The Phantom Baron

Last updated
The Phantom Baron
The Phantom Baron.jpg
Directed by Serge de Poligny
Written by
Produced by
  • Aimé Frapin
  • Jean Séfert
Cinematography Roger Hubert
Edited by Jean Feyte
Music by Louis Beydts
Consortium de Productions de Films
Distributed byConsortium du Film
Release date
16 June 1943
Running time
99 minutes

The Phantom Baron (French: Le Baron fantôme) is a 1943 French drama film directed by Serge de Poligny and starring Odette Joyeux, Jany Holt, and Alain Cuny. [1] [2] It was made during the German occupation of France, and it was an example of the fantastique genre in film which was among those less likely to face difficulties with the censorship of the time. [3]



In 1826 the Countess of Saint-Hélié arrives from Paris, with her daughter Elfy and her adopted daughter Anne, at a old castle in south-west France where she intends to live with her uncle, the aged Baron Carol. His servant Toussaint tells her that the Baron has mysteriously disappeared and is a "ghost"; the countess moves into the habitable part of the house anyway. Ten years later Baron Carol has never returned, and Elfy and Anne have grown into beautiful young women. Hervé, Toussaint's nephew, who has been their childhood playmate, now lives in the game-keeper's house.

The countess wants to marry her daughter to Albéric de Marignac, a young cavalry officer, but Elfy has no dowry and his colonel opposes their marriage. Albéric seeks support from "Monseigneur", a man who pretends to be Louis XVII, escaped from the Temple prison and living anonymously in the locality. However both Elfy and Anne are secretly in love with Hervé; and Anne believes that Hervé loves Elfy.

On the eve of her engagement to Albéric, Elfy disappears and everyone joins a search of the castle. The old baron's black cat guides Anne and Hervé to a dungeon into which Elfy has fallen and fainted. Anne privately discovers a secret room nearby which contains Baron Carol's treasures, and also his mummified body which crumbles to dust when she screams. She finds the baron's testament which declares Hervé to be his son and heir. Anne keeps the document to herself.

Elfy announces that she wants to marry Hervé, angering her mother. One night, Hervé, who is prone to sleepwalking, comes to Anne's room and carries her through the castle and grounds, demonstrating that he was in love with her without acknowledging it. Anne reveals the contents of the baron's will and Hervé's fortune. Rivalries and misunderstandings lead Albéric to challenge Hervé to a duel, during which a stray shot wounds Monseigneur, who is then revealed to be a poacher called Eustache Dauphin. Elfy is reconciled to Albéric, and Anne and Hervé are united. Eustache Dauphin is appointed game-keeper to the castle.



Serge de Poligny described the origins of the film in an interview at the time of its release. He explained that the starting point was a romantic idea discovered in an old magic book (a young girl on her engagement day falls into a dungeon and finds a treasure) which he then elaborated with the addition of a story about one of the false claimants to the French throne who proliferated in the years following the execution of Louis XVI. He then spent months cycling around to find suitably picturesque locations, and selected the Château de Rauzan in Gironde and the Château de Pontarmé  [ fr ] in l'Oise. Only after establishing the spirit and mood of the production did he allow himself to consider the technical aspects of filming it [4]

The screenplay was written by Louis Chavance in collaboration with Serge de Poligny, and Jean Cocteau wrote the dialogue. The film's art direction was by Jacques Krauss and the costumes were designed by Christian Dior. Apart from the location filming at Rauzan and Pontarmé, the interiors for the film were shot at the Saint-Maurice Studios in Paris. [2]


The film was praised for its "unusual and poetic climate" and for the intelligence and subtlety of its direction. [5] This film along with La Fiancée des ténèbres (1945) have been judged to be the best in the career of Serge de Poligny, sharing their sense of a mysterious and captivating atmosphere. [6]

Related Research Articles

<i>The Phantom of the Opera</i> 1909 novel by Gaston Leroux

The Phantom of the Opera is a novel by French author Gaston Leroux. It was first published as a serial in Le Gaulois from 23 September 1909 to 8 January 1910, and was released in volume form in late March 1910 by Pierre Lafitte. The novel is partly inspired by historical events at the Paris Opera during the nineteenth century, and by an apocryphal tale concerning the use of a former ballet pupil's skeleton in Carl Maria von Weber's 1841 production of Der Freischütz. It has been successfully adapted into various stage and film adaptations, most notable of which are the 1925 film depiction featuring Lon Chaney, and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Louis, Grand Dauphin</span> Dauphin of France

Louis, Dauphin of France, commonly known as Grand Dauphin, was the eldest son and heir apparent of King Louis XIV and his spouse, Maria Theresa of Spain. He became known as the Grand Dauphin after the birth of his own son, Louis, Duke of Burgundy, the Petit Dauphin. He and his son died before his father and thus never became king. Instead, his grandson became King Louis XV at the death of Louis XIV, and his second son inherited the Spanish throne as Philip V through his grandmother.

