Nez de Cuir is a 1952 French/Italian production directed by Yves Allégret and based on a 1938 novel, Nez de cuir - gentilhomme d'amour, by Jean de La Varende. The novel was based on the exploits of the author's own great-uncle during the Napoleonic Wars. Like the actual Achille Perrier de La Genevraye, the film's main character is severely injured in the Battle of Reims. His resulting disfigurement is then covered by a leather mask that includes a fully formed nose, and he goes on - rather paradoxically, if you ask me - to become a notorious Don Juan. The English-language title of the film bears the perfectly correct, plainly accurate translation "Leathernose".
|Marais appears to have worn an array of masks in the film; this stripped down version shows more of the character's facial injury.|
I haven't actually seen the film, so I can't say if, as a viewer, I could entirely get beyond the "gentleman of love"'s fake leather nose. But I do find it rather perverse that what's hidden behind the mask is the overripe beauty of Jean Marais, lovely nose and all. Maybe our knowledge of the actor's actual pretty face outweighs the distraction of the be-nosed mask, and makes the character's apparently overpowering allure credible.
|A contemporary edition of the original novel. We'd call this a "movie tie-in".|
|A portrait taken for the film by Raymond Voinquel. This is a much more refined mask than the others, perhaps reserved for evening dress...?|