Created & Written by: Gaston Leroux (1868-1927)
Cheri-Bibi is yet another fantastic hero created by Gaston Leroux, "father" of Rouletabille, Erik (a.k.a. The Phantom of the Opera), and Balaoo.
Cheri-Bibi is the nickname of a young butcher's apprentice gifted with extraordinary strength. In the first novel, Cheri-Bibi is framed for the murder of his boss, Mr. Bourrelier, who is also the father of his fiancée, the beautiful Cecily. The hapless hero is sent to Devil's Island while Cecily marries Maxime du Touchais. With the help of fellow convict La Ficelle, Cheri-Bibi takes over the prison ship. Later, they come across Maxime, whose yacht was shipwrecked. Thanks to Dr. Kanak, a prodigious surgeon, Cheri-Bibi literally swaps faces with the dead Maxime and hopes to start a new life in France. However, fatality strikes when Cheri-Bibi (who now looks like Maxime) discovers upon his return that Maxime was the real murderer! So he now wears the face of the assassin for whose crime he was convicted! He is caught and sent back to Devil's Island.
In the second volume, adapted from Leroux's own script for the movie serial, La Nouvelle Aurore [The New Dawn], Cheri-Bibi escapes from Devil's Island with another convict named Palas, who was also framed for a murder he did not commit. As Raoul de Saint-Dalmas, Palas lives a happy life, married to Françoise de la Boulays, and assisted by Casimir, a.k.a. Chéri-Bibi. But the real murderer, the Count de Gorbio, finds who Palas is and strikes back. Cheri-Bibi defeats de Gorbio, but in order to prove Palas' innocence, he must come out of hiding and again forfeit his freedom.
The last Cheri-Bibi novel is a political-fiction narrative in which Cheri-Bibi's illegitimate son, Jacques du Touchais, a.k.a. the Subdamoun, is a charismatic political and military figure who tries to overthrow the Government and is arrested. In order to save his son from the guillotine, Cheri-Bibi (now hiding under the identity of Papa Cacahuètes [Father Peanuts]) is forced to intervene. In the end, Jacques learns the true identity of his father and renounces his mad ambitions. Cheri-Bibi leaves for America. (In the serialized version, the action took place not in France but in the fictional middle-European republic of Stasia.)
1. Premières Aventures de Chéri-Bibi
[Cheri-Bibi's First Adventures]: first
serialized in Le Matin, April-August 1913;
rep. as Les Cages Florttantes [The Floating Cages] and Chéri-Bibi
et Cecily, Fayard, 1914.
2. Nouvelles Aventures de Chéri-Bibi [Cheri-Bibi's New Adventures]: first serialized in Le Matin, April-August 1919; rep. as Palas and Fatalitas!, Laffite, 1921.
3. Le Coup d'État de Chéri-Bibi [Chéri-Bibi's Coup]: first serialized in Le Matin, July-October 1925; rep. as Le Coup d'Etat de Cheri-Bibi, Baudinière, 1926.
1. Chéri-Bibi (B&W., 1913)
Dir: Gérard Bourgeois.
Wri: Gaston Leroux, based on his novel.
Cast: René Navarre (Chéri-Bibi), Josette Andriot (Cécily), Camille Bardou, Gilbert Dalleu.
Note: René Navarre played the role of Fantômas.
2. Chéri-Bibi (B&W., 1330 meters, 1914)
Dir/Wri: Charles Krauss, based on the novel by Gaston Leroux.
Cast: Émile Keppens (Chéri-Bibi), Marise Dauvray, Charles Krauss.
3. La Nouvelle Aurore (The New Dawn) (B&W., 16 eps., 1919)
1: Palas au Bagne (Palas at the Penitentiary)
2: L'Evasion (The Escape)
3: Vers la Lumière (Towards the Light)
4: Le Combat du Jour et de la Nuit (The Battle of Day and Night)
5: Le Jugement de Dieu (The Judgment of God)
6: La Lune de Miel (The Honeymoon)
7: Les Cauchemars de Palas (Palas' Nightmares)
8: Le Héros et le Bandit (The Hero and the Bandit)
9: Les Voiles Se Déchirent (The Veils Are Torn)
10: La Vengeance de Gorbio (Gorbio's Revenge)
11: Deux Douleurs (Two Pains)
12: Le Calvaire (The Calvary)
14: La Tullia
16: Le Calice (The Chalice)
Dir: Edouard E. Violet.
Wri: Gaston Leroux.
Cast: José Davert (Chéri-Bibi), René Navarre (Palas), Manuel Caméré, Suzanne Linker, Rachel Devirys, Jacqueline Arly.
(B&W., 120 min., 1937)
Dir: Léon Mathot.
Wri: Jacques Constant, based on the novel by Gaston Leroux.
Cast: Pierre Fresnay (Chéri-Bibi), Suzet Mais (Ginette), Jean-Pierre Aumont (Palas), Dalio, Thommy Bourdelle.
Note: Remake of the 1919 serial, La Nouvelle Aurore.
(Col., 84 min., 1954)
Dir: Marcello Pagliero.
Wri: Paul Mesnier, based on the novel by Gaston Leroux.
Cast: Jean Richard (Chéri-Bibi), Danielle Godet (Cécily), Raymond Bussières, Albert Préjean.
Note: French-Italian co-production
Chéri-Bibi (ORTF 1, Col. Forty-Six 15 min episodes, 16 December 1974-18 February 1975)
Dir: Jean Pignol.
Wri: A.D.G., Jean Pignol, based on a novel by Gaston Leroux.
Cast: Hervé Sand (Chéri-Bibi), Danièle Lebrun (Cécily), Jean Lefèvre (La Ficelle), Malka Ribowska (Comtesse), Daniel Emilfork (Kanak), Roger Vattier (Commandant), Marguerite Cassan (Soeur Ste. Marie), Jean Herbert, Pierre Jatet, Alexandre Rignault, Antoine Marin, Georges Montillier, Bernard Charnace, Katia Tchenko, Virginie Vignon, Nadine Benoît, Muse Dalbray, Mireille Audibert, Laurent Douieb, Jean Saudray, Marcel Champel, Jean Mauvais, Henri Jouf, Pierre Bolo.
Story: After being unjustly incarcerated, the amazingly strong Cheri-Bibi and La Ficelle are sent to Devil's Island. They take over the prison ship and later rescue some shipwrecked people, including the beautiful Cecily who is fianced to the evil Maxime du Touchais. Dr. Kanak kills Maxime and grafts his face on Cheri-Bibi who hopes to start a new life.
Note: Based on the first two novels in the series, Les Cages Flottantes and Chéri-Bibi et Cécily.
Héros du Roman Noir Français (Heroes of French Gothic Novels) (France-Culture, 20 episodes, 1991)
Episode 9. Chéri-Bibi (8 August 1991)
Author: Gaston Leroux.
Read by: Pierre Vernier.
Voice: Bruno Balp (Chéri-Bibi).
Wri: G.-A. Leroux; Art: Bernad.
Story/Note: In 1951, artist Regino Bernad drew a daily comic strip adaptation of Gaston Leroux's Balaoo for the daily newspaper France-Soir. For 15 years, also for France-Soir, Bernad drew the Cheri-Bibi daily strip, also based on a series of novels by Leroux, featuring the adventures of the eponymous convict. The Cheri-Bibi strip was written by Leroux's own son, G.-A. Leroux. It comprised a total of 4462 strips. One collection, Bagarre [Struggle], was published by Dargaud in 1968.