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            Maximilienne

            Biografie

            In his sketches, popular French comedian'Fernand Raynaud' was often bullied by a self-righteous sharp-tongued spinster called Mademoiselle Lelongbec, the parish organist. Tall, lean and unattractive, Maximilenne (born Henriette Genty in 1884) seemed born to play the part and she WAS the obvious choice for director Robert Darène when, in 1958, he prepared to film a Fernand Raynaud's vehicle entitled "Houla Houla". Donning the attire of Mlle Lelongbec Maximilenne had the distinguished opportunity to nag poor Fernand, on the big screen this time around. A role that epitomizes a long screen career, spanning the three decades between the advent of the sound period and the birth of the French New Wave. During this time, she embodied innumerable female authority figures such as a mother superior ("La route enchantée"), a school mistress ("Simplet"), the headmistress of a reform school("Prison sans barreaux"), a Salvation Army general ("L'armoire volante") or a princess ("Le disque 1413"). She was rarely married in her films, most of the time she was the narrow-minded old maid. She was at her best as such in the role of one of the boarding house guests in Henri-Georges Clouzot's 1942 masterpiece "L'assassin habite au 21". And when she had indeed married in a movie, she was usually a widow: her late husband had chosen to leave life prematurely to escape her! Occasionally one of the old maids and aunts she was given to play were affectionate, notably in Fritz Lang's "Liliom " (1933). But whether her characters were good or bad, Maximilienne had been one of those colorful character actors and actresses the French cinema of the classic era could not do without. And she will be fondly remembered for that.

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