9 February 1897
|Died||5 March 1965 68) (aged|
Jaque Catelain (9 February 1897 – 5 March 1965) was a French actor who came to prominence in silent films of the 1920s, and who continued acting in films and on stage until the 1950s. He also wrote and directed two silent films himself, and he was a capable artist and musician. He had a close association with the director Marcel L'Herbier. (He was born as Jacques Guérin-Castelain;  other variations of his name used at different times were Jaque-Catelain, Jacques Catelain, Jacques Catelin, and Jacque Cathelain.)
Jaque Catelain was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in the Pavillon Henri IV (he was said to have been born in the same room as Louis XIV). His father was then the mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and also moved in literary and theatrical circles, which allowed the young Jacques to encounter many famous names in his childhood, including Catulle Mendès, Anatole France, Sarah Bernhardt, and Gabrielle Réjane.  He showed early enthusiasm for the arts and music, and at the age of 16 he entered the Académie Julian in Paris to study fine arts. With the outbreak of war in the following year, he changed direction and chose to study acting at the Conservatoire, enrolling in the class of Paul Mounet, before being mobilised into the artillery. 
In 1914 Catelain met Marcel L'Herbier, then a writer and critic, who became a major influence on his life and career, and with whom he formed a lifelong friendship. When L'Herbier began directing films in 1917, Catelain became his leading man of choice and starred in twelve of his silent films, starting with Le Torrent. The first major role to attract attention was that of the dissolute son of a Breton fisherman in L'Homme du large (1920). This was followed by El Dorado , Don Juan et Faust, L'Inhumaine , and Le Vertige , and they made Catelain into a leading star who was in demand to appear in foreign films as well as in productions of other French directors such as Léonce Perret (in Kœnigsmark). In 1922 he was working in Munich under contract to a German film company  and he returned there in 1925 to appear in Robert Wiene's (silent) production of Der Rosenkavalier. Also in 1925 he was offered a seven-year contract by MGM to work in America, but he turned this down. 
Jaque Catelain's activities in this period extended beyond acting. He had already worked as an editor on L'Homme du large, and when Marcel L'Herbier set up his own production company Cinégraphic in 1922, its first project became Le Marchand de plaisirs which Catelain directed as well as acting a double role in it.  In the following year he wrote and directed a second film, La Galerie des monstres (1923/24). Both films were successful enough to cover their costs.  He devised controversial make-up for some of the actors in L'Inhumaine,  and his artistic skills were put to further use in two set designs for L'Argent  As a pianist he would sometimes step in to provide improvised accompaniment for previews of L'Herbier's films. 
Catelain successfully made the transition from silent to sound films, starring in L'Herbier's L'Enfant de l'amour (1929), but during the 1930s he took fewer leading film roles and started to act in the theatre. In February 1933 Catelain married Suzanne Vial,  a friend since childhood who had become a production assistant to L'Herbier in the 1920s and continued working with him until 1944. Soon afterwards in 1933/1934 Catelain was employed by the daily newspaper Le Journal to go to Hollywood to carry out a series of interviews with leading personalities such as Chaplin, Stroheim and Sternberg. 
In May 1940, Catelain left France for a four-month theatrical tour of South America, but within a month France was occupied by the Germans and his absence lasted for six years. In Buenos Aires he became so ill with pneumonia that he was given the last rites, but he recovered and went to Canada for the next three years for work in the theatre and propaganda broadcasts. In 1943 he was invited to Hollywood and remained there for a further three years taking bits parts and film dubbing jobs. He returned to Paris in 1946, and resumed an occasional career in films, appearing in minor roles in three of Jean Renoir's films in the 1950s. In 1950, he published a biography and appreciation of the work of Marcel L'Herbier. 
Catelain died in Paris in 1965, and he was buried in Passy Cemetery.
Jaque Catelain won considerable popularity in the early 1920s through his film roles as romantic lead or jeune premier. His good looks were of a rather bland and pretty kind which did not commend him so much to later audiences, and he was often criticised for wooden and inexpressive performances.  Some contemporary critics however, notably Louis Delluc, saw his restrained and economical technique as a significant development away from the exaggerated theatrical acting which was still common in films, and praised the sincerity and natural quality of his performances.  Catelain himself was sufficiently thoughtful on the subject of acting to develop his views about the differences between 'interior' and 'exterior' performance in a journal article published in 1925.  His own performance in L'Homme du large illustrates his understanding of the importance of movement and posture in relation to the camera frame at a time when a more 'expressionist' style of acting was common. 
Philippe Hériat was a multi-talented French novelist, playwright and actor.
