|Directed by||Marcel L'Herbier|
|Written by||Marcel L'Herbier|
Michel Duran (dialogue)
Henri Bernstein (play)
|Starring|| Charles Boyer |
|Edited by||Jacques Manuel|
|Music by||Billy Colson|
|111 minutes |
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.
In 1934 Marcel L'Herbier held discussions with Charles Boyer on making a film about the actor Edmund Kean, but Boyer, whose career was at that time shifting between France and Hollywood, insisted that he wanted to film Bernstein's play Le Bonheur in which he had recently starred on stage in Paris. The rights to the play were held by the Pathé-Natan company, who also had a contract with Gaby Morlay, the preferred actress of both Boyer and L'Herbier for the other leading role. 
Philippe Lutcher, an anarchist, fires a shot at Clara Stuart, a famous stage and screen actress, but only wounds her. The star, through affectation and curiosity to know his motives, pleads in his favour at his trial, but he rebuffs her pity. After he has served 18 months in prison, they meet and fall in love. Philippe however doubts Clara's sincerity, and when he sees incidents from their lives becoming part of her latest film, he leaves her. He vows that their love will continue when he sits in the dark and watches her on the cinema screen.
L'Herbier himself adapted Bernstein's play for the screenplay, in collaboration with Michel Duran for the dialogue, remaining mostly faithful to the original text while creating opportunities to use visual means of expression in place of verbal ones. He did however introduce some significant changes. The background of the cinema in the life of the actress Clara Stuart is given greater emphasis, and the introduction of the anarchist Philippe in the opening scenes establishes him in the role of a spectator of the actress, a relationship which is renewed in a new sense for the final scene of the film. Cinema is given a further element of self-reflexivity in the scenes of the film-within-the-film which is shown to be shot at the Joinville Studios with Harry Stradling as the cameraman, just like Le Bonheur. 
Filming took place at the Joinville studios in Paris in September and October 1934.  L'Herbier's assistant directors were Ève Francis and Jean Dréville.
Towards the end of filming, L'Herbier suffered an accident when a camera fell on him from an insecure track. He suffered a broken wrist and permanent damage to one eye. He undertook a prolonged legal action against the Pathé company in which the director argued for his status as an 'author' of the film rather than just a technician employed by the company. He eventually won the case, and it marked the first time that a film director in France was legally recognised as having rights of authorship in his work. 
On its release Le Bonheur proved popular with the public and was mostly well received by the French critics. Henry Bernstein also expressed his approval of the way that his play had been adapted for the cinema.  However, after three years of distribution the film largely disappeared from sight for nearly 40 years. It was only in the 1970s that it was revived and recognised as one of the most significant achievements among L'Herbier's sound films. 
In February 1935, the film was shown at the first Moscow Film Festival (albeit too late for the main competition) and it received a special "mention of honour" from the Soviet jury. 
A 2K digital restoration of the film made by Pathé in 2013 was issued on Blu-ray and DVD in 2014. 
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).
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Jaque Catelain 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.
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".
Ève Francis was an actress and film-maker. She was born in Belgium but spent most of her career in France. She became closely associated with the writer Paul Claudel, and she was married to the critic and film-maker Louis Delluc.
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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.
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