23 May 2014

Claude Jade

French actress Claude Jade (1948–2006) is best remembered Christine in François Truffaut's films Baisers volés/Stolen Kisses (1968), Domicile Conjugal/Bed and Board (1970) and L'amour en fuite/Love on the Run (1979). Outside of France she played in films in the Soviet Union, the United States, Italy and Japan.

Claude Jade
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

New Wave

Claude Jade was born as Claude Marcelle Jorré in Dijon, France in 1948. She was the daughter of university professors.

Jade spent three years at Dijon's Conservatory of Dramatic Art, where in 1964 she won a best actress prize for her portrayal of Agnès in Molière's L'école des femmes (School of Wives).

In 1966 she won the Prix de Comédie for Jean Giraudoux's stage play Ondine, performed at the Comédie Boulogne. She moved to Paris and became a student of Jean-Laurent Cochet at the Edouard VII theatre, in a class with Gérard Depardieu.

She also began acting in television productions, including a leading role in the TV series Les oiseaux rares. While performing as Frida in Luigi Pirandello's Henri IV (Henry IV) at the Théâtre Moderne, Jade was discovered by Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) film director François Truffaut.

Truffaut cast her in the role of violin student Christine Darbon in Baisers volés/Stolen Kisses (1968). It continues the story of the character Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), whom Truffaut had previously depicted in Les 400 Coups/The 400 Blows and the short film Antoine et Colette/Antoine and Colette.

During the filming, Jade and Truffaut were engaged at one point. According to Ronald Bergan in The Guardian “Truffaut's love for his young discovery illuminated her scenes”.

Baisers volés was nominated for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and put Jade in the international spotlight for her strong performance. As Christine she teaches Antoine the best way to butter toast in the morning, and there are many more memorable scenes.

Playing the same character, Jade appeared in two more films by Truffaut, Domicile Conjugal/Bed and Board (1970), and L'amour en fuite/Love on the Run (1979). Truffaut uses the occasion to examine three states, three ages, of his heroine, played with the right middle-class gentility and innocence by Claude Jade: loved from a distance (Stolen Kisses), married and misled (Bed & Board), divorced but still on good terms (Love on the Run).

Recommended by Truffaut, Jade starred in Alfred Hitchcock's espionage thriller Topaz (1969). She played Michèle Picard, a secret agent's anxious daughter, married to a reporter (Michel Subor). Jade was 19 years old when cast, with Frederick Stafford as her father and Dany Robin playing her mother. Some of her scenes were deleted and restored for the director's cut of Topaz in 1999.
Topaz was Jade's only Hollywood film. Universal Pictures offered her a seven-year contract, which she turned down reportedly because she preferred to work in French.

Claude Jade in Domicile conjugal (1970)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 174/71, 1971. Photo: Linke. Publicity still for Domicile conjugal/Bed & Board (François Truffaut, 1970).

Italian Films

Claude Jade was to have starred as Romola, Vaslav Nijinsky's wife in Nijinsky (Tony Richardson, 1970), alongside Rudolf Nureyev as Nijinsky and Paul Scofield as his lover Sergei Diaghilev The film, based on a screenplay by Edward Albee, was cancelled during pre-production by producer Harry Saltzman.

She did star in the historical film Mon oncle Benjamin/My Uncle Benjamin (Édouard Molinaro, 1969) alongside Jacques Brel as his fiancée Manette, who refuses his advances until he produces a marriage contract.

She also had a leading role as Linda in a modern The Count of Monte Cristo-adaptation, Sous le signe de Monte Cristo/Under the Sign of Montecristo (André Hunebelle, 1968).

Her career continued in Belgium, where she played a young English teacher who is fatally intrigued by a murderer (Gérard Barray) in the film Le Témoin/The Witness (Anne Walter, 1969). That year she also starred in a television adaptation of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (Jean-Christophe Averty, 1969).

In the early 1970s, Jade starred in films like Le bateau sur l'herbe/The Boat on the Grass (Gérard Brach, 1971), as Eleonore, a young girl between two friends (Jean-Pierre Cassel, John McEnery), and Les feux de la chandeleur/Hearth Fires (Serge Korber, 1972) as Laura, a daughter who wants to reconcile her parents (Annie Girardot, Jean Rochefort) and who falls in love with her mother's best friend (Bernard Fresson).

