The Black Tulip (1964 film)

The Black Tulip (French: La Tulipe noire) is a French-Italian-Spanish film which reused some names in the novel of the same title[4] by Alexandre Dumas but its story does not follow the novel. It is, essentially, a star vehicle for the popular French actor Alain Delon.

The Black Tulip
Film poster for La Tulipe noire
Directed byChristian-Jaque[1]
Written byHenri Jeanson
Based onthe novel The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas, père
Music byGérard Calvi
CinematographyHenri Decae
Edited byJacques Desagneaux
Mediterranean Film Productions
Agata Films
Mizar Movies
Flora Film
Distributed byDicifrance
Release date
  • February 28, 1964 (1964-02-28) (France)
Running time
110 minutes[2]
Box office3,107,512 admissions (France)[3]

Like the popular European Karl May movies of the same time, the script actually used only the main characters of a popular novel, but didn't stick to the original story.


In June 1789 in the town of Roussillon, aristocrat Guillaume de Saint Preux leads a double life as a masked bandit known as the Black Tulip. The Black Tulip only robs rich aristocrats, so the local peasants regard him as a hero. Baron La Mouche is convinced Guillaume is the Tulip. During a robbery, he scars the Tulip's face, and hopes to use this to expose Guillaume.[5]

Guillaume asks his twin brother Julien to impersonate him. Julien is much more gentler and idealistic than his brother. While the impersonation goes well at first, Julien is shocked to discover that Guillaume robs aristocrats for the thrill and the money, not for political reasons.

Julien falls in love with a peasant girl called Caroline, the daughter of the revolutionary Pantin. Caro helps teach Julien how to be a better swordsman.

When Baron La Mouche feels that there may be a connection between Guillaume de Saint Preux and the masked hero, he has Julien imprisoned. The original Black Tulip rescues him, but while Julien escapes, his brother is caught in the act and soon afterwards, executed.

In the end, Julien succeeds his brother as the Black Tulip. He rises to the occasion, and is now as good a fighter for justice as his brother was. He has also won the heart of Caroline, who supports him.



Delon made the film after seeing the success Jean Paul Belmondo had in a swashbuckler, Cartouche (1962).[3]

The film was shot on location in Spain.[6] Interiors were shot at the Victorine Studios in Nice.


The film was a big success at the French box office. It was the tenth most popular film of 1964, following The Troops of St. Tropez, The Sword in the Stone, From Russia with Love, That Man from Rio, Fantomas, The Train, Greed in the Sun, My Fair Lady and Weekend at Dunkirk.[7]

Alain Delon used this opportunity to demonstrate his range as an actor by playing both brothers. In 1975, he would again play a masked swashbuckler in his Zorro film.


  1. "La Tulipe noire". (in French). Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  2. Hassen, Kristie. "La Tulipe Noire". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  3. "Box office information for The Black Tulip". Box Office Story.
  4. "The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas as e-book". Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  5. "Saint Preux appeals to his younger brother, Julien, to assume his identity for a time". Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  6. Scheuer, P. K. (1963, May 07). 'Hawke's' adapter eyes the director. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  7. "French Box Office of 1964". Box Office Story.
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