<i>The Phantom of Liberty</i> 1974 French film

The Phantom of Liberty is a 1974 surrealist comedy film by Luis Buñuel, produced by Serge Silberman and starring Adriana Asti, Julien Bertheau and Jean-Claude Brialy. It features a non-linear plot structure that consists of various otherwise unrelated episodes linked only by the movement of certain characters from one situation to another and exhibits Buñuel's typical ribald satirical humor combined with a series of increasingly outlandish and far-fetched incidents intended to challenge the viewer's pre-conceived notions about the stability of social mores and reality.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Quimper Cathedral</span> Church in Finistère , France

Quimper Cathedral, or at greater length the Cathedral of Saint Corentin, Quimper, is a Roman Catholic cathedral and national monument of Brittany in France. It is located in the town of Quimper and is the seat of the Diocese of Quimper and Léon. Saint Corentin was its first bishop.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alain Cuny</span> French actor (1908-1994)

René Xavier Marie Alain Cuny was a French actor of stage and screen. He was closely linked with the works of Paul Claudel and Antonin Artaud, and for his performances for the Théâtre national populaire and Odéon-Théâtre de France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Saint-Pol-de-Léon Cathedral</span>

Saint Paul Aurelian Cathedral was a Roman Catholic cathedral, now basilica, in Saint-Pol-de-Léon, in the Finistère department in Brittany in north-western France. The 13th-century church stands on the site of the original church founded by Saint Paul Aurélien in the 6th century. It is a listed monument since 1840.

Anne Bachelier, is a French artist and illustrator.

<i>The Scarlet Pimpernel</i> (1982 film) 1982 British film

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a 1982 British romantic adventure television film set during the French Revolution. It is based on the novels The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905) and Eldorado (1913) by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, and stars Anthony Andrews as Sir Percy Blakeney/the Scarlet Pimpernel, the protagonist, Jane Seymour as Marguerite St. Just, the love interest, and Ian McKellen as Chauvelin, the antagonist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Odette Joyeux</span> French actress, playwright and novelist

Odette Joyeux was a French actress, playwright and novelist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paul François de Quelen de la Vauguyon</span>

Paul François de Quelen de La Vauguyon or Paul François de Quélen de Stuer de Caussade, duc de La Vauguyon was a French nobleman. He was governor of Cognac, after having been involved in the last campaigns of the Seven Years' War. He wrote a Portrait de feu monseigneur le Dauphin and was menin to the future Louis XVI, one of the Dauphin's sons. A peer of France, brigadier, maréchal de camp, knight of the ordre du Saint-Esprit, he was chosen to be minister plenipotentiary to the Estates General of the Dutch Republic. He later became French ambassador to Spain, knight of the Golden Fleece, temporary minister of foreign affairs in 1789, then minister of the conseil d'État of Louis XVIII in Verona. He was the main intermediary among Louis's agents in France, but became the victim of intrigues. From the Restoration onwards he was lieutenant général and sat in the peerage of France, where he was noted for his moderation. He and his wife had four children, but the Quelen line died out with his children.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marie Clotilde Bonaparte</span> Countess Serge de Witt

Marie Clotilde Eugénie Alberte Laetitia Geneviève Bonaparte was a French princess of the Bonaparte dynasty, the eldest child of Victor, Prince Napoléon and his wife, Princess Clémentine of Belgium.

<i>Sylvie and the Ghost</i> 1946 film

Sylvie and the Ghost is a 1946 French comedy film directed by Claude Autant-Lara and starring Odette Joyeux, François Périer and Pierre Larquey.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Philippe Louis de Noailles</span>

Philippe-Louis-Marc-Antoine, comte de Noailles, prince-duc de Poix, and 2nd Spanish and 1st French duc de Mouchy, was a French soldier, and politician of the Revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Château de Rauzan</span>

Château de Rauzan is a castle in the French commune of Rauzan, in the Gironde département of France.

Serge de Poligny (1903–1983) was a French screenwriter and film director.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mercédès Brare</span> French actress

Mercédès Brare was a French actress active in film roles from the 1930s to the 1950s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hyacinthe de Gauréault Dumont</span>

Hyacinthe de Gauréault Dumont, called Dumont was a French administrator.

<i>La Fiancée des ténèbres</i> 1945 film

La Fiancée des ténèbres is a 1945 French film directed by Serge de Poligny and starring Pierre Richard-Willm and Jany Holt. It was one of a small number of films in the fantastique genre made during the German occupation of France. Although filmed in 1944, its completion was delayed by the Liberation and it was not shown until 1945. The film is set in the city of Carcassonne in south-west France.


  1. Dayna Oscherwitz & MaryEllen Higgins, The A to Z of French Cinema. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 2009. p. 353
  2. 1 2 Le Baron fantôme at Ciné-Ressources. Retrieved on 13 February 2023.
  3. Michael Temple and Michael Witt (eds.), The French Cinema Book. London: British Film Institute, 2004. p. 143.
  4. "Le Baron fantôme", in Comoedia, 19 juin 1943. Digital extract available in Gallica, Bibliothèque Nationale Française. Retrieved 8 February 2023.
  5. Jacques Siclier, La France de Pétain et son cinéma. Paris: Henri Veyrier, 1981. p. 147: "le climat poétique et insolite".
  6. Dictionnaire du cinéma français, sous la direction de Jean-Loup Passek. Paris: Larousse, 1987. p. 338.