ON GUARD/ Le Bossu


World Premiere (restored version) • History/Adventure/Romance • France, 1997

DCP • 2.35 • DTS • Color • 128 min

Directed by: Philippe de Broca

Written by: Philippe de Broca, Jean Cosmos, Jérôme Tonnerre,

Based on the novel by: Paul Féval

Cinematography: Jean-François Robin

Film Editing: Henri Lanoë

Original Score: Philippe Sarde

Produced by: Françoise Galfré, Patrick Godeau

Cast: Daniel Auteuil (Lagardère), Fabrice Luchini (Gonzague), Vincent Perez (Duc de Nevers), Marie Gillain (Aurore), Jean-François Stévenin (Cocardasse)

International Sales: Tf1 International • tf1international.com  

US Distributor: Cohen Media Group • cohenmedia.net


First premiering at COLCOA in 1998, this swashbuckling classic returns to our screen with an all-new digital restoration, and the swordplay never looked so good. Romance and revenge are the main ingredients in this sweeping adventure, set amid a lavish 17th century backdrop. Daniel Auteuil plays the stalwart Lagardère, a man of humble origins, but whose skill with a sword earns him the patronage of the flamboyant Duke of Nevers. The closest known heir to the Duke’s considerable fortune is his slithery cousin, Count Gonzague, so when the Duke resolves to marry the mother of his newly discovered child, the conniving Count schemes to block their union at all costs. Lagardère is tasked to protect the Duke’s infant daughter by hiding out with an itinerant theater troupe and raising the girl himself.  As his young charge, Aurore, grows into a radiant young woman, Lagardère adds a new theatrical twist to his formidable fencing abilities, hoping that one day he will have the chance to avenge his patron and restore Aurore as the rightful heir.

When On Guard hit theaters nearly two decades ago the popularity of the swashbuckler was ebbing, but thanks to the Pirates of the Caribbean films, the genre has many new converts. And few filmmakers knew better how to make it work than writer/director Philippe de Broca. In fact, his first big commercial success was the historical adventure Swords of Blood (1962) starring frequent collaborator Jean-Paul Belmondo. Although de Broca came out of the French New Wave generation, films like That Man From Rio (1964) and his cult masterpiece King of Hearts (1966) have a warm comedic style that weren’t a great fit for the movement. Above all, what endures in de Broca’s work is his ability to charm an audience, and his tireless insistence in doing so. It’s no surprise then that although Paul Feval’s 1857 novel has been filmed seven times, it is de Broca’s version that best captures its high-spirited panache. De Broca was a prolific filmmaker, and continued to make films, mostly comedies, right up to his death in 2004 at the age of 71.



“…full of durable cinematic pleasures: a little sex, a lot of sword fighting and a plot that combines heady passion with complicated political intrigue.”

– A .O. SCOTT, New York Times

“A big, gorgeous, sprawling swashbuckler that delivers its diversions in grand, uncomplicated fashion.”

– Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle