My Family on Television: Les Filles de Caleb (1990-1991)

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©Virginie Pronovost, 2012. All rights reserved

Ok, we’ll talk a bit about my family. Shall we?

When Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films announced that she’ll be hosting a blogathon dedicated to the world of television, I had the idea to discuss one of Quebec’s most famous tv show: Les Filles de Caleb. The direct translation would be Caleb’s Daughters.

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Les Filles de Caleb was a mini-series of 20 episodes that was based on Arlette Cousture’s bestseller Les Filles de Caleb: le chant du coq. Émilie Bordeleau (Marina Orsini) is the central character. She comes from the village of St-Stanislas-de-Champlain in Mauricie, Quebec. Her father is Caleb Bordeleau and her mother, Celina Bordeleau. She has numerous brothers and sisters, like most people living in the countryside at the time. In her late teens, Émilie becomes a teacher at the little school “l’école du Bourdais” in the near village of St-Tite. She has to impose her authority since some of the students are barely younger than her. There, Émilie meets the handsome Oliva Pronovost (Roy Dupuis) who doesn’t seem very motivated by the school but who turns out to be quite interesting and you can guess what happens… Yes, they fall in love with each other! The Bordeleau family and the Pronovost family become close and Émilie and Ovila eventually marry. The young woman has to give up her teaching job to consecrate her life to motherhood. Hey, that was life at the time! She and Ovila have numerous children together including Blanche, born in a snowstorm. Ovila and Émilie’s relationship is difficult since Ovila is someone who needs a lot of liberty, who doesn’t like farm work and has some problems with alcohol. Les Filles de Caleb is a series full of adventures and misadventures. Yes, it shows you how life could be hard during the late 19th century and the early 20th century, but it also shows you how people from the countryside could be friendly with each other and supportive. Even today it’s still like this!

 

Les Filles de Caleb was broadcast on Radio-Canada television between 1990 and 1991, and on CBC television under the name of Emilie. In France, it was a huge success as well and was known as Émilie, la passion d’une vie.

Les Filles de Caleb is not a purely fictional movie as it tells the real life-story of these characters. The author of the book, Arlette Cousture, was herself the daughter of Blanche Pronovost and the granddaughter of Émilie Bordeleau. If the first book of the series, “Le chant du coq”, turns around the life of Émilie, her second one “Le cri de l’oie blanche” is mostly focused on Blanche’s life. This one was also adapted into a television show called Blanche, but I believe it didn’t have as much success as Les Filles de Caleb. I myself have watched the first episode and didn’t continue as I didn’t really get into it. Maybe I’ll give it another chance eventually. The book was good tho, but not as exciting as the first one!

 

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Author Arlette Cousture

Now, you might wonder why I’ll talk about my family. Well, as you might know, my last name is Pronovost… and all the Pronovost are related! It’s a big family coming from the region of Mauricie. And because of this, a few anecdotes concerning the link between me and the tv show are worth mentioning.

1- As much as I can remember, I think Ovila Pronovost was the cousin of my great-grandfather, which will also make him a distant cousin of mine. I guess that’s because of him if we love outdoors in our family haha! The man loved nature.

2- My late grandfather was born in the village of St-Tite (like Ovila and his family) in 1910 and went to the little school where Emily taught. Well, at the time, she wasn’t teaching there anymore as she was already married. There even is a Pronovost Road in St-Tite! Today, the village is also famous for its Western Festival.

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Emilie’s school today. ©Virginie Pronovost, 2012- All rights reserved

 

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The house where my grandfather was born in 1910. ©Virginie Pronovost, 2012- All rights reserved
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A covered bridge in the village of St-Tite. ©Virginie Pronovost, 2012- All rights reserved
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Pronovost Road! ©Virginie Pronovost, 2012- All rights reserved

3- We have a country house at St-Stanislas-de-Champlain where Émilie was born. This is a centenary old house that was given to us by my grandfather’s cousin, Stella Brunelle, who was a nurse and died at the very young age of 104! We have good genes. The house where Émilie was born and where her family lived is on the other side of the Batiscan river. Émilie died in the house that is just in front of ours, on the other side of the street! Surely Stella knew her, despite being younger. She is buried in the village’s cemetery.

