Thursday, September 7, 2017

Born Today September 7: Émile Chautard


Director and actor Émile Chautard was born on this day in Paris, France.  He started acting on the stage of Paris and quickly transitioned to film--one source gives that he entered films in 1905, but there is little recorded information to back this up.  He is known for sure to have appeared in Fouquet, l'homme au masque de fer (1910) an historical short in which he played King Louis XIV of France.  The film was a Pathé Fréres production.  He is credited with his first directorial outing that same year as well; Barberine--a comedic short--was produced under the original Eclair company (which started in the 1900's as a French production company)--this would wind up being an important connection for Chautard.  Chautard continued on as an in-house director for Eclair, directing numerous shorts for them between 1910 and 1913!  In a few of these, he directed himself; and at least one title, An Accused Inheritance (1911), he both wrote and acted in the film that he also directed (though he had been writing since 1910--his first filmed scenario was After the Fall of the 'Eagle' (1910)). In 1913, Chautard became the head of film production for the entire French Eclair studio, but the call of film from across "the pond" was too strong and he left for the United States in 1914, landing at World Film at the end of that year.  The last film that he made in France was L'indépendance de la Belgique en 1830 in late 1914.  His first English language US production was The Arrival of Perpetua in 1915.  By this time World Film had amassed a whole staff of French auteur directors and Chautard's managerial experience helped  propel him into a role of mentor at the company (his most well known apprentice was Josef von Sternberg).  By 1918 he was free and clear of contractual obligations at World, he worked for various other production companies, eventually starting his own, short lived, production venture.  The one film that he managed to get produced on his own was The Mystery of the Yellow Room (1919).  Chautard remained in the director's chair through 1924, with Untamed Youth being his last turn as a director.  Chautard remembered his early acting roles with fondness and turned back exclusively to acting in 1926 in Paris At Midnight, a film featuring Lionel Barrymore.  He continued to act well into the talking era, with Marianne being his last silent film appearance in 1929 (ironically a remake of a film that he had appeared in that had sound [see below] in 1929 (1929/II on IMDb)) .  He had already worked on films featuring sound, however.  He worked on several partial silents, with Lilac Time in 1928 apparently being the first.  His first full sound film also came early, with Marianne--the original to the remake mentioned above (he also acted in the early sound horror House Of Horror in 1929 that had two versions--one with sound, the other silent). He continued to act well into the 1930's; in fact, right up until the time of his death.  Chautard died on the 24th of April in 1934 in Los Angeles of organ failure at the age of 69 (at least one source erroneously gives his birth year as 1881--which would have put him at just 53 when he died--this is ridiculous considering that he was, for a time, the step-father of George Archainbaud).  The last film that he appeared in was Villa, Villa! in 1934.  He is interred at The Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  

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