Romuald Joubé in J'Accuse
French postcard. Sadag de France, Imp., Paris, No. 109.
Romuald Joubé (1876-1949) was an actor of French silent cinema, who became famous for his part in Abel Gance’s J’accuse (1918).
Romuald Joubé, originally Romuald, Charles, Eugène Goudens Jean Sylve Joubé was born 20 June 1876 in Mazères en Ariège. Joubé already acted around 1900 on stage, with the troupe of the Nouveau-Théàtre of Paris, directed by Lugné-Poë. Around 1909 he started at the Théàtre de l’Odéon with plays directed by André Antoine, the master of Naturalism in French theatre. In 1910 he debuted in the film d’art cinéma films, playing in various shorts, often directed by Henri Desfontaines: Shylock, le marchand de Venise (Henri Desfontaines 1910), Polyeucte (Camille de Morlhon 1910), Philémon et Baucis (Georges Denola 1911) in which he was Philemon, Le Roman de la momie (Albert Capellani 1911), Milton (Desfontaines 1911), La Mégère apprivoisée (Desfontaines 1911), Le Colonel Chabert (Henri Pouctal/André Calmettes 1911) as Chabert himself, Brittanicus (De Morlhon 1912) in the title role, Antar (Pathé 1912), Parmi les pierres (Adrien Caillard 1912), Sublime amour (Desfontaines 1913), Marie Tudor (Capellani 1913), Serge Panine (Pouctal 1913), L'avocate (Gaston Ravel (1913), La Carabine de la mort (Desfontaines 1913), Le Baiser supreme (Edmond Floury 1913), Larron d'honneur (Pathé 1913), La Reine Margot (Desfontaines 1914), Les Deux gosses (Capellani 1914), L’Arriviste (Gaston Leprieur 1914), Pêcheur d'Islande (Pouctal 1915), Amour sacré (Dominique Bernard-Deschamps 1915), La Forêt qui écoute (Desfontaines 1916), and Le Dernier rêve (Desfontaines 1916).
In 1917 Joubé started to act in various features by André Antoine, who transferred his Naturalism onto cinema as well: the Dumas père adaptation Les Frères corses (1917), the François Coppée adaptation Le Coupable (1917), and the fishermen drama Les Travailleurs de la mer (1918), based on Victor Hugo. By now Joubé was playing both leading parts (André Cornelis, 1918) and supporting roles (Simone, 1918; Sublime offrande, 1919). In 1918-1919, however, Joubé played one of his most famous roles in the pacifist, First World War drama J’Accuse/ I Accuse by Abel Gance, which was released in France in April 1919, so few months after the Armistice. Joubé plays Jean Diaz, a poet who is in love with Edith (Marise Dauvray), the wife of François Laurin (Séverin-Mars). The two men meet in the trenches and experience the horrors of the war. Laurin saves Diaz’ life and sacrifices himself for the benefit of the other two. Edith is raped by a German, raising the fruit of this encounter despite hostility. Maddened, Diaz returns from the trenches, despises his art and asks the village inhabitants: was it worthwhile, all the sacrifices, while the ghosts of the killed soldiers march up to them.
With J’Accuse Joubé established his career, though he didn’t continue to act with Gance. Instead he performed opposite Emmy Lynn in La faute d’Odette Marchal (Henri Roussel 1920), opposite Huguette Duflos in Mademoiselle de La Seiglière (André Antoine 1921), opposite Sylviane Dumont in Fleur de neige (Paul Barlatier 1921) and he played the title role in the Jules Verne adaptation Mathias Sandorf (Fescourt 1921). Subsequently he played opposite Pierre Fresnay in Le Diamant noir/The Black Diamond (André Hugon 1922) and opposite Nathalie Lissenko in La Fille sauvage (Henri Etievant 1922). From 1923 Joubé played less frequently in film, alternating with the stage (e.g. the title role in Peer Gynt, Paris 1924), but he still had big film roles as Andréa in Rouletabille chez les bohémiens (Fescourt 1923) with Gabriel de Gravone, as the title character in the historical adventure film Mandrin (Fescourt 1924) costarring Jacqueline Blanc, as a mystery man opposite De Gravone in Le Manoir de la peur (Alfred Machin, released 1927), and as chevalier Robert Cottereau in the lavish period piece Le Miracle des loups/Miracle of the Wolves (Raymond Bernard 1924). In 1925 Joubé not only acted opposite Lilian Constantini in La Chèvre aux pieds d'or (Jacques Robert, released 1926), but also went to Italy to act in several historical films by Giulio Antamoro: La Fanciulla di Pompei /La madone du rosaire (1925), La Cieca di Sorrento (1925) and Frate Francesco (1927). Probably Joubé’s last silent film was the Henri Kistemaeckers adaptation Princesse Masha (René Leprince 1927). The film is about an illegitimate Russian princess, raised by revolutionary intellectuals, who flees to Paris during the revolution and falls in love with a Frenchman (Joubé), but marries a cruel Russian ambassador to save her foster father (in vain). Returned to Russia during the war, she tries to flea again, with her French lover, and sacrifices herself in the end for his honor. The film starred Claudia Victrix, a French singer who debuted in this film. Costars were Jean Toulout and Andrée Brabant.
When sound cinema became standard in France, Joubé didn’t act in films for years, though he was visible in a sonorised version of Le Miracle des loups (1930). In 1929 he acted in various stage plays in Canada, together with Germaine Rouer: Le monde où l'on s'ennuie, Primerose, El Cid and La Flambée. In the same year he also acted in Histoires de France, the play by Sacha Guitry that opened the new Théàtre Pigalle in Paris in 1929. In 1937 he returned to the film set with a small part as Jean Diaz in Abel Gance’s own remake of J’accuse (released 1938), while the larger share of the character was played by Victor Francen. That year he also played Clouet in Sacha Guitry’s period piece Les Perles de la couronne (1937). Joubé played his last roles in film and on stage during the Second World War: on stage he played in the Simenon adaptation Le Pavillon d'Asnières (1943), while on the set he performed in Andorra ou les hommes d'Airain (Émile Couzinet 1942), Chant de l'exilé (André Hugon 1943) and Le Brigand gentilhomme (Couzinet 1943). Romuald Joubé died on 14 Septembre 1949 in Gisors (Eure).