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The village of St-Stanislas-de-Champlain in 1905
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The village of St-Stanislas today. The grey house on the corner is the one where Emilie passed away. ©Virginie Pronovost, 2012- All rights reserved
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Caleb Bordeleau’s house where Emilie was born and spent her childhood
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Emilie’s grave in the St-Stanislas’s cemetary

As I’ve mentioned in my article on Buster Keaton’s The Blacksmith, Stella Brunelle was the daughter of St-Stanislas’s blacksmith and we still have one of the account books where Caleb’s name is written! In the television show, we don’t see any scenes of Caleb or his family going to the smithy, but I believe it was mentioned in the novel.

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The blacksmith! ©Famille Pronovost. All rights reserved
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Stella’s house with the smithy in the background. ©Famille Pronovost. All rights reserved
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The smithy today. ©Virginie Pronovost. All rights reserved

Émilie and Olivia married each other at St-Stanislas’s church.

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St-Stanislas’s church, a long time ago!

The television show wasn’t shot on location, however. It’s in the village of St-Jean-des-Piles in Mauricie that is was filmed. After the shooting, the set was moved in the sector of Grand-Mère and what was known as Émilies’s Village was recreated and became a popular attraction for people to visit the sets. Unfortunately, the recreated village doesn’t exist anymore BUT you can still come to St-Stanislas or St-Tite to see the real locations! And people at the time knew it. Actually, a lot of tourists came in “St-Stan” in the 90s (before I was born) and would stop at our house to see the smithy. We even had people from France! Well, it’s true that our house with the blacksmith, the barn, and the large site is a beautiful location. 😉

 

 

Emilie’s Village, a touristic attraction in the 90s

 

Stella’s house when she lived there. ©Famille Pronovost. All rights reserved

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Our country house today. ©Virginie Pronovost, 2010. All rights reserved
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Stella’s father with his friend Joe Breaker in front of the barn. ©Famille Pronovost. All rights reserved
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The barn today. ©Virginie Pronovost. All rights reserved.

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If La Petite Vie was Quebec’s most successful sitcom, Les Filles de Caleb was the most successful television drama. And, as mentioned on imdb, it was one of the highest rated show in Quebec when it was broadcast. I think the main quality of it is that it aged well. Even today, it appeals to a lot of people. It tells the story of rural Quebec but, as it is more a love story more than a historical drama, it’s the kind of television show that can be appreciated and understood anywhere. The story of Émilie and Ovila marked the imaginary of Quebec and, still today, people remember them well. And having Pronovost as a last name can create fun situations! For example, in my last year of high school, my French teacher was a huge fan of actor Roy Dupuis who portrays Ovila in the television show. It was the beginning of the year and I asked her a question which she answered, but she couldn’t remember my last name.

Me: “Ah, Pronovost”

My teacher: Ah! Like Ovila Pronovost!”

And this is far from being the only time it happened to me. By the way, you don’t pronounce the “s” and the “t” at the end of Pronovost!

 

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The cast of Les Filles de Caleb was composed of Marina Orsini (Émilie), Roy Dupuis (Ovila), Germain Houde (Caleb Bordeleau), Johanne-Marie Tremblay (Célina Bordeleau), Véronique Le Flaguais (Félicité Pronovost), Pierre Curzi (Dosithée Pronovost), and Patrick Goyette (Ovide Pronovost – one of Ovila’s brothers). As they were very young when the series was made, that’s pretty much what put Marina Orsini and Roy Dupuis on the map. And with the success it had, it certainly gave them a name. I believe the whole cast was great in their respective roles. Marina Orsini gave the necessary strength of character to Émilie. Roy Dupuis was perfect to incarnate the mysterious and seducer Ovila Pronovost. The two actors looked beautiful together and made that passionate love story highly believable. Pierre Curzi and Germain Houde both played fathers with a lot of humour and always had a great chemistry with the other characters. Veronique Le Flaguais and Johanne-Marie Tremblay knew how to be maternal, but strong women, which I think was necessary when you lived the hard life of the countryside and had to raise a bunch of kids! And Patrick Goyette as Ovide made an interesting contrast with Roy Dupuis as the jealous but more down to earth brother. Of course, there are many more actors and characters in the show, but these are the main ones.

 

 

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Pierre Curzi as Dosithée Pronovost and Véronique Le Flaguais as Félicitée Pronovost

 

 

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Patrick Goyette as Ovide Pronovost

Actually, I think the only problem with the cast is that Roy Dupuis was much more handsome than the real Ovila Pronovost! But who cares? It is so agreeable for the eyes to watch the sexy (and talented Roy Dupuis! 😉 One of our most praised actors here in Quebec!

