Lady L
Directed byPeter Ustinov
Screenplay byPeter Ustinov
Based onLady L
1963 novel
by Romain Gary
Produced byCarlo Ponti
StarringSophia Loren
Paul Newman
David Niven
CinematographyHenri Alekan
Edited byRoger Dwyre
Music byJean Françaix
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • 25 November 1965 (1965-11-25)
(World Premiere, London)
Running time
117 minutes
United Kingdom
Box office$2.7 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)[1]

Lady L is a 1965 comedy film based on the novel by Romain Gary and directed by Peter Ustinov. Starring Sophia Loren, Paul Newman, David Niven and Cecil Parker,[2] the film focuses on an elderly Corsican lady as she recalls the loves of her life, including an anarchist and an English aristocrat. The ending of the film is very different from the ending of the novel.[3]


As she approaches her 80th birthday, the sophisticated and still attractive Lady Lendale (widely known as "Lady L") recounts to her biographer, Sir Percy, the story of her life.

Fleeing her humble origins in Corsica, she travels to Paris, where she finds work in a brothel. There she falls in love with a thief and anarchist, Armand, and becomes pregnant by him. But before he can use a bomb to assassinate a Bavarian prince, she meets the wealthy Lord Lendale, who is so enchanted by the young woman that he offers to help her and Armand escape if she will agree to marry him. He explains that several of his high society relatives are mad and he wants new blood in his family.

Lady L becomes a woman of means, moving in high society, and together she and Lord Lendale raise a large family and many of their children achieve high class positions. In the end, however, she reveals her secret: with Lord Lendale's help, she has continued to be the lover of Armand, who has fathered all their children while posing as the family's chauffeur.



MGM spent $2 million on pre-production for the film before cancelling the project.[4]

It was later restarted as an international co-production between France, Italy and the United Kingdom. Castle Howard in Yorkshire was used for the shooting of some scenes. Interiors were shot at the Victorine Studios in Nice.


The film had its world premiere at the Empire, Leicester Square in the West End of London on 25 November 1965.[5]


  1. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1966", Variety, 4 January 1967 p 8
  2. ^ [user-generated source]
  3. ^ Gary, Romain (1959). Lady L., a novel. Internet Archive. New York, Simon and Schuster.
  4. ^ "Proxy Battle-Scarred Joe Vogel, Of Metro No-Fun Era, Is Dead". Variety. 5 March 1969. p. 4.
  5. ^ The Times 25/11/65, page 2