The Triumph of the Rat

Last updated

The Triumph of the Rat
Ivor Novello screenshot
Directed by Graham Cutts
Written byGraham Cutts
Reginald Fogwell
Ivor Novello
Constance Collier [1]
Produced by Michael Balcon
Starring Ivor Novello
Isabel Jeans
Nina Vanna
Cinematography Hal Young
Distributed by Woolf & Freedman Film Service
Release date
  • September 1926 (1926-09)
Running time
74 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The Triumph of the Rat is a 1926 British silent film drama, directed by Graham Cutts for Gainsborough Pictures and starring Ivor Novello, Isabel Jeans and Nina Vanna.



The film is the second in a trilogy featuring Novello as Pierre Boucheron (The Rat), following the popular success of the previous year's The Rat. [2] Both films were based on plays cowrittened by Ivor Novello, Graham Cutts, Constance Collier and Reginald Fogwell. [3] [4] [ pages needed ] Jeans also returned to reprise her role from the first film, as did Marie Ault and Julie Suedo. A notable absence is the character of Odile, a central figure in The Rat as played by Mae Marsh. At the end of the previous film Pierre had seemingly rejected the lure of life in high society as represented by the Jeans character of Zélie, and he and Odile had finally realised the depth of their love for each other. However The Triumph of the Rat finds him back with Zélie, and not only does Odile not appear in the film, but not even a passing mention is made as to what might have happened in the interim to cause her to disappear so completely from Pierre's life. This reportedly puzzled contemporary audiences, and while some later observers have theorised that The Triumph of the Rat is meant to present an alternative reality in which Pierre chose Zélie over Odile at the end of the original film, there is no evidence that anything so sophisticated was ever the intention.


The film opens with Pierre comfortably ensconced as the kept man of his old sparring-partner Zélie, who has apparently made good on her previous claims that she could transform him from a criminal ruffian into a gentleman accepted by the upper echelons of Parisian society. While he appears to relish his new-found social status, Zélie attempts to keep him on a tight rein by constantly reminding him that just as she pulled him up from the gutter, so can she send him back there if he displeases her.

While mixing in rarefied social circles, Pierre develops an admiration for the titled Madeleine de l'Orme (Vanna), which does not go unnoticed by Zélie. She taunts him that while he may have piqued her interest, a true member of the aristocracy will always be out of his reach. He assures her that if he sets his mind to it, he will be able to hook Madeleine. Zélie challenges him to prove it. He sets about wooing Madeleine, and Zélie gradually realises to her horror that he is doing it in earnest rather than just to prove a point, and moreover is succeeding rather well. Carrying through her previous warnings, she takes her revenge and Pierre finds himself consigned back to his old haunt, the sordid White Coffin Club. There he is greeted warmly by his old colleague Mou-Mou (Suedo). However things have changed while he has been away and he is no longer ruler of the White Coffin roost. He is challenged to a knife fight which, unthinkably, he loses. In his shame he feels he can no longer show his face in the White Coffin, and spirals ever deeper into despair and destitution until he is finally reduced to scavenging among stray dogs for discarded scraps of food. [5]


Related Research Articles

Ivor Novello Welsh composer and actor (1893–1951)

Ivor Novello was a Welsh actor, dramatist, singer and composer who became one of the most popular British entertainers of the first half of the 20th century.

<i>The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog</i> 1927 silent film by Alfred Hitchcock

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog is a 1927 British silent thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Marie Ault, Arthur Chesney, June Tripp, Malcolm Keen and Ivor Novello. Hitchcock's third feature film, it was released on 14 February 1927 in London and on 10 June 1928 in New York City. The film is based on the 1913 novel The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes and the play Who Is He? co-written by Belloc Lowndes. Its plot concerns the hunt for a Jack the Ripper-like serial killer in London.

<i>Downhill</i> (1927 film) 1927 film

Downhill is a 1927 British silent drama film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Ivor Novello, Robin Irvine and Isabel Jeans, and based on the play Down Hill by Novello and Constance Collier. The film was produced by Gainsborough Pictures at their Islington studios. Downhill was Hitchcock's fourth film as director, but the fifth to be released. Its American alternative title was When Boys Leave Home.

Robert Andrews (actor) English actor

Robert Tobias "Bobbie" Andrews was a British stage and film actor. He is perhaps best known as the long-term companion of Ivor Novello.

<i>Tatie Danielle</i> 1990 French film

Tatie Danielle is a 1990 French black comedy film directed by Étienne Chatiliez. It features Tsilla Chelton as Auntie Danielle Billard.

Constance Collier British actress (1878–1955)

Constance Collier was an English stage and film actress and acting coach. She wrote hit plays and films with Ivor Novello and she was the first person to be treated with insulin in Europe.

The Rat may refer to:

<i>Gormenghast</i> (TV serial) TV series based on the book by Mervyn Peake

Gormenghast is a four-episode television serial based on the first two novels of the Gothic fantasy Gormenghast series by Mervyn Peake. It was produced and broadcast by the BBC.

