Non English-language films are listed
under their English title, with the original language title following
in brackets. Where a film has never been released with an English
title, it is listed under its original title with an English
translation in square brackets.
The date given is the production date, not the release date.
A chronoligical discrepancy related to Roses
of Picardy in a film is mentioned as a curiosity. Such a mention
is not judgmental.
Links to video-sharing websites: the film
you expect to watch may have been blocked in your country.
Roses of Picardy
directed by Maurice Elvey (UK, 1927)
A young British officer pays a visit to
the village in Belgium where he was billeted in the Great War. He
remembers Madeleine who, like a mother to a child, gave him the comfort
he craved when he went to pieces after a bloody night attack.
This silent film was accompanied by music
on records or by instrumentalists playing live. Roses of Picardy
was on the playlist. In some cases, a singer would take part in the
Mr F. E. Weatherly, KC, the Famous Song Writer
Pathé Pictorial (UK, 1928)
F. E. Weatherly was an English
who wrote the lyrics of many songs, including Roses
In this silent short, he is seen in his
garden amidst blooming roses.
The front page of Roses
of Picardy sheet music is superimposed on a close-up of a rose.
The documentary can be watched on the British
Pathé channel on YouTube
Strong and Willing
Vitaphone (USA, 1930)
The american vaudevillian Trixie
Friganza sings Strong and Willing, a caricature of Roses
of Picardy written by Neville Fleeson.
It tells how Rosie O'Kerry, from a one
horse town, went to the big city and was
immediately engaged in a music hall company. The manager did not
realize the only song she could sing was Roses of Picardy.
Never mind! She will fit the song into the show's weekly theme.
She sang Roses of Picardy as
a two-part song all by herself, and carried on in a fox trot style.
Next week it was a Spanish fandango. Another week, it was a New Orleans
Trixie Friganza sings and dances in
this five-minute-long quick-change act. She does not tell how many
weeks Rosie's engagement lasted!
This reel can be watched on YouTube.
Rudy Starita and His New
in Melodies of Long Ago
Pathé Pictorial (UK, 1936)
Rudy Starita plays Roses of Picardy
on the octa-rimba, accompanied by a guitarist and an accordionist. They
carry on with Love's Old Sweet Song composed by J. L. Molloy.
This reel can be watched on the British
Pathé channel on YouTube
Forever and a Day
directed by Edmund Goulding, and others
a portmanteau film
This film was made with the entire
British colony in the Hollywood studios as a war effort to raise money
for charities. Producteurs, writers, directors, actors and main
technicians volunteered. Haydn Wood agreed that no fee would be paid
for including Roses of Picardy in the film.
The film tells in as many episodes, the
changing fortunes of one mansion in London from 1804 when it was built,
through 1941 when it was destroyed by the Blitz. The episode directed
by Edmund Goulding starts in 1917; the mansion is by then a boarding
house. On 11 novembre 1918, the patrons—civilians or military, manager
and staff, and friends, have a party to celebrate the armistice. They
waltz and sing while a sailor plays Roses
of Picardy at the piano.
directed by Maclean Rogers (UK, 1943)
The son of the
Queen's Theatre manager visits his parents to introduce his fiancée to
them (he is a soldier on leave). The show is about to begin; one can
hear from the lobby the orchestra playing Roses of Picardy.
The sequence begins
with a close-up of a sign announcing that today 20 May 1915, soldiers
pay half price—and yet in actuality, Roses of Picardy was not
published in England until January 1917.
This Happy Breed
directed by David Lean (UK, 1944)
London, 1919: Frank Gibbons is
demobilized after four years in the war. He has got a job in a travel
agency which proposes package tours to the main battlefields of the
David Lean shows the agency's window
with flags and a picture of soldiers patrolling a devastated field.
An orchestral arrangement of the chorus of
Roses of Picardy is background music to this
I Live in Grosvenor Square
(aka A Yank in London)
The Duke of Exmoor has given his residence
in London for use by American GIs. His housekeeper doesn't like
foreigners, so she says, but she secretly sews their uniforms' buttons
back on and mends their socks. As she does, she listens to a music box
which plays Roses of Picardy.
directed by Herbert Wilcox (UK, 1945)
Devil in the Flesh
(Le Diable au corps)
directed by Claude Autant-Lara (France,
François and Marthe meet again in a pub
in Paris. She suddenly lets him believe that she is engaged; at this
point, a service man at a piano starts playing Roses of Picardy
in a rather joyful manner.
