Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Born Today February 14: Ernest Legouve


French dramatist Ernest Legouve was born Valentine's Day in Paris; his birth name was Gabriel Jean Baptiste Ernest Wilifrid Legouvé.  Though writing came as an inheritance--his father was a poet, and his grandfather was a well known writer and reader--his young life was rocked with tragedy.  His mother died when he was only 3, and his father was soon after placed in lunatic asylum.  The family was extremely well-of and he inherited that fortune at this young age and was carefully educated by a tutor.  By his early 20's he was already an award winning poet and would go on to find success and fame both inside and outside of academia.  Today he is by far most well known for the collaborative play Andrienne Lecouvreur, which he wrote with A. E. Scribe.  He is also known for being the grandfather of the French writer Maurice Desvailliéres.  Almost all the films that have used his work as source material have been based on that play.  In the silent era, 5 films were produced using his work for screenplays, the first coming in 1913 with a French short rendition of Adrienne Lecouvreur, which is unfortunately a lost film.  The last silent film made from his work was Dream Of Love, starring Joan Crawford. The first sound film to use his work for a film production came in 1929 with Devil-May-Care, a comedic musical, starring Dorothy Jordan and the tragic "other Latin Lover" Ramon Novarro.  The sound was by Western Electric System and the film sported one color sequence with the early Technicolor 2-strip technique. The most recent film to be produced from his work came in 2000 with a very lavish production of Adrienne Lecouvreur, under the title Adriana Lecouvreur, made in Italy.  Lagouve died in Paris at the age of 96 (!) on 14 March 1903, exactly one month after his birthday.  He was a lifelong proponent of physical exercise and made fencing his sport and workout of choice.  He is buried in Paris' Cimetiere de Montmarte.

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