16 February 2013

Nicole Courcel

French actress Nicole Courcel (1931) appeared in 43 films between 1947 and 1979. Though she is mostly unknown outside of France, she graced the screen with a number of sensitive performances through the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Nicole Courcel
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 809, 1960.

Nicole Courcel
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, no. 808, 1958. Retail price: 0,20 DM.

Nicole Courcel
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 58A. Offered by Les carbones Korès Carboplane. P.I. was the French licency holder for the UFA. Photo: Unifrance-Film / UFA.

Youth Culture
Nicole Courcel was born Nicole Marie-Anne Andrieux in Saint-Cloud, a western suburb of Paris, in 1931. Her father was a French journalist and her mother came from Monaco. Nicole studied acting at the Cours Simon and served as an extra in a few films. At 18, she won a major role in Rendez-vous de juillet/Appointment with Life (1949, Jacques Becker), opposite Daniel Gélin and Brigitte Auber. Rendez-vous de juillet has been credited as the first post-war European film to accurately depict the ‘youth culture’. The teenagers in the film shuttle between theatre classes, jazz bars and coffee houses and seem rather ill-equipped for ‘real life’. The film won the critics' award at the Cannes Film Festival. Courcel then worked with neorealist writer-director Marcello Pagliero at the drama Les Amants de Brasmart/The Lovers of Brasmart (1950) in which she played the girl of Franck Villard. The following years, she had notable parts in such productions as the romantic drama La Marie du port/Marie of the Port (1950, Marcel Carné) opposite Jean Gabin, Sacha Guitry's historical spectacle Si Versailles M'Etait Conté/Royal Affairs in Versailles (1954), the Jean-Paul Sartre drama Huis clos/No Exit (1954, Jacqueline Audry) with Arletty, and La Sorcière/The Sorceror (1956, André Michel) starring Marina Vlady. She was also in the popular success Papa, Maman, la Bonne et Moi/ Papa, Mama the Maid and I (1954, Jean-Paul Le Chanois) with Robert Lamoureux.

Nicole Courcel
French postcard by O.P., Paris, no. 93. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.

Nicole Courcel
French postcard by Editions du Globe, no. 151. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Nicole Courcel
French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 99. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Compassionate But Possessive and Jealous
Nicole Courcel is best known for her role in Les Dimanches de Ville d'Avray/Sundays and Cybele (1962, Serge Bourguignon). Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Her most widely circulated film was also one of the most hauntingly beautiful French productions of the 1960’s. In René Clement's Sundays and Cybele, Nicole Courcel played Madeleine, the compassionate but possessive and jealous nurse of mental patient Hardy Kruger.” Based on a novel by Bernard Eschasseriaux, the exquisitely photographed Les Dimanches de Ville d'Avray won the 1962 Best Foreign Film Academy Award. In the following decades she was seen in the cast of films as the psychological thriller The Night of the Generals (1967, Anatole Litvak) starring Peter O’Toole, and the coming-of-age comedy La Gifle/The Slap (1974, Claude Pinoteau) with Lino Ventura and Isabelle Adjani. Later in life, she turned to television appearing in different TV films, including Credo (1983, Jacques Deray) with Jean-Louis Trintignant, and miniseries as Les Thibault (2003) with Jean Yanne. Her final screen appearance was in the Alexandre Dumas adaptation Milady (2004, Josée Dayan) featuring Arielle Dombasle.

Nicole Courcel
Yugoslavian postcard by Studio Sombor.

Nicole Courcel
French postcard by Imp. de Marchi Frères, Marseille.

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.


Bunched Undies said...

In some pictures she resembles Ingrid Bergman, in some Ann Margaret. I can't think of better people to look like :)

Bob of Holland said...

She is wonderful. Yesterday I resaw Basic Instinct with my son, and Nicole Courcel also reminds me of Sharon Stone. Basic Instinct is an underrated masterpiece. Only some of the cars in it have dated. And Stone's so sweet and at the the same time so devilishy tempting. She deserved an award for that part.