Later at a restaurant, François alludes to
the promised Nivelle Offensive. This places the scene by early April
1917, which was actually too soon for Roses of Picardy to be
well known in France.
The Courtneys of Curzon
Street (aka Kathy's Love Affair)
directed by Herbert Wilcox (UK, 1947)
England, 1900: despite his mother's
opposition, the lieutenant Edward Courtney marries Kate, their
chambermaid. A few months later, Kate moves away from him so as not to
hamper his military career. She has always been a lovely singer and
succeeds in getting an engagement in a theatre, and later becomes a
During the Great War in Arras, France,
Edward goes to an entertainment for the troops where he unexpectedly
sees Kate singing Roses of Picardy, accompanied by a small
orchesta. The soldiers join in the chorus the second time around.
Edward goes backstage to find Kate, and they promise to never part
Anna Neagle is Kate. She prerecorded Roses
of Picardy with a bigger orchestra than the orchestra seen in the
It's the Great Pumpkin,
Snoopy wearing his World War I flying ace
costume is entertained by Schroeder who plays famous wartime tunes at
the piano. He bursts into tears when he hears Roses of Picardy.
directed by Bill Melendez (USA, 1966)
Oh! What a Lovely War
directed by Richard Attenborough (UK, 1968)
At an Army Ball in December 1915, soon
after Douglas Haig has been appointed as the new Commander in Chief of
the British expeditionary force, guests can be seen waltzing to the
music of Roses of Picardy.
There is a chronological discrepancy here:
Roses of Picardy was actually written in 1916,
and the waltz arrangement published in 1919.
Those Daring Young Men in
Their Jaunty Jalopies
This is a farcical film about the Monte
Carlo rally in the 1920s. The competitors from various places in Europe
drive to Chambéry, the common destination where they are billeted at
the same hotel. Each of them breaks out into singing bits of the chorus
of Roses of Picardy while they are in the toilets.
(aka Monte Carlo or Bust!)
directed by Ken Annakin (Italy, France,
laulu [Solveig's Song]
directed by Reima Kekäläinen (Finland, 1973)
television series, episode 3
During the 1930s and 1940s in Helsinki,
Solveig had a difficult childhood and adolescence, what with a bad
mother and a loving but ailing father.
Later in the 1950s, she is walking in
the snow with her boyfriend; this is the day of her first kiss. Roses
of Picardy is the background music to this moment of happiness.
References are not known for this
recording of the chorus of Roses of Picardy for saxophone
Downstairs: Peace out of Pain
directed by Christopher Hodson (UK, 1974)
television series: season 4,
London, November 1918, a few days
before the armistice: Hazel Bellamy is in bed with a high fever. One
can hear Roses of Picardy
played on a gramophone by her husband in his room next door. The doctor
wishes that Hazel rests in a quieter ambience.
References are not known for this
recording of the chorus of Roses of Picardy sung by a tenor
with piano accompaniment.
The episode can be watched on YouTube.
directed by Jack Gold (UK, 1975)
October 1917: a Royal Flying Corps
squadron is based near Amiens in Picardy. At the mess hall, the captain
enjoys playing the chorus of Roses of Picardy at the piano.
Superior officers and lower ranks have
dinner together. A few pilots hum Roses of Picardy to hide
their concern about a missing comrade-in-arms. When his death is
confirmed, they carry on humming as if nothing had happened.
A couple of days later, their leader
takes some of his men on a binge to a nightclub in Amiens. A singer
gives Roses of Picardy, accompanied by a pianist.
She sings the chorus of the French
version which actually was published in 1918.
MASH: Old Soldiers
directed by Charles S. Durbin (USA, 1979)
television series: season
8, episode 18
The Korean war in
1950: refugee orphans are looked after at an American field hospital.
Colonel Potter withdraws into his office to remember his four
comrades-in-arms of the Great War; the last of them has just died in
hospital in Tokyo. Potter plays a record of Roses of Picardy
together with a Korean kid who has stepped into the office when he
heard the music through the door.
