La Duchesse de Gidgette
I have been waiting for the French to get even with us. For years we have been adapting their films into American. “La Grande Illusion”, the elegaic portrait of French society amidst the chaos of World War I, simply needed some car chases to become “Smokey and the Bandit.” And Last Year at Marienbad” actually is a little more coherent as “Meatballs.”
Well, I think that the French now have their revanche. As I was watching “La Princesse de Montpensier”, I felt an increasing familiarity with the story. Marie thinks school is a drag; she got to be a countess without learning to write. That really cool Henri loves her the way she is. Alas, her parents would rather she dated that drip Francois. He is a prince and Henri is only a duke. And there is that nosy Mrs. deMedici who has an opinion about everything.
Mon Dieu, I was watching a French version of a 1960s Frankie and Annette movie. There were a few differences. “La Princesse” takes place in 16th century France rather than on a California beach, and the sport is killing Huguenots instead of surfing. Of course, being French this version of Annette didn’t wait until marriage.
Let’s transpose the American cast into the French setting. Annette Funicello is countess Marie, Frankie Avalon is Henri Duc de Guise, Bob Denver is the Prince of Montpensier, Peggy Cass is Catherine de Medici and Paul Lynde is Nostradamus.
And now we can wait for the American remake of the French remake.