Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness - Sacha Guitry
Sacha Guitry (1885-1957) was a French film actor, director, screenwriter and playwright. The son of the French actor Lucien Guitry, he was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia where his father was under contract with the city's French theatre. He wrote, directed, and acted in many films, of which the best-known was perhaps 'Le Roman d'un tricheur' (1936), aka Confessions of a Cheat or The Story of a Cheat.
Although he had various acting parts in his teens, he first obtained success in 1905 as a playright with two comedies. In the following years, he became a particularly prolific and popular writer, mostly of spiritual, caustic comedies. In 1907 he went back to the stage and from then on performed in most of his own plays.
He directed his first film in 1917 - a patriotic documentary illustrating the works of various French artists such as Auguste Renoir. He also wrote and acted in another film the same year but it was not a successful experience and he turned his back on movie making for some years to come.
Guitry returned to the movie studio in 1935 to direct and act in a biography of Louis Pasteur, based on a play he wrote in 1919. Although the movie was a commercial failure, Guitry had become enamored with the process of filmmaking and from then on film was an important part of his oeuvre.
During the French Occupation in World War II, Guitry only worked with French independent producers and did not allow his plays to be performed in Germany, but he also managed to maintain a lavish lifestyle in sharp contrast to the deprivation facing most of the country. In 1944, after the liberation of Paris, he was arrested after being anonymously denounced. He was set free two months later with no official charges but was forbidden to appear on stage or screen until 1947 when he was cleared of any wrong-doing. By this time his reputation was tarnished and from then on he frequently faced hostility from the press.
In the decade from 1947 to his death, he continued to be prolific, writing new plays, reviving old successes, penning screenplays, directing movies. But the cheerfulness of the pre-war works was replaced by a more acerbic humor. By 1953 his health was deteriorating so he gave up stage acting but continued to write and direct up until his death in 1957.
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