Even if Les Filles de Caleb lasted only 20 episodes, a lot is going on and definitely makes us wish it would last longer. It is a real adventure truffled with breathtaking,  heartbreaking and overall beautiful moments. I don’t know if you can find it with English subtitles somewhere, but if yes, I highly recommend you to watch it! It’s that kind of tv show that, once you started it, you can stop! It’s addictive like that.

You know what? Now I truly feel like watching it again! I think a little Filles de Caleb marathon is in order!

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This article was written for The Small Screen Blogathon hosted by Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. It was a pleasure for me to participate! Thanks Maddy!

Make sure to check the other entries as well!

The Small Screen Blogathon

See you!

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Source: http://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/748473/village-emilie-filles-de-caleb-grand-mere-shawinigan

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Simon Templar’s Golden Journey

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I’m happy to participate, for the second time since I create this blog, to the Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon hosted by my friend Terence from A Shroud of Thoughts. Last year, I wrote about The Donna Reed Show‘s episode The Caravan. This time, we’re back in the woods, but with an episode coming from another very favourite TV show of mine: The Saint. The episode I’ll explore today, The Golden Journey, is part of the first season.

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In this episode, the notorious Simon Templar (Roger Moore) is in Spain with his best friend’s fiancee, Belinda (Erica Rogers), and her aunt (Stella Bonheur). He doesn’t like her very much, because she is lazy and always complains. As he says, she acts like a “spoiled brat”. Her aunt agrees with Simon Templar, and the two decide to give a lesson to the lady. When she is sleeping, Simon goes in Belinda’s room and steals her money, her passport and her jewels. She then has nothing to live in a foreign country and she’s pretty desperate. After trying to steal an automobile, she’s put in jail, but Simon pays the caution so she can be freed. Simon is going on a hiking trip and proposes her to come with him. She doesn’t like the idea of walking during a hundred miles, but she doesn’t have much choice as she has no money and no place to go. During the expedition she’s constantly complaining (as always), but Simon knows this will be a good way to “tame” her and make her be more responsible, less lazy and appreciate life as it is.

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This episode of The Saint is very different from the other ones as it doesn’t involve a murder or any criminal case, like it normally is the case. As always, Simon Templar is ready to help the others, but, this time, he’ll help a girl being a better person instead of helping an innocent victim. The Simon Templar from The Golden Journey doesn’t play the detective, but a simple backpacker. However, he remains Simon Templar: the handsome man who is ready to do everything to reach his goal, even steal. The mocker Simon Templar, the seductive Simon Templar and, of course, the Simon Templar who always wins.

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I think that’s one of the major facts why this is one of my favourite episodes from The Saint: it’s a plot that doesn’t involve a crime, so it’s very surprising. It’s different and makes us realize that, whatever the subject, this tv show remains great. But don’t get me wrong, I love the episodes involving a crime or a conspiracy. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be one of my very favourite TV shows! That goes without saying. 😉

Of course, the characters make this episode very lively. The contrast between Simon Templar and the annoying Belinda makes it very entertaining. We often wonder how he manages to tolerate her. But, of course, Roger Moore always has to perfect timing as Simon Templar. He is credible, and how can we resist to this low and smooth voice? While being a gentleman (or not so!) he also knew how to play comedy in a very refined way. I can definitely say Simon Templar is my favourite television male character. He’s just sooo cool! Has for Erica Rogers who plays Belinda, well, I must admit I’m not very familiar with her, having only seen her in The Saint. But I must say she does an incredible job as for the evolution of her character. As much as we are annoyed by her at the beginning, we learn to appreciate her, as she becomes, slowly but certainly, a better person.

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I must admit that there’s a thing that always make me laugh in this episode: Belinda starts doing the expedition wearing high heels… but when those [obviously] break, Simon Templar gives her another pair of shoes. These are not high-heels, but cute fancy sandals. Anyway, not the type of shoes to wear for hiking! What was going on in their mind?

But this episode also makes me nostalgic, because of the scene when Simon shows to Belinda how to wash dishes with cold water and dirt. He said he learned that in his summer camp. Well, I did that too in my summer camp, when we were going on an expedition. When you are in the woods, you have to be resourceful!

The Saint’s Golden Journey allows us to see some beautiful Spanish landscapes. However, I don’t know if it was really shot in Spain. Some natural landscapes really made me think of those here in North America. But, anyway, Simon Templar certainly knows how to find the great camping spots. The one next to the beach is just a real dream! Imagine being there, alone with Simon Templar (or Roger Moore). Ouuuuu! 😉 Hard to resist.

