Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Golden Coach (1952)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Golden Coach (1952, Fr./It.) (aka Le Carrosse D'or)

In director Jean Renoir's Technicolored, light-hearted, historical romantic costume-drama farce, its deeper theme was about the choice between art and worldly love; it was the first of a trilogy (followed by French Cancan (1955), and Elena And Her Men (1956)):

  • the film's setting was in the conquered, colonial country of Peru in the late 18th century, in a South American town; the film's staging as a "play-within-a-play" was signified by an opening curtain
  • the central character was Camilla (Anna Magnani in her English-language debut), performing in a rag-tag touring Italian theatre company (commedia dell'arte) as its star; she was a boisterous, earthy, vulgar, voluptuous and passionate member of the troupe, headed by its director and leader, Don Antonio (Odoardo Spadaro) (who took the stock character role of Pantalone)
  • Camilla faced a difficult choice of love among three competing suitors (male archetypes), who were willing to offer her riches or duel for her attention:

    - Ferdinand (Duncan Lamont), an arrogant, refined and powerful royal Spanish diplomat - a Viceroy

    - Ramon (Riccardo Rioli), the area's famous hot-headed, manly and vain Toreador (bullfighter)

    - Felipe (Paul Campbell), her ex-boyfriend suitor (from Italy), a handsome, humble, yet brave young Spanish Castilian officer-soldier serving in the army

  • [Note: the competition for Camilla's love was mirrored in the troupe's commedia del’arte play performance, with Camilla (in the role of Columbina) pursued by - amongst others: Arlequin (Dante), Polichinelle (Alfredo Medini), and Florindo (Alfredo Kolner)]
  • the love-struck Viceroy received a luxurious, gilded "golden coach" imported (from Europe) that was described by his mistress, the Marquise Irene Altamirano (Gisella Mathews) as: "Beautiful! Exquisite! Breathtaking! It glitters so I can hardly look at it"
  • instead of giving the coach to the Marquise, however, the Viceroy extravagantly and amorously considered offering it to Camilla as a love token; he was opposed by the town's ministers and nobles, and by the Marquise herself, causing him to back down and reconsider
  • but then, he defied the nobility - even though he knew that he might be deposed by the Bishop of Lima (Jean Debucourt), and decided to risk his Viceroy-ship by going through with his original audacious offer; meanwhile, Camilla's other two suitors were arrested for dueling over her attentive affection
  • after receiving the coach and to avoid further conflict, Camilla turned it over to the Bishop of Lima, who announced that he would use the coach to transport the sacraments to sick and dying peasants
  • Camilla expressed difficulty in making a commitment to anyone - between worldly real-life suitors and the illusionary world of the theatre and its audiences; in the film's ending, she meditatively mused: "Where is truth? Where does the theatre end and life begin?"
  • during the concluding sequence -- Camilla was on the stage after all three suitors had departed and peace had been established; she was advised by Don Antonio who was standing on the side of the stage; he told her that should could realize her true self only on stage: "Don't waste your time in the so-called real life. You belong to us, the actors, acrobats, mimes, clowns, mountebanks. Your only way to find happiness is on any stage, any platform, any public place, during those two little hours when you become another person - your true self"
Don Antonio: "Do you miss them?"
Camilla Alone on the Stage - Ready to Remain in the
Illusionary World on the Stage
  • when the curtain fell behind Camilla, she was left alone on the solitary stage; she asked herself: "Felipe, Ramon, the Viceroy disappeared, gone. Don't they exist anymore?"; Don Antonio answered: "Disappeared. Now they are a part of the audience. Do you miss them?"; after a few moments of thought, Camilla sentimentally admitted that she didn't miss them very much: "A little"; unregretful, she had made an enlightened choice to determine her own fate - and to follow and find her true self through the craft of acting on-stage and through the characters she would incarnate

The Opening Curtain

Theatre Star Camilla


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