Repertory Picks

Swashbuckling Romance in D.C.

On Saturday afternoon, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., will raise the curtain on Christian-Jaque’s period adventure Fanfan la Tulipe (1952). Screening in a series of films that evoke the spirit of rococo artist Jean Honoré Fragonard, whose paintings are featured in a soon-to-close exhibition at the museum, this stunt-filled eighteenth-century-set romance tells the story of a swaggering army recruit (Gérard Philipe) and a fortune-telling fraud (Gina Lollobrigida). Though his reputation suffered with the onset of the New Wave, Christian-Jaque was one of the leading French directors of his day, and Fanfan la Tulipe was his most rousing success, picking up a top prize at Cannes on its way to becoming an international sensation. As critic Kenneth Turan writes in his liner essay for our release, the film is ““an example of a kind of crowd-pleasing mainstream French costume drama that has become a lost art form.”

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