became life-long friends. When in early 1917 F.A.I. acquired the film rights of La Vagabonde Colette proposed Musidora for the role of Renée Néré, and she was present on the set in Rome (we have her texts describing the shooting). This first adaption of La Vagabonde, directed by Ugo Falena, seems lost, and the same was presumed to be the case of the second film version, the 1931 Vagabonde by Solange Bussi. In 2017, for the Cinema Ritrovato programme Colette and Cinema, nothing could be found for screening but the trailer.
Here now, out of the blue, the complete second Vagabonde, coda to the Colette strand and opening of the Musidora programme. The print turned up in the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique; it was found by Didier Bertrand, cinéphile and spectator of our festival for many years, helped in his search by fellow cinéphiles Jacques Lourcelles and Marc Leparquier. We thank them and the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique for an extraordinary rediscovery. The debut film by Solange Bussi (who then was 24 years old and would become a prolific scenario writer after the war as Solange Terac) gets us hooked through the understated elegance of the image (camera: Rudolf Maté), the particular use of sound and the cool modernism of the characters: Marcelle Chantal looking like a masculine Garbo, Fernand Fabre with a preposterous lipstick and, in the role of Brague-Wague, the wonderful dancer Robert Quinault.

Mariann Lewinsky

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