Fanny (1961): Oscar Nominated Film Starring Charles Boyer and Leslie Caron

Warner (Mansfield Productions)

The second Segment of Marcel Pagnol’s popular trilogy, “Marseille Trilogy,” “Fanny” is the least interesting; the other segments are “Marius” and “Cesar.”

In 1938, Hollywood made the Pagnol film, “Port of Seven Seas,” with Wallace Beery (of all actors) as Cesar, Maureen O’Sullivan as Fanny, and Frank Morgan as Panisse.

The text later became a Broadway musical, under Joshua Logan’s helm, with music by Harold Rome, and reportedly strong performances by the singer Ezio Pinza as Cesar and Walter Slezak as Panisse.

In this saga, Fanny (Leslie Caron, fresh off “Gigi”) is left pregnant, when Marius (Hungarian heartthrob Horst Buchholz) goes off to sea. What’s a girl to do She married the charming but old Panisse (Maurice Chevalier, also of “Gigi” fame).

Charles Boyer, a romantic lead in Hollywood films of the 1930s, is cast as the old man Cesar. When Marius returns and wants to reclaim Fanny and his son, father Cesar dissuades him, and the romance between the youngsters has to remain latent and repressed.

For authenticity and films that capture Pagnol’s provincial warmth and genuine charm, you need to watch the French and British versions: “Fanny” was directed by Marc Allegret in 1932, Marius by Alexander Korda, and “Cesar,” the concluding film, by the playwright himself.

The Hollywood picture was advertised as “Joshua Logan’s Fanny,” until the press pointed out the double, unintentionally funny meaning of that phrase.

Oscar Alert

Oscar Nominations: 5

Picture, produced by Joshua Logan
Actor: Charles Boyer
Cinematography (Color): Jack Cardiff
Film Editing: William H. Reynolds
Scoring: Morris Stoloff and Harry Sukman

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

In 1961, “Fanny” competed for the Best Picture with “The Guns of Navarone,” “The Hustler,” Judgment at Nuremberg,” and “West Side Story,” which swept most of the Oscars, including Color Cinematography and Editing.

This was Boyer’s fourth and final Best Actor nomination; the winner was Maximilian Schell for “Judgment at Nuremberg.” Henry Mancini won the Scoring award for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”