Micheline Presle, Actress Known for ‘Devil in the Flesh,’ Dies at 101

Micheline Presle, a subtle and elegant actress who was a last link to the first golden age of French cinema, died on Feb. 21 in Nogent-sur-Marne, a suburb of Paris. She was 101.

Her death, at the Maison des Artistes, a retirement home for artists partly funded by the government, was confirmed by her son-in-law, Olivier Bomsel.

Ms. Presle (pronounced prell) was the final survivor of a trio of actresses — Danièlle Darrieux and Michèle Morgan were the other two — who were already stars in France by the outbreak of World War II, and who defined a certain style of French femininity, both at home and abroad. Ms. Presle’s subtle facial expressions conjured a wide range of human emotions, particularly in two films that, by critical consent, she never surpassed, “Le Diable au Corps,” or “Devil in the Flesh” (1947), and “Boule de Suif” (1945).

A poster for “Le Diable au Corps,” known in English as “Devil in The Flesh,” featuring Ms. Presle and Gerard Philipe. The film was, one critic said, “the major work of her career.”Credit…Everette Collection

Both of those films were based on masterpieces of French literature: The first was adapted from a novel by the brilliant but short-lived author Raymond Radiguet; the second from two short stories by Guy de Maupassant. These subtle and complex tales drew on Ms. Presle’s versatility.

“Le Diable au Corps” depicted the passionate affair between a young woman, played by Ms. Presle, whose husband was away fighting in the trenches in World War I, and a teenage schoolboy, played by the very young Gérard Philipe, who during his brief career was both France’s leading heartthrob and its greatest actor.

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