This recording of Roses of Picardy
was probably recorded especially for the episode. It is a duet for
violin and accordion with added clicks typical of a 78 rpm record.
One Deadly Summer
directed by Jean Becker (France, 1982)
Éliane was born after her mother was
raped by three men, one of them being a street musician who would go
from city to city pulling a player piano.
He is dead now
but under a drive for vengeance, Éliane flirts with his son and soon
asks him about the player piano. 'Hey, how did you hear about it? …
It's a pity it can play one tune only!'
They make love that night at his place,
and the next morning she searches and finds the piano abandoned in a
barn. She dusts it off and unveils the monogram M, the initial of the
man who could have been her father.
Another day, haunted by the rape,
Éliane spins herself around and around until she faints beside the
Later in the film, a flashback develops
at length as to how the rape happened.
Jean Becker and the composer Georges
Delerue chose Roses of Picardy as the only tune which the
piano can play. Actually, the piano is never activated in the film. Roses
of Picardy is only heard as a haunting recollection at each
instance described above.
A Passage to India
India, the 1920s: the English
Administrator of Chandrapore (an imaginary town) has condescended to
give a reception for the local Indian elite in the Club's garden. This
is an unprecedented event which he hopes will not be repeated, so that
the Club will remain strictly forbidden to Indian people. During the
reception, a military band plays Roses of Picardy.
directed by David Lean (UK, 1984)
He Died with His Eyes Open
(On ne meurt que
The detective Staniland investigates the
murder of a well-known pianist, Charly Berliner. He hears from a barman
about how Charly, when he couldn't bear an unhappy love affair, would
go to the bar late at night and sit at the piano: 'You wouldn't believe
it, an artiste, he was on familiar terms with Beethoven … he would play
the Roses of Picardy, old crap of the '20s!' The detective
and the barman have fun with humming together the chorus of Roses
directed by Jacques Deray (France, 1985)
A Month in the Country
directed by Pat O'Connor (UK, 1986)
Summer in the early 1920s: Tom Birkin,
a young man emotionally suffering from his participation in the Great
War, has arrived by train from London to a remote Yorkshire village for
a month's job, restoring a mural in the local church. The
stationmaster's children, to keep him company, bring a gramophone they
install upon the baptismal font. The first record they put on for him
is Roses of Picardy. While it is playing, the children have
almost an argument with Tom about the lilies in a religious painting
they have at home; Tom muses, "Why just lilies? Why not roses, or
lilies and roses, or just roses, or roses and daisies?" He will not
allow them to climb up the ladder and look at his work in progress.
One morning he thinks he hears the
children entering the church and he immediately tells them that he
doesn't want Roses of Picardy today. When he turns around, he
sees the vicar's charming wife who dares join him on the scaffolding to
look at the mural; she wears a hat with one of the old roses she grows
in the vicarage's garden.
The chorus of Roses of Picardy,
arranged for violin and piano, followed by a few bars for string
orchestra, is heard in the film once only. Yet rose symbolism pervades
through several scenes.
The Whales of August
directed by Lindsay Anderson (USA, 1986)
Sarah tenderly looks at a picture of
her late husband (in uniform) and talks to him with a glass of wine in
her hand, a red rose and a white rose beside her: '46 years, Philip, 46
red roses, 46 white, white for truth, red for passion.' Then she puts
the gramophone on and listens to Roses of Picardy, with the
red rose in her hand.
Lindsay Anderson chose a recording by the
tenor John McCormack with an orchestra conducted by Josef Pasternack
(Camden, New Jersey, USA, 1919).
directed by John Gorrie (UK, 1987)
England, 1934: Alma, an ex-pianist and
composer, talks to George, her young servant. Learning that he was born
in November 1916, she confides to him that she married her first
husband in 1916. He was 19 when he left for the French front, and she
never saw him again. Seated at her piano, she nostalgically tinkles the
keys and hums the chorus of Roses of Picardy, and bursts into
The beginning of Cause célèbre,
including the scene described above, can be watched on YouTube.
directed by Woody Allen (USA, 1988)
Marion is a New York philosophy
professor on sabbatical leave who is facing a mid-life crisis. She pays
a visit to her brother Paul with whom she long had a difficult
In the corridor leading to Paul's
office, one can hear Roses of Picardy played in a nearby
room. While they talk, Paul goes and shuts his office door, putting an
end to this musical presence.
