The President (1961 film)

Last updated
The President
Directed by Henri Verneuil
Written by Michel Audiard
Starring Jean Gabin
Bernard Blier
Release date
  • 1 March 1961 (1961-03-01)
Running time
94 minutes

The President (French : Le Président) is a 1961 French political thriller film directed by Henri Verneuil and based on, though altering, the ending of, the novel of the same title by Georges Simenon. It tells the story of a French prime minister (Jean Gabin), a lifelong proponent of the national god, who is twice betrayed by an opportunistic younger politician (Bernard Blier) but in the end gets his revenge.


The film's title refers to the former French term for prime minister, which was président du conseil des ministres (chairman of the cabinet), but has since been replaced by the term premier ministre (prime minister).


Aged 73 and in ill-health, a former prime minister of France, the widower Émile Beaufort, spends his days in his country house near Evreux dictating his memoirs to his secretary. He gets to the point, some twenty years earlier, when he had to devalue the currency. After secretly meeting the governor of the central bank and the minister of finance, he agreed to make the announcement one Monday. That morning, huge currency speculation broke out and Beaufort realised only one other person knew of the plan. This was Philippe Chalamont, the head of his private office, whose father-in-law was a banker. He made Chalamont write out and sign a confession, which he has kept ever since.

In his last term as prime minister, he was a passionate advocate of the European union, seeing it as a healing of the hatreds which had torn the continent apart. His most persuasive opponent turned out to be Chalamont, by then in Parliament, who argued it would be bad for French business. In disgust at this petty-minded and sectional approach, Beaufort resigned and gave up politics.

Chalamont has now been asked to form a government, and Beaufort summons him to Evreux that evening. Before his enemy turns up, he removes the confession from its hiding place, puts it in his pocket and dozes off in front of the fire. He wakes up to find his secretary searching the room and, confronted; she admits she was bribed to find the incriminating document. Beaufort burns it and waits. When shown in, Chalamont opens with a spiel about relying in his new post on the advice of Beaufort, whom he has always admired and trusted, and how he too now believes in European unity. Beaufort is not fooled, preferring France to have a new prime minister who is not a crook and a liar, so he threatens to divulge the currency incident to the media. Next morning, the news is that Chalamont has declined to form a new government.

Difference from the book

As noted, the film changed the ending of the original Simenon book. Throughout the book the protagonist does contemplate what he actually does in the film, i.e. to use the evidence in his possession to derail Chalamont's plans - but eventually he relents. The book ends with The Premier adopting a detached, stoic attitude, withdrawing from any further involvement in politics and serenely preparing for his approaching death. He leaves his former protégé to form a cabinet in peace, and burns documents incriminating various other politicians which he had kept hidden for years. In the process, he discovers, without much surprise, that his staff had been spying on him for years and that his secretary had long since discovered all these incriminating documents and let an ambitious police inspector photocopy them. Musing that the inspector would likely use the papers to blackmail his way to a high position, the Premier takes also that revelation stoically and without malice.


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Georges Simenon</span> Belgian writer (1903–1989)

Georges Joseph Christian Simenon was a Belgian writer. He published nearly 500 novels and numerous short works, and was the creator of the fictional detective Jules Maigret.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jacques Marie Eugène Godefroy Cavaignac</span>

Jacques Marie Eugène Godefroy Cavaignac, known as Godefroy Cavaignac, was a French politician.

Minister of State is a title borne by politicians in certain countries governed under a parliamentary system. In some countries a Minister of State is a Junior Minister of government, who is assigned to assist a specific Cabinet Minister. In other countries a Minister of State is a holder of a more senior position, such as a Cabinet Minister or even a Head of Government.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pierre-Étienne Flandin</span> French Prime Minister

Pierre-Étienne Flandin was a French conservative politician of the Third Republic, leader of the Democratic Republican Alliance (ARD), and Prime Minister of France from 8 November 1934 to 31 May 1935.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paul Ramadier</span> Prime Minister of France (1888–1961)

Paul Ramadier was a French statesman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jean Gabin</span> French actor