Isabel Jeans English actress (1891–1985)

Isabel Jeans was an English stage and film actress known for her roles in several Alfred Hitchcock films and her portrayal of Aunt Alicia in the 1958 musical film Gigi.

Nina Vanna

Nina Yazykova Kind Hakim Provatoroff, known by her stage name of Nina Vanna, was a Russian-born British film actress who appeared in a number of silent films during the 1920s.

John Henry Graham Cutts, known as Graham Cutts, was a British film director, one of the leading British directors in the 1920s. His fellow director A. V. Bramble believed that Gainsborough Pictures had been built on the back of his work.

<i>The Man Without Desire</i> 1923 film

The Man Without Desire is a 1923 British silent film fantasy drama, directed by Adrian Brunel and starring Ivor Novello, who also co-produced the film along with Miles Mander. The film was Brunel's feature-length directorial debut and has been described as "one of the stranger films to emerge from Britain in the 1920s". The film's theme of loss of sexual desire, and by implication impotence, was exceptionally frank for its time; oddly, however, it appears to have been passed for release without interference by the British film censors, who at this time had a reputation for extreme zealousness where sexual matters in film were concerned.

<i>The Rat</i> (1925 film) 1925 film

The Rat is a 1925 British silent film drama, directed by Graham Cutts and starring Ivor Novello, Mae Marsh and Isabel Jeans. The film is based on the 1924 play of the same title written by Novello and Constance Collier, set in the Parisian criminal underworld. The film's louche settings and melodramatic storyline proved popular with audiences, and its success spawned two sequels, The Triumph of the Rat (1926) and The Return of the Rat (1929).

The Return of the Rat is a 1929 British silent drama film directed by Graham Cutts and starring Ivor Novello, Isabel Jeans and Mabel Poulton. It was made by Gainsborough Pictures at their Islington Studios. It was also released with a music-and-effects soundtrack for cinemas wired for sound.

Sleeping Car is a 1933 British romantic comedy film directed by Anatole Litvak and starring Madeleine Carroll, Ivor Novello and Laddie Cliff.

<i>The Bohemian Girl</i> (1922 film) 1922 film

The Bohemian Girl is a 1922 British romance film directed by Harley Knoles and starring Gladys Cooper, Ivor Novello, and C. Aubrey Smith. It was inspired by the opera The Bohemian Girl by Michael William Balfe and Alfred Bunn, which was in turn based on a novel La Gitanilla by Miguel de Cervantes. Originally released at 70 minutes, the surviving print is missing the first two reels and small portion of the last, timing at 46 minutes.

<i>I Lived with You</i> 1933 film

I Lived With You is a 1933 British romantic comedy film directed by Maurice Elvey and starring Ivor Novello, Ursula Jeans and Ida Lupino. It is based on the West End hit play I Lived With You by Novello.

<i>The Rat</i> (1937 film) 1937 film directed by Jack Raymond

The Rat is a 1937 British drama film directed by Jack Raymond and starring Anton Walbrook, Ruth Chatterton, and René Ray. It is based on the play The Rat by Ivor Novello which had previously been made into a 1925 film The Rat starring Novello. It was made at Denham Studios by Herbert Wilcox Productions.

Miarka or Miarka: The Daughter of the Bear is a 1920 French silent drama film directed by Louis Mercanton and starring Ivor Novello. The film is also known by the alternative title of Gypsy Passion. It was shot on location in the Camargue region. It was based on a novel by Jean Richepin which was later turned into a sound film of the same name.

The Rat is a play by the British writers Ivor Novello and Constance Collier which first premiered in 1924. It ran for 282 performances in its original West End run, initially at the Prince of Wales Theatre before transferring to the Garrick Theatre. Novello himself starred as the title character, an Apache dancer who frequents Paris nightclubs. The cast also included James Lindsay and Isabel Jeans. On Broadway it enjoyed a run of 126 performances at the Colonial Theatre.


  1. Gale, Maggie B. (14 June 2018). Collier, Constance [real name Laura Constance Hardie; married name Boyle] (1878–1955), actress. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.013.67797.
  2. Abbott, Ernest Hamlin; Abbott, Lyman; Bellamy, Francis Rufus; Mabie, Hamilton Wright (1 January 1928). The Outlook. Outlook Co.
  3. Wright, Adrian (1 January 2010). A Tanner's Worth of Tune: Rediscovering the Post-war British Musical. Boydell & Brewer. ISBN   9781843835424.
  4. Low, Rachael; Manvell, Roger (1 January 1971). The History of the British Film: Based Upon Research of the History Committee of the British Film Institute Volume 4. Allen & Unwin.
  5. Morgan, Charles (31 May 2013). Dramatic Critic: Selected Reviews (1922-1939). Oberon Books. ISBN   9781849439411.