Anne de Green Gables (1957 Television Special)

Anne de Green Gables is a 59-minute non-musical special that aired on CBFT, a Montreal station of Radio-Canada (the French-language Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), on 8 September 1957, as part of the umbrella series Théâtre populaire, the French-language equivalent to CBC Folio. Based on Anne of Green Gables by Lucy-Maud [sic] Montgomery, the special was translated and adapted by Jean Hamelin, produced by Radio-Canada, and directed by Jacques Gauthier. Roger Morin was technical producer.

The cast included Mirielle Lachance as Anne de Green Gables, Marthe Thiery as Marilla Cuthbert, Paul Guèvremont as Matthew Cuthbert, Germaine Giroux as Rachel Lynde, Lise Lasalle as Diane Barry, Hervé Brousseau as Gilbert Blythe, Clémence Desrochers as Jane Andrews, Roland Lepage as M. Phillips, and Ernest Guimond as Le Chef de Gare (Stationmaster).

Very little information is available about this live dramatic production. According to Société Radio-Canada, no copies are housed in either the SRC archives or at Library and Archives Canada. The review by Marcel Valois in the Montreal daily paper La Presse, the only resource I have found, is enthusiastic but ultimately damning of Montgomery’s source text:

Thanks to a meticulous translation and clever adaptation by Jean Hamelin, a straightforward but daring production by Jacques Gauthier, and a sober yet shrewdly nuanced performance by the actors, the production of Anne of Green Gables brought to life last Sunday on Théâtre populaire had a palpability most likely absent in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel. This sentimental bookstore novel, highly successful in Canada and in other countries where English is spoken, is intended for women and girls who are innocent and tender-hearted, although Dickens and Daudet were not above writing about people of modest means leading uneventful lives. The story of the orphan girl who wins over her adoptive parents, becomes their pride and consolation, and who then ends up like everyone else, married to a run-of-the-mill young man who has worshipped her since adolescence, has been retold on countless occasions to all the Jennifers and Audrys of the world.

There was nothing trite or boring in Sunday night’s television play about life in the House of Green Gables with the arrival of this adolescent girl, played by Mirielle Lachance…. Anne can be pigheaded and is prone to tantrums. She blames this on her red hair, which she loathes. (51)

What is perhaps most surprising about the inclusion of Anne of Green Gables in this umbrella series is that a French-language translation was not widely available at this time. A Swiss translation, Anne ou les illusions heureuses, had appeared in 1925, but I have not yet been able to discern how widely or for how long it was readily available. A Parisian translation, Anne et le bonheur, followed in 1964, but a French-Canadian translation did not appear until 1986.

Further Reading

Valois, Marcel. Review of Anne de Green Gables, directed by Jacques Gauthier. La Presse (Montreal), 14 September 1957, 50–51. Courtesy translation by Gerald M. Lefebvre.