Jean Gabin was a French actor and singer. Considered a key figure in French cinema, he starred in several classic films including Pépé le Moko (1937), La grande illusion (1937), Le Quai des brumes (1938), La bête humaine (1938), Le jour se lève (1939), and Le plaisir (1952). During his career he had twice won both the Silver Bear for Best Actor from the Berlin International Film Festival and the Volpi Cup for Best Actor from the Venice Film Festival respectively. Gabin was made a member of the Légion d'honneur in recognition of the important role he played in French cinema.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henri Verneuil</span> French-Armenian playwright and filmmaker (1920–2002)

Henri Verneuil was a French-Armenian playwright and filmmaker, who made a successful career in France. He was nominated for Oscar and Palme d'Or awards, and won Locarno International Film Festival, Edgar Allan Poe Awards, French Legion of Honor, Golden Globe Award, French National Academy of Cinema and Honorary Cesar awards.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Modibo Sidibé</span> Malian politician

Modibo Sidibé is a Malian politician who was Prime Minister of Mali from September 2007 to April 2011.

Events from the year 1912 in France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gilbert Houngbo</span> Togolese politician and former Prime Minister

Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo is a Togolese politician and diplomat who was Prime Minister of Togo from September 2008 to July 2012. He has also held various positions within the United Nations System, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Labour Office and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). In 2022 he was elected as the 11th Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Annick Girardin</span> French politician

Annick Girardin is a French politician of the Radical Party who served as Minister of the Sea in the government of Prime Minister Jean Castex (2020–2022), Minister of Overseas France in the government of Prime Minister Édouard Philippe (2017–2020) and Junior Minister for Development and Francophonie in the government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls (2014–2018). In the National Assembly of France, she represented the islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon from 2007 to 2014.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Germain Louis Chauvelin</span> French politician (1685–1762)

Germain Louis Chauvelin, marquis de Grosbois, was a French politician, serving as garde des sceaux and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs under Louis XV.

Jeannot Ahoussou-Kouadio is an Ivorian politician who was Prime Minister of Ivory Coast from March 2012 to November 2012. In 2018, he was appointed president of the Senate. Previously he was Minister of Industry from 2002 to 2005 and Minister of Justice from 2010 to 2012.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lionel Zinsou</span> French–Beninese investment banker and politician (born 1953)

Lionel Zinsou is a French–Beninese economist and investment banker who was Prime Minister of Benin from 2015 to 2016. Since June 2017, he has been the president of Terra Nova, a centre-left French think tank.

<i>The Messenger</i> (1937 film) 1937 film

The Messenger is a 1937 French drama film directed by Raymond Rouleau and starring Gaby Morlay, Jean Gabin and Mona Goya. It was based on a play by Henri Bernstein. Morlay reprised her role while Victor Francen, who had played the male lead on stage, was replaced by Gabin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Édouard Philippe</span> 100th Prime Minister of France

Édouard Charles Philippe is a French politician serving as Mayor of Le Havre since 2020, previously holding the office from 2010 to 2017. He was Prime Minister of France from 15 May 2017 to 3 July 2020 under President Emmanuel Macron.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">First Philippe government</span> 40th Government of the French Fifth Republic

The first Philippe government was the fortieth government of the French Fifth Republic. It was the first government formed by Édouard Philippe under President Emmanuel Macron, prior to the 2017 legislative election.

Opinion polling on the presidency of Emmanuel Macron has been regularly conducted by French pollsters since the start of his five-year term. Public opinion on various issues has also been tracked.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jean Castex</span> Former Prime Minister of France

Jean Castex is a French politician who was the country's Prime Minister from 3 July 2020 to 16 May 2022. He was a member of The Republicans (LR) until 2020, when he joined La République En Marche! (LREM). Castex served for twelve years as mayor of the small town of Prades prior to his appointment as Prime Minister by President Emmanuel Macron. He resigned his post in May 2022.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Albert Ouédraogo</span> Burkinabé Prime Minister since March 2022

Albert Ouédraogo is a Burkinabé economist who served as prime minister of Burkina Faso in the aftermath of the January 2022 Burkina Faso coup d'état, from 3 March until another coup on 30 September.