Alongside to Robert Hossein she played the priest's love Françoise in Prêtres interdits/Forbidden Priests (Denys de La Patellière, 1973). In Home Sweet Home (Benoît Lamy, 1973), she played a hardened nurse who is changed by a love affair with a social worker (Jacques Perrin). She played a dual role in Le choix/The Choice (Jacques Faber, 1976).

Jade starred in three Italian films: as a private investigator in Number One (Gianni Buffardi, 1973), as Tiffany, the girlfriend of a private eye (Frederick Stafford) in La ragazza di via Condotti/Special Killers (German Lorente, 1973), and as Maria Teresa, an unhappily married woman in Una spirale di nebbia/A Spiral of Mist (Eriprando Visconti, 1977).

She played a nun in Kita No Misaki/Cap du Nord (1976), by Japanese director Kei Kumai. In the romantic comedy Le pion/The Pawn (Christian Gion, 1978), she starred as a young widow who wins the heart of her son's teacher.

She also worked regularly for French TV. In 1970 she starred as Orphan Françoise in the mini-series Mauregard, directed by Truffaut's co-writer Claude de Givray. On TV she gained great popularity as the heroine of mini-series The Island of Thirty Coffins (Marcel Cravenne, 1979).

Trailer for Baisers volés/Stolen Kisses (1968). Source: someoneweird92 (YouTube).

Three Years in Moscow

In the 1980s Claude Jade moved to Moscow for three years with her husband, diplomat Bernard Coste, and their son Pierre Coste (1976).

She starred in two Soviet films. In Teheran 43 (Aleksandr Alov, Vladimir Naumov, 1981) she played a mysterious terrorist, with Alain Delon and an international cast. For Lenin in Paris (Sergei Yutkevich, 1981), she played the French Bolshevik Inessa Armand, although it was not possible to show her rumoured love affair with Vladimir Lenin.

Among her other films in the 1980s were Le Bahut va craquer/Schools Falling Apart (Michel Nerval, 1981), L'honneur d'un capitaine/A Captain's Honour (Pierre Schoendoerffer, 1982), Rendezvous in Paris (Gabi Kubach, 1982) and L'homme qui n'était pas là/The Man Who Wasn't There (René Féret, 1987).

During the 1990s Jade worked mainly for television. From 1998 to 2000 she was the lead actress in the series Cap des Pins (Tide of Life). Her last U.S. acting part was a guest appearance in an episode of the TV series The Hitchhiker (1990).

Jade's film roles in this decade include a mother betrayed by her husband, in Tableau d'honneur/Honor Roll (Charles Nemes, 1992), and shy lesbian Caroline in Bonsoir (Jean-Pierre Mocky, 1994). In order to save her inheritance, Caroline tells her aunt that her lover Gloria (Corinne Le Poulain) is her secretary and Alex (Michel Serrault) her lover.

In 1998, she played a governor's wife, Reine Schmaltz, who saves herself on a lifeboat in the historical movie Le Radeau de la Méduse/The Raft of the Medusa (Iradj Azimi, 1998). That year she was named a chevalier de la légion d'honneur (knight in the Legion of honour) for her contributions to French culture.

In her last decade, Jade's work included TV films and shorts. On stage she was a member of Jean Meyer's theatre company in Lyon, appearing in plays by Jean Giraudoux, James Joyce, Racine and Balzac.

In 2004, Jade published her autobiography, Baisers envolés (Flying kisses).

Her last stage role was as Célimène in Jacques Rampal's Célimène et le cardinal (Celimene and the Cardinal, 2006), a play in alexandrines, based on Molière's characters from Le Misanthrope. Suffering cancer of the liver, which had spread, she wore a plastic eye for her performances. In December 2006, Claude Jade died in Boulogne-Billancourt, France. She was 58.

Trailer Topaz (1969). Source: Retro TV (Youtube).

Sources: Ronald Bergan (The Guardian), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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