Elena and Her Men

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Elena and Her Men
Paris Does Strange Things film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jean Renoir
Produced by Louis Wipf
Written by Jean Serge
Jean Renoir
Starring Ingrid Bergman
Jean Marais
Mel Ferrer
Jean Richard
Music by Joseph Kosma
Cinematography Claude Renoir
Edited by Borys Lewin
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
12 September 1956 (France)
31 December 1956 (Italy)
March 29, 1957 (U.S.)
28 November 1958 (Germany)
Running time
95 minutes
Country Italy/France
Language French

Elena and Her Men is a 1956 film directed by Jean Renoir and starring Ingrid Bergman and Jean Marais. The film's original French title was Elena et les Hommes and in English-speaking countries, the title was Paris Does Strange Things. A restored copy has been released in the 21st century.


Elena is a beautiful but penniless Polish princess in fin de siècle Paris, whose gift is to bring luck to the men she loves. At the outset involved with a budding composer, during the newly introduced celebrations of 14 July, she meets the next two men in her life, the charming Count de Chevincourt (Mel Ferrer) and the amorous General Rollan (Jean Marais).

When Rollan, who has political ambitions, is deliberately posted to a remote town, Elena with the help of Chevincourt follows him. His supporters urge him to lead a coup d’état against the young republic. He has based his quarters at a brothel and it is surrounded by plain clothes police. Elena and Chevincourt create a diversion by a long and tender embrace before the crowd, who are won over by this display of love. Rollan disguised as a gypsy escapes to exile.



This was Bergman's first film after leaving her husband, director Roberto Rossellini. The character of General Rollan was based on the historic General Boulanger. In 1886 Boulanger had much popular support personally despite the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, and some supporters urged him to conduct a coup d'état. (He did not.)


Ingrid Bergman's performance was highly praised. Roger Ebert wrote that she played a Polish princess who could affect the future of France, but he said, that's just what the plot is about.

"The movie is about something else - about Bergman's rare eroticism, and the way her face seems to have an inner light on film. Was there ever a more sensuous actress in the movies? Francois Truffaut, reviewing this film, observed that 'sex is the only focus of attention'."[1]

He says that "Renoir preserves a strong erotic and romantic thread (the love between Bergman and Ferrer) all the way through the movie's farcical elements."[1]

Christopher Faulkner described the film as a farce dealing with many issues and incidents similar to Renoir's well-known Rules of the Game. But he wrote that it is somewhat "cynical," despite its lightness. He says that "the point is made that a woman can only find (provisional) power within representation, on a stage, playing a part. At the end of the film, as coup d’état dissolves into coup de théâtre, the suggestion is that all effective power is actually a function of performance."[2]


  1. ^ a b Reviews: Elena and Her Men (1987 revival), Roger Ebert website
  2. ^ Christopher Faulkner, Elena and Her Men, Criterion Collection, 2004, accessed 21 June 2014

External links[edit]