Friday, July 27, 2012

René Poyen

René Poyen (1908-1968) was a famous child star in silent French cinema, who started at the age of four as the popular character Bout-de-Zan at the Gaumont film company. Most of his burlesque comedies were filmed by Louis Feuillade.
Poyen, born in Paris, started in 1912 at Gaumont as Bout-de-Zan, The younger brother of rascal kid actor Bébé (René Dary), in the film comedy Bébé adopte un petit frère, directed by Feuillade. Quite soon he replaced Dary and his character, becoming the kid actor of Gaumont in the subsequent year. 
Already in 1913 Poyen made 24 onereelers with his popular mischievous alter ego; 16 in 1914; and 18 in 1915, including a role in the famous Feuillades crime serial Les Vampires. In 1917 he also played in the Feuillade serial Judex and the crime parody Le pied qui étreint by Jacques Feyder, next to a handful Bout-de-Zan shorts. By then the era of the short Bout-deZan comedies was over, but Poyen continued to play in the crime serials: La nouvelle mission de Judex (Feuillade 1917), Les deux gamines (Feuillade 1920), and the series films L'orphelin de Paris (1924) but he also performed in the features La proie (Marcel Dumont 1921), La fille bien gardée (Feuillade 1923/1924), Le gamin de Paris (Feuillade 1923), La gosseline (Feuillade 1923), Lucette (Feuillade/Maurice Champreux 1924), Pierrot, Pierrette (Feuillade 1924), Romanetti/Le roi du maquis (Gennaro Dini 1924), and Les murailles du silence (Louis de Carbonnat 1925). 
In the early 1920s he was often paired with girl actress Bouboule, as in Le gamin de Paris, La gosseline, Pierrot, Pierrette, and Lucette. In the sound era Poyen returned only twice more to play in film, once in an unnown role in Clochard (1932) by Robert Péguy and a last time as Bout-de-Zan in Le Bidon (1932) by Christian Jaque. René Poyen died in his hometown Paris in 1968.

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