27 November 2011

Alain Delon

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s Alain Delon (1935) was the breathtakingly good-looking James Dean of the French cinema. The 'male Brigitte Bardot' soon proved to be also a magnificent actor in masterpieces by Luchino Visconti and Michelangelo Antonioni. In the late 1960's Delon came to epitomise the calm, psychopathic hoodlum in the 'policiers' of Jean-Pierre Melville, staring into the camera like a cat assessing a mouse.

Alain Delon
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 22. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Alain Delon
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. CK 299 (French licency holder for Universum-Film A.G. (Ufa)). Photo: Sam Lévin.

Alain Delon
German postcard by Krüger. Photo: Ufa.

Alain Delon
German postcard by ISV, no. H 25.

Alain Delon
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 469. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Stormy Childhood
Alain Fabien Maurice Marcel Delon was born in Sceaux, a suburb of Paris in 1935. His parents, Édith Arnold and Fabien Delon, divorced when Delon was four. He had a stormy childhood and was six times expelled from different schools. At 14, Delon left school, and worked for a brief time at his stepfather's butcher shop. Three years later, the 17-year-old enlisted in the French Marines, serving in Indochina as a parachutist. In the mid-1950’s he worked at various odd jobs, including as a waiter, salesman, and porter in the Les Halles market. During this time he became friends with the actress Brigitte Auber, and joined her on a trip to the Cannes Film Festival, where his film career would begin with a screentest for David O’Selznick. He didn't go to Hollywood, but decided to stay in France, and he made his film debut in Quand la femmes s'en mele/Send a Woman When the Devil Fails (1957, Yves Allégret). In 1958, during the making of the love story Christine (1959, Pierre Gaspard-Huit) he met Romy Schneider. They would be engaged till 1964. Delon’s first outstanding success came with the role of the parasite Tom Ripley in the sundrenched thriller Plein soleil/Purple Noon (1960, René Clément), based on the crime novel The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Delon presented a psychological portrait of a murderous young cynic who attempts to take on the identity of his victim. Luchino Visconti offered him a totally different role in Rocco e i suoi fratelli/Rocco and His Brothers (1960, Luchino Visconti). In this film, he plays the devoted Sicilian immigrant Rocco, who accepts the greatest sacrifices to save his characterless brother Simon, played by Renato Salvatori. Delon received international recognition for this role.

Alain Delon
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne Eickel, nr. 419. Photo: Sam Lévin, 1957.
Happy birthday, Alain Delon!
French postcard by Editions P.I., no. 1004. Offered by Les Carbones Korès 'Carboplane'. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Alain Delon
French postcard by Editions P.I., no. 1026. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Happy birthday, Alain Delon!
French postcard by Editions du Globe (EDUG), Paris, no. 838. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Alain Delon
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 3980. Photo: N.V. Meteor Film/Speva/Play Art Prod. Publicity still for Christine/Liebelei(1958, Pierre Gaspard-Huit).

Alain Delon
French postcard by Editions du Globe, no. 831. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Romy Schneider, Alain Delon
German postcard by Franz Josef Rüdel Filmpostkartenverlag, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 2638. Photo: Safra-Gloria-Film/Vogelmann. Publicity still for Christine (1958, Pierre Gaspard-Huit).

Alain Delon and Romy Schneider in Christine
Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht. Photo: NV Meteor Film. Publicity still for Christine (1958, Pierre Gaspard-Huit).

Alain Delon, Romy Schneider
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam, no. 1207, ca. 1959. Photo: Ufa/Film-foto. This happy picture was shot at the engagement party of Romy Schneider and Alain Delon.

