Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Cesar and Rosalie (1972)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

César and Rosalie (1972, Fr./It./W.Germ.) (aka César et Rosalie)

In director Claude Sautet's sophisticated romantic drama about a difficult and confused love triangle, and a bromance:

  • the three main characters: (1) lovely, vivacious divorcée and single mother Rosalie (Romy Schneider) from ex-husband Antoine (Umberto Orsini), (2) jealous and impulsive working-class, cigar-smoking, macho scrap-metal merchant César (Yves Montand), and (3) shy, quiet comic-strip graphic artist David (Sami Frey), Rosalie's ex-boyfriend/lover from five years earlier - he immediately became a threat to Cesar, who was keeping Rosalie as his unofficial 'girl Friday' and mistress!
  • the sequence of Cesar's conniving trick to lure the vascillating Rosalie to himself and thereby drive David off - in a cafe over coffee, he told David that Rosalie was pregnant and that marriage between them was imminent: "This woman has found her way. And along the way, of course, are men, money, life. Anyway, we're getting married...Any day now, as soon as the papers are ready...Maybe she didn't tell you, but she's pregnant. So I'm telling you. To each his own...See, I sacrificed everything for her, everything. I have no regrets. I've stopped at nothing. At nothing. I even killed a guy. A stupid move. You don't want the story of my life...I'm glad we talked. I do hate hypocrisy"
Cesar's Restaurant Lie to David about Rosalie's Pregnancy
  • slightly later, David spoke to Rosalie and asked her to confirm what David had claimed: "So you're getting married? And you're pregnant?" - she was incredulous: "What? Who invented that story? Who told you that? Cesar? When? This morning?" - angered by his deception, she wrote Cesar a note: "You're really too stupid. I'm going back with David. Don't 'kill' too many guys for me"
  • the violent scene when the obsessive Cesar caught up with Rosalie and confronted her as she was packing to leave for David's place: ("I'm going to David's. It won't be as bad"); he had a jealous outburst but she shouted back and asserted her independence: "I don't belong to you. You didn't buy me. You have no rights to me. No one does. No one!" - he responded by grabbing her, shouting: "You're staying here!", and then threateningly flicked open a knife; when she ordered him to put it away, he flung it into the front of a wood dresser: ("I scared you. Go on. Get the hell out! Out!"); after she fled, he tossed her packed belongings out a window onto the street, and angrily drove to David's place and attacked him; as David escaped in his car, a voice-over narrator (Michel Piccoli) spoke: "He was crazy. He said he was armed, ready to kill everybody. I took off and left him"; afterwards, Cesar vandalized David's art studio
  • a period of peaceful reconciliation followed, when Cesar bought Rosalie her family's old summer-holiday home on the island of Noirmoutier in the Atlantic, and she agreed to move there with him - but later after Rosalie fell into a deep depression, Cesar described her condition to David in his art studio: "Nothing's OK, nothing at all. You know, she's there and she isn't there. She does what she can, but not what she wants. She's down...Now her laugh is empty. She goes out in the rain, anything. Worst, she doesn't ask for things. It's like in a wax museum...and it's driving me crazy"; he explained why he was telling David about Rosalie's melancholy - and implored David to join them: "So you'll come. I've no choice...I'm afraid she'll leave...I can't give her up...I said to myself, 'Maybe David could...'...So you don't want to come?" - they fought again when David refused, but shortly later without much explanation, David changed his mind
  • the perversely-ambiguous, unsatisfactory ending (with a concluding freeze-frame), after romantic rivals Cesar and David had become close friends and Rosalie had run away from both of them - but then she returned and emerged from a taxi behind a gate as they were enjoying lunch together at a nearby open window - who had she come for, and why?
The Ambiguous Ending

David and Cesar

Rosalie With Cesar

David's Question to Rosalie About Her Alleged Pregnancy

Rosalie to Cesar: "You have no rights to me!"

Cesar Flicked Open a Knife to Threaten Rosalie

Rosalie's Melancholy on Island with Cesar

Cesar's Request for David to Join Them

Threesome Together


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