Jean Marais (1913-98) was an icon of classic French cinema. The muse (and lover) of director Jean Cocteau, you may know him from the fantasy film Beauty and the Beast (1946) — which, don’t tell me I forgot to include it, it’s fantasy! He starred in numerous historical roles, including some hilarious-appearing swashbucklers. Let’s look at one of the French greats!
A big-screen version of the famous opera, with Marais as Don José.
The Royalists (1947)
Based on a Balzac novel, which is set in 1799 Brittany during the post-Revolutionary War uprising there. Marais plays the lead, the Marquis of Montauran.
Ruy Blas (1948)
Based on a Victor Hugo play, set in 1695 Spain, a slave (Marais) falls in love with the queen (Danielle Darrieux) and rises in status.
The Secret of Mayerling (1949)
As Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria, who famously committed suicide along with his lover in 1889.
A “Don Juan” in 1810s France has his nose cut off and is forced to wear a mask. That’s all I’ve got!
Royal Affairs in Versailles (1954)
As French king Louis XV in this episodic meander through the history of the palace of Versailles.
As the marquis de Montholon in director Sacha Guitry’s epic take on the French emperor. Sadly, this is the only image I can find of Marais from the film!
The Count of Monte Cristo (1954)
A two-part film adaptation of the famous novel, with Marais as Edmond Dantès and the titular Comte de Monte-Cristo.
If Paris Were Told to Us (1956)
As Renaissance king François I in yet another episodic meander through French history.
King on Horseback (1958)
A swashbuckler set in the mid-18th century.
Captain Blood (1960)
Another swashbuckler (strap in, there’s going to be a lot of these), this one set in 1616.
The Battle of Austerlitz (1960)
A film focused on Napoleon’s 1805 victory against the Russian and Austrian armies. Marais plays Lazare Carnot, a French politician who initially supported Napoleon, but opposed his power grab of consul-for-life.
Captain Fracasse (1961)
Buckle your swashes! This time we’re in the 17th century.
Napoleon II l’Aiglon (1961)
A film about Napoleon’s son (who was briefly emperor in 1815 upon Napoleon’s abdication, but didn’t actually rule). Marais plays General de Montholon, a military general who supported Napoleon I.
Princess of Cleves (1961)
Set in the 1550s, the titular princess is married to an older man (Marais) but falls in love with a younger man.
The Miracle of the Wolves (1961)
Swashbuckling in the 15th century.
Romulus and the Sabines aka The Rape of the Sabine (1962)
The famous “rape of the Sabine women” from ancient Roman history. Marais plays the god Mars.
Pontius Pilate (1962)
As the Roman politician who condemned Jesus to death.
Seven Guys and a Gal (1967)
People, this looks so snark-worthy! Marais plays a general in the Napoleonic Wars. Bouffants abound.
Joseph Balsamo (1973)
As the famous mesmerist “Count Cagliostro,” the originally Italian adventurer who became famous in 1780s Europe.
What’s your favorite of Jean Marais’s frock flicks roles?