The Eclipse
The following year Alain Delon made his stage debut in Paris in Dommage qu'elle soit une putain/'Tis Pity She’s a Whore, alongside Romy Schneider. The play, written by John Ford, and directed by Luchino Visconti, ran for more than 8 months. Delon also gave tremendous performances in L'Eclisse/The Eclipse (1962, Michelangelo Antonioni) opposite Monica Vitti, and the epic Il Gattopardo/The Leopard (1963, Luchino Visconti) starring opposite Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale. L’Eclisse won the Special Prize of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival, and the following year Il Gattopardo won the Golden Palm in Cannes. After these acclaimed Italian films, Alain Delon returned to France and to the crime film in Mélodie en sous-sol/The Big Snatch (1963, Henri Verneuil) with Jean Gabin. This classic genre film was distinguished by a soundly worked-out screenplay, by careful production and by excellent performances of both Gabin and Delon. It was in the late sixties that Delon came to epitomise the calm, psychopathic hoodlum, staring into the camera like a cat assessing a mouse. His tough, ruthless side was used to grand effect in Le Samouraï/The Godson (1967, Jean-Pierre Melville), maybe Delon’s finest moment. Later Melville directed him again in the crime films Le Cercle Rouge/The Red Circle (1970) with Bourvil and Yves Montand, and Un Flic/A Cop (1972) with Catherine Deneuve. In 1968 Delon also in real life got involved in a murder scandal when one of his bodyguard was found shot dead on a garbage dump nearby Delon's house. Eventually Delon was cleared of all charges. In the cinema he had a huge success in the bloodstained Borsalino (1970, Jacques Deray). He and Jean Paul Belmondo played small-time gangsters who become kings of the Marseilles underworld of the 1930's. He also produced Borsalino, and the film became one of France’s highest grossing films of the time. Between 1968 and 1990 he went on to produce 26 films.

Alain Delon
French postcard by the Bibliothèque Nationale Paris/Imp. Bussière A.G., Paris, 1990. Photo: Roger Pic. Alain Delon in the play Dommage qu'elle soit une p.../'Tis Pity She’s a Whore directed by Luchino Visconti (1961).

Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/96, ca. 1961. Photo Sam Lévin. Publicity photo for Amours célèbres (1961, Michel Boisrond). Alain Delon and Brigitte Bardot starred in the segment Agnès Bernauer.

Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/95, ca. 1961. Photo Sam Lévin. Another sexy publicity photo for Amours célèbres (1961, Michel Boisrond).

Alain Delon
Dutch postcard by 't Sticht, Utrecht, no. 6176.

Alain Delon
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. 444. Photo: Privat.

Alain Delon
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. FK 42. Photo: Unifrance Film/Philippe R. Doumic.

Roles Against Type
In later years Alain Delon won critical acclaim for roles against type. In the Kafkaesk thriller Mr. Klein (1976, Joseph Losey) he was brilliant as the icily sinister art trader in German-occupied France. In 1985 he was awarded the César Award as Best Actor for his role as an alcoholic in Notre histoire/Our Story (1984, Bertrand Blier). Another acclaimed role was the homosexual Baron de Charlus in the fine Marcel Proust adaptation Un amour de Swann/Swann in Love (1984, Volker Schlöndorf). And in 1990, Delon worked with New Wave auteur Jean-Luc Godard on Nouvelle vague/New Wave (1990), in which he played twins. He also directed two films himself, Pour la peau d'un flic/For a Cop's Hide (1981) and Le Battant/The Fighter (1983). A string of box office disasters in the next years culminated in 1998 in the unexpected failure of Une chance sur deux/Half a Chance (1998, Patrice Leconte) in which Alain Delon was reunited with Jean Paul Belmondo. Delon announced that he would give up acting. For his impressive film career he received the Legion d'Honneur, the highest French decoration. Delon acquired Swiss citizenship in 1999, and the company managing products sold under his name is based in Geneva. Since the formation of a perfume label in his name, Delon has had a variety of products sold under his name including wristwatches, clothing, eyewear, stationery and cigarettes.

Alain Delon
Spanish postcard by Bergas Ind. Graf., no. 572.