Marcel L'Herbier was a French filmmaker who achieved prominence as an avant-garde theorist and imaginative practitioner with a series of silent films in the 1920s. His career as a director continued until the 1950s and he made more than 40 feature films in total. During the 1950s and 1960s, he worked on cultural programmes for French television. He also fulfilled many administrative roles in the French film industry, and he was the founder and the first President of the French film school Institut des hautes études cinématographiques (IDHEC).
Le Carnaval des vérités is a 1920 French silent film written and directed by Marcel L'Herbier.
L' Homme du large is a 1920 French silent film directed by Marcel L'Herbier and based on a short story by Honoré de Balzac. It was filmed on the rugged southern coast of Brittany creating atmosphere in a film about the forces of good and evil that motivate human behaviour.
L'Argent ("money") is a French silent film directed in 1928 by Marcel L'Herbier. The film was adapted from the 1891 novel L'Argent by Émile Zola, and it portrays the world of banking and the stock market in Paris in the 1920s.
El Dorado is a French silent film directed in 1921 by Marcel L'Herbier. The film was notable for integrating a number of technical innovations into its narrative of a "cinematic melodrama". It achieved considerable success on its release, as a ground-breaking film that was distinctively French at a time when the cinema was felt to be dominated by American productions.
L'Inhumaine is a 1924 French science fiction drama film directed by Marcel L'Herbier. It has the subtitle histoire féerique. L'Inhumaine is notable for its experimental techniques and for the collaboration of many leading practitioners in the decorative arts, architecture and music. The film caused controversy on its release.
Charles Spaak was a Belgian screenwriter who was noted particularly for his work in the French cinema during the 1930s. He was the son of the dramatist and poet Paul Spaak, the brother of the politician Paul-Henri Spaak, and the father of the actresses Catherine Spaak and Agnès Spaak.
Marcelle Pradot was a French actress who worked principally in silent films. She was born at Montmorency, Val-d'Oise, near Paris. At the age of 18 while she was taking classes in dancing and singing in Paris, she was asked by Marcel L'Herbier to appear in his film Le Bercail (1919). She went on to appear in a further eight of L'Herbier's silent films, and then in his first sound film L'Enfant de l'amour (1930) with which she ended her acting career. She was noted as an aristocratic beauty, and she was described by the critic Louis Delluc as "the Infanta of French cinema".
The Last Days of Pompeii (1950) is a black and white French-Italian historical drama, directed by Marcel L'Herbier "in collaboration with" Paolo Moffa, who was also the director of production. It was adapted from Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel The Last Days of Pompeii. The film has also been known as Sins of Pompeii.
Le Bonheur ("Happiness") is a 1934 French film directed by Marcel L'Herbier. It was adapted from Henri Bernstein's play Le Bonheur, which Bernstein had staged in Paris in March 1933 with Charles Boyer and Michel Simon in leading roles; Boyer and Simon took the same parts in the film.
La Nuit fantastique is a 1942 French fantasy film directed by Marcel L'Herbier. It is regarded as one of the most successful films made in France during the German occupation.
Feu Mathias Pascal is a 1925 French silent film written and directed by Marcel L'Herbier. It was the first film adaptation of Luigi Pirandello's novel Il fu Mattia Pascal.
Entente cordiale is a 1939 French drama film directed by Marcel L'Herbier and starring Gaby Morlay, Victor Francen and Pierre Richard-Willm. The film depicts events between the Fashoda crisis in 1898 and the 1904 signing of the Entente Cordiale creating an alliance between Britain and France and ending their historic rivalry. It was based on the book King Edward VII and His Times by André Maurois. It was made with an eye to its propaganda value, following the Munich Agreement of September 1938 and in anticipation of the outbreak of a Second World War which would test the bonds between Britain and France in a conflict with Nazi Germany.
La Comédie du bonheur is a French-Italian film directed by Marcel L'Herbier as a dual-language production. It was filmed in Rome in the early months of 1940, but after Italy joined World War II on the side of Germany, the French and Italian versions of the film were completed separately. The Italian version was released in December 1940 under the title Ecco la felicità!. The French version was released in July 1942.
La Route impériale is a 1935 French film directed by Marcel L'Herbier. It combines a romantic drama with a military adventure story, set against the contemporary background of British operations against a rebellion in the kingdom of Iraq.
La Femme d'une nuit is a 1931 French drama film directed by Marcel L'Herbier. It was made simultaneously with Italian and German versions of the same story, which were however not only in different languages but in different genres.
Little Devil-May-Care is a 1928 French-British silent drama film directed by Marcel L'Herbier and starring Betty Balfour, Jaque Catelain and Roger Karl.
La Galerie des monstres is a 1924 French drama film directed by Jaque Catelain, set against the background of a circus in Spain. It was produced by Cinégraphic, the production company of Marcel L'Herbier.
Veille d'armes is a 1935 French drama film directed by Marcel L'Herbier and starring Annabella and Victor Francen.