Synopsis by Mark Deming
Set in the 1930s, Premier de Cordee begins as Zian (Frederic Gorny), a young man who has traveled from his birthplace in the Alps to Paris, returns to his family home just as his father, a mountain guide, dies after being struck by lightning. Zian has chosen to carry on in his father's work, although he's very much aware of the dangers involved. Along with the death of his father, he's also been confronted with the sad fate of his best friend, who went into the mountains to rescue Ruspoli (Giuliano Gemma), the rich client stranded by the death of Zian's father. When the young man returned, it was discovered he had lost his toes to frostbite. However, Zian is determined to become a guide, and he soon wins the attentions of Ruspoli's daughter, Bianca (Silvia de Santis), even though her socially prominent family is not happy that she's become involved with a poverty-stricken mountaineer. A climbing accident leaves Zian with a chronic case of vertigo that threatens his new career, but with Bianca's help he sets his sights on conquering Mount Blanc. Based on a series of three novels by Roger Frison-Roche (which were previously adapted for the screen in 1943), Premier de Cordee was originally shot on videotape for broadcast by French, Italian, and Swiss television networks, though it was later transferred to film for theatrical screenings.