Alain Delon
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Alain Delon
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 2358.

Alain Delon
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Alain Delon
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. S-1809. Photo: Walter Carone.

Alain Delon
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 3453. Photo: Michel Ginfray.

Alain Delon had a son, Ari (1962), from a relationship with German singer/supermodel Nico. The child was raised mostly by Delon's parents. From his first marriage to Nathalie Delon (Nathalie Barthélemy) he has another son, Anthony Delon (1964), who also acted in a number of films. From his second marriage with former Dutch model Rosalie van Breemen he has a son Alain-Fabien (1990) and a daughter Anouchka (1994). Recently Delon returned in the cinema as Julius Cesar in Astérix aux Jeux Olympiques/Asterix at the Olympic Games (2008, Frederic Forestier, Thomas Langmann), and he reunited with former girlfriend Mireille Darc in a stage adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller at the Marigny Theatre in Paris. Alain Delon lives in Geneva, Switzerland with his two youngest children.

Original trailer for Plein Soleil/Purple Noon (1960), costarring Marie Laforet and Maurice Ronet. Source: Annie7676 (YouTube)

Clip from Rocco e i suoi fratelli (1960) with Renato Salvatori and Annie Girardot. Source: Ejicka (YouTube).

Sources: Alain, Wikipedia, Sarah (IMDb), and IMDb.


Terry said...

Howdy Bob
Happy Postcard Friendship Friday to you .
What a fabulous post about an amazing actor and such a fantastic career with more to come.
Thank you so much for sharing all this teriffic information with us .
It is always so nice to come by on Fridays because I know you will have something unique,fun and intresting to share.
Again thank you .
Have a great weekend.
Happy Trails

Sheila said...

So now we know what your header is! Alain Delon I remember very well. So incredibly good looking.

Blogaire said...

Another great post Bob! you have an incredible amount of info - you should publish in book form sometime.

Robin said...

Fabulous.....and what a hunk!
It should be fun to see The Red Circle; all the more so, his earlier work such as the movie your are to see tomorrow. You will come back and let us know all about it, wont you?

Thanks so much for sharing.
I hope your weekend is beautiful.

Debby said...

Another fabulous post, Bob. He sure is good looking.
Thanks for sharing.

Marie Reed said...

Oh La La! How in the world did I miss the film museum in Amsterdam! That's where I went on my honeymoon the first time around! I was glad to learn where your header came from too:)

Bob of Holland said...

Hello you all,

I am still recovering from La Piscine. What a treat!

A summer, a man, a woman, an older man, a young girl and a swimming pool. They all look hot and the temperature is slowly becoming feverish. They don't talk much, but they look, gossip and seduce, till finally someone murders somebody else.

La Piscine is an erotic, high tension thriller. The actors are very good (Alain Delon, Romy Schneider, Maurice Ronet) or at least interesting (Jane Birkin) and they all look, as said, gorgeous. I loved it. This film meant the end of a great summer day for me. Today it's raining in Amsterdam.

See next Postcard Friendship Friday!


Chris Overstreet said...

I have got to track down Plein soleil; Delon looks like a perfect Ripley. Regardless, who wouldn't want to see a film that has so many picture postcards in the trailer! :)

JamaGenie said...

I've only seen the delicious M. Delon in one movie, The Yellow Rolls Royce, but that was enough! As for "Bridges of Madison County", not only have I read the book and seen the movie, but was actually Winterset, Iowa shortly before and shortly after the movie was filmed. I can't imagine it in French, but have *no* problem imagining Alain Delon as the photographer who steals Francesca's heart!

Snap said...

Hi Bob, Nice to "see" you. Always fun to visit and I remember Alain Delon. You do and share so much research on each of these stars. Fabulous! Thanks!!

Bunched Undies said...

A great and in depth post Bob. I saw a few episodes of the Frank Riva series Delon did a few years ago on Eurochannel. He was very good in it, and still charismatic.