Belmondo: a life in seven films and a play

September 9, 2021 by No Comments

” Breathless “, Jean-Luc Godard, 1960: his freedom brought to the screen

” Still today, Breathless is incredibly modern. Belmondo’s atypical game moves away from the greats of the time like Jean Marais. It was an explosion a few days before Alain Delon was also brought to the attention of the public with Full sun by René Clément.

Four years after leaving the Conservatory, Breathless is a springboard for Bébel, who is shooting for the second time with Jean-Luc Godard after the superb short film Charlotte and her Jules. He who had experienced the end of his training as a heartbreak: under the cheers of his classmates, partly composed of the famous band of the Conservatory, the teachers, incredulous, had awarded him only a simple accessit.

And it is precisely this much criticized freedom that will allow it to be revealed on the screen. Everyone appreciates his good nature. During the filming, Belmondo believed that the film would not come out and it was ultimately him who launched his career. “

“Léon Morin, priest”, Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961: a seducer in a cassock

“Originally, Belmondo didn’t want this role, he was convinced that no one would believe his character in a cassock. Finally he accepted and it worked very well. The shooting still caused tensions with Jean-Pierre Melville. And for good reason, the director could not stand to see him arrive cassock on the back at the wheel of his superb convertible and flirt on the set, always with his priestly clothes!

→ THE FACTS. A national tribute will be paid to Jean-Paul Belmondo at the Invalides

Melville found it curious that the actor did not concentrate before filming like his acting partner, Emmanuelle Riva, did. But Belmondo was playing like he was in real life, there was no difference before and after the clap. Finally, he would have used “cheat sheets”, especially for the scenes in the confessional, which Melville categorically refused. Despite all this, Léon Morin, priest will remain the favorite film of his parents, and in particular of his sculptor father, Paul Belmondo. A portrait of their son in a cassock had even been framed. “

“A monkey in winter”, Henri Verneuil, 1962: Gabin meets Belmondo

Belmondo: a life in seven films and a play

“This film is an obvious passing of the torch between two monuments of French cinema: Jean Gabin and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Yet their meeting is complicated, Bébel refused to face Gabin, who was wondering what the latter was doing there. Two worlds clashed.

Eventually, their shared passion for sport brought them together. In the film, Gabin will say this famous sentence: “Come on, I kiss you. You are my 20 years old ”. And it really was, even if at the time it was not yet obvious to his younger brother who was just starting out. But he will remember this shoot all his life. Besides, his last daughter is named after the hotel he runs in the film: Stella.

A monkey in winter was heavily criticized upon its release, but so were many of its films. For The Morfalous by Henri Verneuil (1984), we even spoke of a “belmondeuse massacre”… that is to say! “

→ READ. “A monkey in winter”, a masterpiece born from a “part of the unforeseen”

“The man from Rio”, Philippe de Broca, 1964: Stuntman at heart

Belmondo: a life in seven films and a play

” In Rio man, Belmondo moves away from the films of the New Wave, to approach a lighter and more humorous genre. He will fulfill all his stunts desires. As a child, he loved to antics, which frightened his mother. Moreover, years later, the latter was not kept informed of the acrobatics that her son planned to do.

On the set of Rio man, a real friendship will be born between the actor and the official stuntman Gilles Delmare. They will educate each other. They esteemed each other very much. This love for stunts has earned Belmondo a lot of criticism, the result of a certain contempt for this profession. But he had nothing to do with it: to get from one room in the hotel to another, Belmondo found it easier to go through the facade than through the corridor!

The film had a big impact, especially in the United States, where President Robert Kennedy’s wife insisted that her husband attend the screening. This did not fail to have a great impact on the other side of the Atlantic, in favor of the feature film. “

Stavisky, Alain Resnais, 1974: the break with intellectual cinema

Belmondo: a life in seven films and a play

“Alain Resnais did not know until the end of filming that Belmondo was producing the film. The latter did not want to influence the work of the director. Once brought to the screen, Stavisky has suffered a lot of criticism: a face as sympathetic as Belmondo’s could not embody a crook!But the latter has always defended himself: a crook’s game cannot work if his dishonesty is obvious.

The film was not very successful. It marks a break with intellectual cinema. Indeed, Bébel will then shoot films for the general public. Moreover, it will be worth him to lose his place for Mr. Klein by Joseph Losey (1976): while he was approached to play the main role, it was ultimately Alain Delon who took it on. The careers of the two actors are intrinsically linked and despite some disagreements, they will remain very good friends. “

“The Ace of Aces”, Gérard Oury, 1982: Belmondian hegemony

Belmondo: a life in seven films and a play

“During this period of Belmondo’s career, all of his films score insane scores. THE’Ace of aces is part of it in the same way as The Guignolo by Georges Lautner(1980) and several others. There was a certain hegemony around Bébel: he systematically made the poster, it had become a “trademark”.

When’Ace of Aces released in theaters, it overshadows the film A room in town by Jacques Demy, these are the risks of the film industry. Several years later, Belmondo regretting that Longed for by Bernard Murat (1996) is on the bill at the same time of a big American production, will see the commentators of the time remind him what happened at the time of the release of Ace of aces

In addition, at that time, Belmondo is totally the popular actor we are talking about today, he liked the contact. He was in tune with his audience, it wasn’t a game. He was talking to people. “

→ MAINTENANCE. Jean-Paul Belmondo, “emblematic actor of a certain cinematographic modernity”

“Itinerary of a spoiled child”, Claude Lelouch, 1988: the big comeback

Belmondo: a life in seven films and a play

“This film comes after a period of exhaustion. Itinerary of a spoiled child therefore sign the great return of Belmondo. A few me before, he had turned The solitary by Jacques Deray (1987), “ the film too many that adds nothing to [sa] career “, He will admit in an interview. Claude Lelouch’s production thus breathes new life into it.

Belmondo plays Sam Lion, an entrepreneur raised in a circus. The character, tired of the life he leads, decides to pass himself off as dead. Belmondo thus addresses various fundamental themes, such as death, love, family and transmission.

His interpretation will earn him the César for best actor. Reward that he will refuse to go looking for, recalling that when he left the Conservatory, the teachers had not distinguished him. Despite this, the band of the Conservatory composed in particular of Jean-Pierre Marielle, Jean Rochefort, Françoise Fabian… remained united. And Belmondo could then laugh about it, he knew how to laugh at himself. “

“Kean”, by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1987 at the Marigny theater, directed by Robert Hossein: rebirth at the theater

Belmondo: a life in seven films and a play

“After 28 years of absence on the boards, Belmondo is returning to his lifelong passion. Kean by Jean-Paul Sartre is directed by Robert Hossein at the Théâtre Marigny. It’s his rebirth, the return to what he really loved, even though he obviously enjoyed cinema. In 1953, Belmondo had come to see Kean with Pierre Brasseur in the title role.

It was during a convalescent stay in Cantal during his childhood that he discovered his ability to make an audience laugh. However, the meeting with a friend of his father, actor at the Comédie-Française, turns out to be unsuccessful. After hearing him recite the fable theCobbler and the financier de La Fontaine, the man of the theater concludes that the child is not made to go on stage … After Kean, Belmondo will launch headlong into the theater. We will also see it in Cyrano de Bergerac or comedies by Feydeau… ”


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