Three Seats for the 26th

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Three Places for the 26th
Directed by Jacques Demy
Written byJacques Demy
Produced by Claude Berri
Starring Yves Montand
Mathilda May
Françoise Fabian
Cinematography Jean Penzer
Edited by Sabine Mamou
Music by Michel Legrand
Running time
116 minutes
Country France

Three Seats for the 26th (French : Trois places pour le 26) is a 1988 French romantic musical film, written and directed by Jacques Demy to music by Michel Legrand. Set in Marseille, it shows the singer and actor Yves Montand returning to the city where he grew up and looking up old friends, including his first love Mylène, who had been a prostitute and is now the wife of a jailed baron. The purpose of his visit is to rehearse a stage musical based on his life, where he falls in love with the female lead named Marion, the daughter Mylène had after they parted. It was Demy's last picture.



The film opens with the famous singer and actor Yves Montand arriving in Marseille, where he grew up, to rehearse a new musical based on his life. From his years as an unknown, including the loss of his first great love, the show moves on to his artistic and amorous links with great stars like Édith Piaf and Marilyn Monroe.

In his free time, he looks up old friends, hoping in particular to find Mylène, his first love who worked as a prostitute. At his hotel, a card is left by Baroness de Lambert, who asks to see him. While in his dressing room, he is entranced by a fan called Marion, who asks him for three seats on the 26th so that she and the two girls she works with can attend the sold-out opening night. Though trained in acting, song and dance, she works in a perfume shop.

When the leading lady has to leave the cast because of pregnancy, Marion volunteers and is hired. When Yves rings up the mysterious baroness, he recognises from her voice that she is Mylène and the two have a tender reunion in the bar where they first met. She is living with the daughter she had after they parted but will lose her home as her husband has been sent to prison for five years.

The opening is a great success, and the show is booked to run in Paris. Marion spends the night with Yves and, as they talk about each other's lives over breakfast, she realises that she is his daughter. Unshaken in her love for him, she goes home to get her mother. The two women he has loved most in his life then join Yves on the train to Paris.



For the reviewer of Le Monde, after the dark tragic passion of Une chambre en ville Demy returns with this final film to love as the supreme force in his art. Love in this case not only surmounts the age gap between Montand and his unknown daughter Marion but also survives the discovery that the two have unknowingly committed incest. Her sexual power over Montand is not idealised or ambiguous but in a bold and surprising fashion goes hand in hand with the feelings the two have for each other. Strong though her hold over Montand seems, her still very attractive mother exerts an even greater pull. [1]

Notes and references

  1. French Trois places pour le 26 at Le

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