Woody Allen chose Frankie Carle's piano
rendition of Roses of Picardy (New York, 1947).
For a previous film, Radio Days
(1986), Allen wrote a scene about an amateur radio channel: the
Coopers broadcast from their garage; the mother introduces the
programme, and plays the piano accompaniment for her daughter who sings
Roses of Picardy; the father is in charge of all
technicities. The scene was shot but it was not included in the final
version of the film.
The House of Eliott
directed by Graeme Harper (UK, 1992)
television series: season 2, episode 2
The House of Eliott is a London high
society fashion house in the 1920s. Beatrice Eliott invites Alice
Burgoyne to tea with the idea of hiring her, because she believes her
to be an experienced saleswoman with an established list of clientele.
While they discuss the matter in the elegant tearoom, a violin and
piano duo plays Roses of Picardy.
Actually one doesn't see the two
musicians. This performance of Roses of Picardy was probably
recorded especially for the episode.
The episode can be watched on YouTube.
Johnny and the Dead
directed by Gerald Fox (UK, 1994)
television series: episode 3
England, the 1990s: the Blackbury
cemetery is sold to property developers. The dead appear to Johnny, a
boy who likes strolling around there; they ask him to help them save
Two of the dead, Fletcher and Einstein,
decide to go to their favorite pub after so many years. They find that
the place hasn't changed much, but to them the jukebox is making
terrible music. Fletcher presses a button and instantly Roses of
Picardy takes over. Einstein starts humming the chorus. This tune
of another age spreads confusion and, although a middle-aged lady sings
along, all customers and staff run out when the pinball machine and the
jukebox both short-circuit. The dead are left alone in the dark and
have a beer, much to their delight.
Roses of Picardy is performed by
Freddy Gardner on the saxophone with Peter Yorke and His Concert
Orchestra (London, UK, 1948).
Black Holes (I
directed by Pappi Corsicato (Italy, 1995)
and Angela are two tormented souls in search of tenderness and
love. He is a homosexual whose job is driving a truck to take
rotten bananas to the dump. She is a prostitute.
One he dreams that they are making
love at the bottom of the Gulf of Naples. Suddenly, dozens of bananas
floating in the water sink over him while she surfaces.
This dream sequence is accompanied by Roses
of Picardy performed by Eddie Calvert on the
trumpet, with Norrie Paramor and His Orchestra (London, UK, 31 January
Holes can be watched on Vimeo.
Léargas: Ná Lig Sinn i
[Léargas: Lest We Be Forgotten ...]
directed by Pat Butler (Ireland, 2003)
documentary remembers the some fifty-five thousand Irish nationalists
who fell fighting with the British Army in the Great War.
Irish writer Pól Ó Muiri is in Albert (Somme, France) on his way to the
battlefield where his own relation, James Murray, died in 1916.
This sequence in Albert (from
the railway station to the basilica) is accompanied by the chorus of Roses of Picardy performed
by the tenor John McCormack with an orchestra
conducted by Josef
Pasternack (Camden, New Jersey, USA, 1919).
This documentary can be watched on YouTube.
Ladies in Lavender
directed by Charles Dance (UK, 2003)
The coast of Cornwall in 1936: two
elderly spinster sisters, Ursula and Janet, take into their home and
soon into their hearts, a young Polish shipwreck survivor, Andrea.
Ursula has a dream: she as a young girl is rolling in a sunny field in
a loving embrace with Andrea; but soon in her dream, Andrea is looking
tenderly at their neighbour, a young lady the sisters are a little
The chorus of Roses of Picardy
is background music throughout Ursula's dream and continues into the
next sequence, just long enough to show a photograph of a soldier on
Janet's bedside table. Janet, a volunteer nurse in the Great War,
became very close to this soldier whose wounds she tended, and who
later died fighting.
Roses of Picardy is sung by
the tenor John McCormack, with Edwin Schneider at the piano (New York,
1928). Dream-like reverberation and echo were added to the original
directed by James Strong (UK, 2011)
television series: season 2, episode 8
Yorkshire, 1919: cousins of Lavinia
has given her a gramophone. She tries it out with Lady Mary who puts on
a record of Roses of Picardy. The dowager Countess of
Grantham does not welcome this new technology in
Downton Abbey Castle.