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If you want to see something different among The Saint‘s episodes, I think The Golden Journey would be a great example as I just explained why in this post.

If you haven’t seen this episode and wish to watch it (which I highly recommend), here is a link to do so:

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Before leaving you, I’d like you to know how I discovered this TV show. Because people often wonder how a 20 (almost 21) year old girl get to watch old television shows. I must agree, this might be more surprising than watching old movies. Well, a few years ago, my parents gave me a dvd box set with movie star documentaries. Of course, one of them was about Roger Moore. In the documentary, they were talking about The Saint and showing an excerpt alone with the opening credits (which are, by the way, so cool). So, that made me want to see it, and I discovered it was available on a website where I watch tv shows. I was immediately captivated with the first episode and charmed with Simon Templar. As a matter of fact, I often say that this is my favourite TV show. One day, I was watching it and my father saw and said “Hey, you’re watching The Saint!” Believe it or not, he was watching it too when he was young. So that’s a TV show that can interest many generations!

What I like the most about every “Saint” episodes is when Simon Templar is introduced at the beginning and then this little aureole appears above his head and then the opening credits start. It’s simply awesome.

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I ought to thanks Terence again for hosting such a nice blogathon! Of course, make sure to read the other entries, here:

The Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon.

See you soon!

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Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon: The Caravan (The Donna Reed Show)

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It’s finally here! A new blogathon! I missed them so much! This one is pretty original because, today, I won’t talk to you about one of my favourite movies, but about one of my favourite TV show episodes for The Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon hosted by A Shroud of Thoughts. For the occasion, I chose an episode from one of my very favourite classic TV shows: The Donna Reed Show. If you have read my tribute to Donna Reed, Donna Reed: What a Star!, you know how much I love this actress and this TV show as well.

Rated 9,0/10 on IMDB, “The Caravan” is, in my opinion, one of the funniest episodes of The Donna Reed Show. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re in for a treat and a good laugh! Summer vacations are coming and the Stones (Donna, Alex, Jeff, and Mary) have to plan their vacations. The only problem is that Jeff, Alex, and Mary want to do all different things. Donna is the only one who doesn’t really mind. So, to make it fair, they decide that Donna will be the one who will be in charge of the vacations and have the last word on it. Donna is not really enthusiastic, but she’s ready to try her best to make everybody happy. The next day, Donna is back with a surprise: a big camping car rented for a beautiful road trip across the USA. The children and the husband are not very convinced because, as Alex says, “It’s so big!” but after visiting the place, a real rolling house, they realized that it might be fun. So, here they go, as a happy family, with their sunglasses on their noses. Only, troubles won’t make long happen, especially for Donna to whom it’s not really a vacation because she has to cook and clean everything all the time.

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The Caravan is one of the best Donna Reed Show‘s episodes for many reasons. It’s, first, one of the episodes with the best gags. Each character (except maybe Mary) has his funny moment. My favourite one is when Alex (Carl Betz) can’t go out of his sleeping bag in the morning because the zipper is stuck. So, Donna asks to a mechanic to help him and the poor Alex is so desperate. Carl Betz makes some of his best facial expressions here. The other great touch of fun in this episode is Donna’s narration, especially when she explains that life in a camping car is not as easy as it seems: “Have you ever try cooking at 50 miles an hour? Well, take my word for it, it presents a few problems, especially when the floor is going one way and the spaghetti another.” You can imagine what happens with the spaghetti…

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What I also like about The Caravan is its burlesque touch. Many lines in this film are funny, but there are also some hilarious physical gags: when Jeff falls off his chair, when Donna tries to close the closets or tries to cook, etc. Of course, the joyful music also helps to set the tone. Another of my favourite moments is when Mary decides to organise a party… in the caravan. She only invites 2 persons (2 boys), but her parents and her brother are also here so they are a little tight in this camping car that seems to be big from the outside, but that is not that spacious once inside. One more time, during this scene, Donna has a bad experience with her cooking. But this time, a cake is involved

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I also love this episode because it shows us the importance of learning to live with each other even if it’s not always easy. And, as always, Donna Stone is the perfect mother who cares so much for her children and her husband’s happiness. Donna Reed was really the perfect actress to play this role, just like the other actors (Carl Betz, Paul Petersen, and Shelly Fabares). They form a memorable fictional family.

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So, now that you know the main reasons why you MUST see this episode,  you can now watch it! You’ll love it.

Don’t forget to read the other entries for the Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon!