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11 December 2012

Marie-José Nat

French actress Marie-José Nat (1940) is an acclaimed stage, film and television star. She played glamorous, exotic roles in many films of the 1960's and 1970's.

Marie-José Nat
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 1052. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Marie-José Nat
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 219, presented by Corvisart, Epinal. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

Marie-José Nat
French postcard by Editions E.D.U.G., Paris, no. 245. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

Marie-José Nat
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 372. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Anatomy of a Marriage
Marie-José Nat was born Mary-José Benhalassa in Bonifacio, Corsica, in 1940. In 1955 she won a photo contest to appear in a photo romance in the magazine Femmes d'aujourd'hui. She started to work as a cover girl and mannequin and had acting lessons at le cours Simon in Paris. The following year, she made her film debut in the short Soir de réveillon/Evening's Eve (1956, Gilles Margaritis) opposite Sami Frey. Later that year she appeared in her first feature film, the Fyodor Dostoevsky adaptation Crime et châtiment/Crime and Punishment (1956, Georges Lampin) starring Jean Gabin. She followed it up with such notable films as Rue des prairies/Rue de Paris (1959, Denys de La Patellière) as Jean Gabin’s daughter, La Verité/The Truth (1960, Henri-Georges Clouzot) as the studious sister of pretty and idle Brigitte Bardot, and La Vie Conjugale/Anatomy of a Marriage (1963, André Cayatte). In this domestic drama a married couple (Nat and Jacques Charrier) presents in two separate films their separate views on the state of their marriage. The films are titled Jean-Marc ou La vie conjugale/My Days with Jean-Marc and Françoise ou La vie conjugale/My Nights with Francoise.

Marie-José Nat
French postcard by Editions Borde, Paris, no. 187. Photo: Marel.

Marie-José Nat
French postcard by St. Anne, Marseille. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Marie-José Nat
French postcard. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Golden Palm
Writer-director Michel Drach contacted Marie-José Nat to play in his film Amélie ou le temps d'aimer/Amelie or The Time to Love (1961). The two fell in love, and they married in 1964. DB du Monteil writes at IMDb: "Michel Drach's second effort after a good start with On N'Enterre Pas Le Dimanche,and his first movie starring his then-wife Marie-José Nat. Today, Michel Drach has sunk into oblivion, because of an uneven career, his convincing works (AmélieM, Elise Ou La Vraie Vie, Les Violons Du Bal)are forever juxtaposed with his worst (Guy De Maupassant). One should also note that most of his best features Marie-José Nat who was to him what Stephane Audran was to Claude Chabrol: the actress's sensitivity was in perfect harmony with Drach's directing." Mari Their other films were Elise ou la Vraie Vie/Elise, or Real Life (1970, Michel Drach) with Bernadette Lafont, Les violons du bal/Violins At The Ball (1974, Michel Drach) with Jean-Louis Trintignant, and Passé simple/Replay (1977, Michel Drach). Les violons du bal concerns Michel Drach’s childhood experiences during the Second World War. For her role Marie-José Nat was awarded Best Actress at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival, and the film was nominated for the Golden Palm award.

Marie José Nat
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 3009, 1967. Retail Price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Steffen.

Marie-José Nat
East-German postcard by Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2.348. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Unifrance Film.

Jacques Charrier, Marie-José Nat
East-German postcard by Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2.625. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Progress. Still from La Vie Conjugale/Anatomy of a Marriage (1963).

Marie-José Nat
East-German postcard by VEB Progress-Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 2514. Retail price: 0,20 MDN. Photo: Progress. Backside mentions Marie-José Nat as known from the film Wiesenstrasse 10 (1959, Denys de la Patellière).

New Amant
In 1977, during the shooting of Passé simple, Marie-José Nat met actor Victor Lanoux. He became her new amant. With Lanoux she would often work together in the theatre, and later also on television. Among her later films were the thriller La nuit du destin/Night of Destiny (1997, Abdelkrim Bahloul), the war comedy Train de vie/Train of Life (1998, Radu Mihaileanu) and the romantic drama Le cadeau d'Elena/Elena’s Gift (2004, Frédéric Graziani) with Michel Duchaussoy. Nat married four times: first to actor Roger Dumas (1960-1961), then to Michel Drach (1964-1981), subseqently to Victor Lanoux, and since 2005, she is married to painter-author Serge Rezvani. With Drach she has three children, director David Drach, actor Julien Drach and actor Aurelien Drach. In 2006 Marie-José Nat published a memoir Je n'ai pas oublié/I didn’t forget. Currently she divides her time between Paris and Bonifacio, her birthtown in Corsica. As the most prominent resident, she is known in Bonifacio as the ‘queen of the town.’


Scene from Litan (1982, Jean-Pierre Mocky), with Jean-Pierre Mocky and Marie-José Nat. Source: bolingbroke70 (YouTube).


Commercial for Lux. Source: Querelle 59 (YouTube).


Trailer for Train de vie/Train of Life (1998). Source: TurkishMoviefostvr (YouTube).

Sources: Ciné-Ressources (French), AllMovie, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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