Roses of Picardy
is sung by a tenor, with piano accompaniment. One hears the song, as it
quickly fades into the background, starting from the piano introduction
through the second line of the first verse.
directed by Steven Spielberg (USA, 2011)
Dartmoor, Devon, 1914: to pay the rent,
Ted Narracott sells his son Albert's beloved horse Joey to Captain
Nicholls of the British Army. Nicholls promises Albert that he will
take good care of the horse and possibly bring it back to him after the
Captain Nicholls and Joey go off to
train for battle, and Joey meets and becomes friends with another
horse. While they are nuzzling, the song Roses of Picardy
subtly begins ...
... played on a gramophone while
Nicholls, still in England, draws a portrait of Joey to send to Albert.
Nicholls and Joey with their unit have
been transferred to France. The song carries on for a short moment over
a shot of the cavalry who is going to attack a German unit at
Quiévrechain in 1914.
Since Roses of Picardy was not
written until 1916, there is a chronological discrepancy here. Sung by
the tenor John McCormack with an orchestra conducted by Josef
Pasternack (Camden, New Jersey, USA, 1919), one hears the chorus only,
repeated as a loop a couple of times.
directed by Philip Martin (UK,
television series: episode 1
A trench near
Béthune, 1916 : Lieutenant Wraysford and Captain Weir get a break in a
dugout. Wraysford plays solitaire and turns over the Queen of Spades
while Weir has a shave before he half-heartedly opens a package sent by
A faintly audible gramophone is playing
Roses of Picardy.
Roses of Picardy was not
recorded until 1917, and Philip Martin chose a recording from 1919—by
the tenor John McCormack with an orchestra conducted by Josef
Pasternack (Camden, New Jersey, USA).
Note that another song was substitued for Roses
of Picardy on the DVD of Birdsong.
Les Fils du vent [Sons of the Wind]
directed by Bruno Le Jean (France)
This feature-length documentary portrays gypsy jazz artistes who perpetuate the legacy of Django Reinhardt.
Saint-Quay-Portrieux (Côtes-d'Armor, France), one of them, Tchavolo Schmitt,
plays a uniquely contemplative rendition of Roses of Picardy while sitting on a deck overlooking the English Channel (year unknown; Les Fils du vent was shot
over eight years and released in 2012).
Before the Winter Chill
directed by Philippe Claudel
(France, Luxembourg, 2012)
Paul, a successful French neurosurgeon,
has been married to Lucie for about thirty years. They are still very
much in love, although their relationship has developed ongoing
patterns of lack of communication. After a tense dinner, he puts a
record on and they tenderly dance to Roses of Picardy, sung
It is about then that they start
getting anonymous bouquets of red roses, delivered to his office at the
hospital, or at home.
The recording chosen by Philippe Claudel
includes the chorus only of Roses of Picardy, by the Irish
entertainer Sonny Knowles (circa 1972).
An Accidental Soldier
directed by Rachel Ward
A town in France near to the front,
March 1918: Australian soldiers are idly hanging around outdoors
waiting to be called up to
– Think we'll ever get there?
– I think there is no hurry to get myself
– Yeah, we can't go back without seeing the show, can we? It wouldn't
A gramophone installed on the street is
playing Roses of Picardy.
the tenor Ernest Pike with an orchestra conducted by Arthur Wood
(London, 12 May 1917), one hears the beginning of the chorus of Roses
of Picardy which quickly fades into the background.
The Danish Girl
directed by Tom Hooper
Copenhagen, Denmark, 1926: Einar and
Gerda Wegener, both emerging painters, are a happily married young
While chatting at a party, they recount
the day they first met:
– We went for coffee, and after, I kissed him. And it was the strangest
thing. It was like kissing myself.
One can hear softly in the background
an ensemble playing Roses of Picardy.
is performed by Certains L'Aiment Chaud, an all-female jazz orchestra
(Soignolles-en-Brie, France, January 2002). One hears their
introduction, which is the melody of the verses of
Roses of Picardy.