Okay, so I have a thing for Louis XV (1710-74; reigned 1715-74). Not old Louis, mind you, but hot young Louis. It mostly stems from a very vivid dream I had, in which he and I were laying on the floor in a hallway at Versailles, and let’s just say we were very friendly.
The real, non-dream Louis was born in 1710; he was the great-grandson of Louis XIV. He came to the throne at only age 5, because his grandfather (Louis XIV’s son, Louis “le Grand Dauphin”) and great-uncle died of smallpox in 1711; the following year his father (Louis, Duke of Burgundy) died of measles as did his mother. Thus there was a Regency for several years. He was initially supposed to marry Mariana Victoria of Spain, and she came to live at the French court, but that engagement was dissolved and he married Marie Leszczyńska, daughter of the deposed king of Poland, in part because she offered no political threat.
Louis was involved in several wars, including the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48) and the Seven Years War (1756-63). He and Marie Leszczyńska had ten children, among them the famously bitchy aunts who made life difficult for Marie-Antoinette, the wife of his grandson, the future Louis XVI. He was also famous for having two prominent official mistresses, Madame du Pompadour and Madame du Barry, and frequently turns up on screen in connection to them (or Marie-Antoinette) — unfortunately usually the older, not-so-hot version! He died of smallpox in 1774, leaving the throne to his grandson.
Let’s run down Louis on screen!
Madame du Barry (1917)
A silent film focused on Louis’s (Charles Clary) last official mistress (Theda Bara).
Madame du Barry (1919)
Another silent film, another du Barry (Pola Negri)! Louis was played by Emil Jannings.
Monsieur Beaucaire (1924)
Based on a 1900 novel, it’s about a duke (Rudolph Valentino) who escapes to England disguised as a barber in order to avoid marrying “Princess Henriette.” Lowell Sherman plays Louis, who is doing the forcing-to-marry.
Madame Pompadour (1927)
A silent film with Dorothy Gish as the marquise de Pompadour, and Henri Bosc as the king.
Du Barry, Woman of Passion (1930)
Norma Talmadge as du Barry, with William Farnum as the recipient of said passion.
Madame du Barry (1934)
Reginald Owen plays Louis to Dolores del Río‘s du Barry.
Marie Antoinette (1938)
Du Barry Was a Lady (1943)
Red Skelton plays Louis XV in the 18th century dream sequence to Lucille Ball‘s du Barry.
Fanfan la Tulipe (1952)
A French comedic swashbuckler, in which a man joins Louis’s (Marcel Herrand) army in order to avoid a shotgun wedding.
Madame du Barry (1954)
Another French biopic about du Barry (Martine Carol); André Luguet plays Louis as a relatively charming, comic character.
Royal Affairs in Versailles (1954)
Shadow of the Guillotine (1956)
A biopic focused on Marie-Antoinette (Michèle Morgan), but Aimé Clariond makes an appearance as her grandfather-in-law.
King on Horseback (1958)
Another swashbuckler staring Jean Marais; Jean Lara plays Louis.
Le chevalier d’Harmental (1966)
A French TV adaptation of an Alexandre Dumas novel, set during the regency period of Louis’s reign. Pascal Bressy plays the young Louis.
Madame Quinze (1969)
Another French TV movie, this one about Pompadour (who was nicknamed “Madame Quinze” – although I’m not sure why?) and Louis (Maurice Escande).
Joseph Balsamo (1973)
Another French TV adaptation, another Alexandre Dumas novel, this one about the Count di Cagliostro (an Italian magician). Louis is played by Guy Tréjan.
Monsieur Pompadour (1973)
In a French TV movie, a contemporary professor has the bad luck to have the last name Pompadour, and a wife named Antoinette (same as the marquise) who is courted by the local mayor. He goes into a dream sequence where he envisions all of them as their 18th century counterparts. Georges Guétary plays the king.
Série rose: le style pompadour (1991)
A French TV series that seems to be historical softcore porn; this episode focuses on Pompadour, and Pierre-François Pistorio plays Louis.
Everyone’s favorite episode; Ben Turner plays “King Louis.”
Jeanne Poisson, marquise de Pompadour (2006)
Vincent Perez’s turn to take on the king. I started watching this and got annoyed at their portrayal of Pompadour, but I’ll get back to it one of these days!
Marie Antoinette (2006)
Rip Torn plays the aging king in the Sofia Coppola directed, Kirsten Dunst starring biopic.
Louis XV, le soleil noir (2009)
I love the concept of a French biopic actually focused on Louis XV, but I’m not thrilled about what I’m seeing in these pics. Older Louis is played by Stanley Weber, younger by Gabriel Hallali.
The Royal Exchange (2017)
STILL DYING TO SEE THIS. STILL NOT AVAILABLE IN THE US. Young Louis XV (Igor van Dessel) is engaged to Mariana Victoria of Spain, but things don’t work out well.
Do any of these capture the hotness that was young Louis XV? Discuss!