10 May 2015

Anouk Aimée

Glamorous French film actressAnouk Aimée (1932) has appeared in 70 films since 1947 and worked with many talented directors. She had major international successes in the 1960s with Lola (1961) and Un homme et une femme/A Man and a Woman (1966) in which she defined a new kind of modern heroine.

Anouk Aimée
French postcard by Editions P.I., no. 484. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Anouk Aimée
Dutch postcard, no. 453. Photo: Cornel Lucas.

Anouk Aimée
German postcard by Film und Bild, Berlin, no. A 1029. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Film. Publicity still for The Man Who Watched Trains Go By (Harold French, 1952).

Anouk Aimée
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 952. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Anouk Aimée
Mexican card, no. 288.

Romeo and Juliet

Anouk Aimée was born Françoise Nicole Sorya Dreyfus in Paris, France, in 1932. She was the daughter of actors Geneviève Sorya (née Durand) and Henri Murray (born Dreyfus). She was trained in acting and dancing at the Bauer-Therond school.

Aimée began her film career in 1946 at the age of 14. Reportedly she was walking down the rue Colisée in the eighth arrondissement in Paris with her mother, when director Henri Calef stopped her and asked if she would like to be in a film. Her film debut was La maison sous la mer/The House by the Sea (Henri Calef, 1947) starring Viviane Romance.

At first she was simply billed as Anouk, taken from the character she played in Marcel Carné’s unfinished film La Fleur de l’âge/The Flower of the Age (1947).

She played Juliette opposite Serge Reggiani as Romeo in Les amants de Vérone/Lovers of Verona (Andre Cayatte, 1949), an updated adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, specifically written for her by the poet Jacques Prevert. Prévert playfully added the symbolic last name, Aimée (Beloved), that would forever associate her with the affective power of her screen roles. Les amants de Vérone was a worldwide success.

She then worked three times with director Alexandre Astruc, at Le Rideau Cramoisi/The Crimson Curtain (1951), Deux Crimes d'Amour/Two Love Crimes (1953) and Les Mauvaises Rencontres/The Bad Liaisons (1955). She appeared in the British espionage drama Contraband Spain (Lawrence Huntington, 1955) opposite Richard Greene, and starred in the ‘perfect crime’ melodrama Tous Peuvent Me Tuer/Everybody Wants To Kill Me (Henri Decoin, 1956).

In 1958 she portrayed the artist Jeanne Hébuterne in Les Amants de Montparnasse/Montparnasse 19 (1958) about the tragic, troubled life of Italian abstract painter Amedeo Modigliani (Gérard Philipe). She made her Hollywood debut as a French Resistance fighter in The Journey (Anatole Litvak, 1959).

Anouk Aimée and Serge Reggiani in Les amants de Vérone (1949)
French collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Les amants de Vérone/The Lovers of Verona (André Cayatte, 1949) with Serge Reggiani.

Anouk Aimée and Serge Reggiani in Les amants de Vérone (1949)
French collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Les amants de Vérone/The Lovers of Verona (André Cayatte, 1949) with Serge Reggiani.

Anouk Aimée and Serge Reggiani in Les amants de Vérone (1949)
French collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Les amants de Vérone/The Lovers of Verona (André Cayatte, 1949) with Serge Reggiani.

Serge Reggiani and Anouk Aimée in Les amants de Vérone (1949)
French collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Les amants de Vérone/The Lovers of Verona (André Cayatte, 1949) with Serge Reggiani.

Musical Without Music

Possessed of an aloof, haunting beauty, Anouk Aimée has given her best performances under the direction of such master directors as Federico Fellini and Jacques Demy. She appeared in two major films by Fellini, as a bored socialite in La dolce vita/The Sweet Life (Federico Fellini, 1960) and as Marcello Mastroianni’s long-suffering wife in 8 ½ (1963).

Aimée had a huge success with Jacques Demy's debut film Lola (1961), a musical ‘without music’ set in the port city of Nantes. Aimée stars as the title character, a cabaret singer awaiting the return of her long-absent lover and the father of her child, who went to America seven years ago and promised to return when he became rich.

Another milestone was her work as the sexually ambivalent queen in the bible epic Sodom and Gomorrah (Robert Aldrich, 1962). Aimee reunited with Jacques Demy for The Model Shop (1969), in which Lola is an older French model living in Los Angeles who poses for photographs to pay the bills.

In between these two films, she played Anne Gauthier in the wildly romantic drama Un homme et une femme/A Man and a Woman (Claude Lelouch, 1966), a widow who falls in love with widower Jean-Louis Trintignant. This role brought her more international fame and awards. She won the 1967 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

She had the chance to establish herself in Hollywood but she refused many roles, including that of Vicki Anderson, the insurance investigator eventually played by Faye Dunaway opposite Steve McQueen in the first The Thomas Crown Affair (Norman Jewison, 1968). She did play the title role in Justine (George Cukor, 1969) with Michael York and in The Appointment (Sidney Lumet, 1969) with Omar Sharif, but her American film career went nowhere.

Anouk Aimée
British postcard by Picturegoer Post Card, London, no. W 826. Photo: J. Arthur Rank Organisation.

Anouk Aimée
French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 702. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Anouk Aimée
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. FK 2195. Photo: Gabriele / Aura / Allianz-Film.

Anouk Aimée
German card by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel. Photo: Aura / Allianz / Gabriele.

Anouk Aimée
German postcard by Filmbilder-Vertrieb Ernst Freihoff, Essen, no. 116. Photo: Allianz Film.

Icon of Cool

After a break of seven years, Anouk Aimée returned to the cinema in Si C'Etait à Refaire/If It Could Be Done Over Again (Claude Lelouch, 1976) with Catherine Deneuve as two former prison buddies who get on with the business of living.

She was awarded the Award for Best Actress at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival for her performance in Marco Bellocchio's Salto nel vuoto/Leap Into The Void (1979), her co-star Michel Piccoli winning the Best Actor Prize. It was followed by roles in La Tragedia di un Uomo Ridicolo/The Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1980) opposite Ugo Tognazzi, and Success is the Best Revenge (Jerzy Skolimowsky, 1984) starring Michael York.

Looking every bit as alluring as she had in 1966, Aimee reprised her most famous role as Anne Gauthier in Un Homme et une Femme: Vingt Ans Déjà/A Man and a Woman: Twenty Years Later (Claude Lelouch, 1986), again opposite Jean-Louis Trintignant.

She also portrayed the worldly-wise designer Simone Lowenthal in Prêt-à-Porter/Ready to Wear (1994), Robert Altman's comedy about the Parisian fashion scene.

Aimée was married four times. From 1949 till 1950 she was married to Edouard Zimmermann. Her second husband (1951–1954) was the film director Nikos Papatakis, with whom she has a daughter Manuela (1951). Her third marriage was to composer Pierre Barouh (1966-1969). From 1970 to 1978, she was married to the British actor Albert Finney.

Aimée is known as a champion of human rights. In 2002 she supported Lionel Jospin's presidential campaign. That year she was awarded a César d'honneur (a honorary César Award), and the following year she received an honorary Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.

As Sandy Flitterman-Lewis writes in the Jewish Women Encyclopedia, Anouk Aimée is still “known for her remarkable presence as an icon of cool, sophisticated beauty in more than seventy films across seven decades. (...) Words like ‘regal,’ ‘intelligent’ and ‘enigmatic’ are frequently associated with her, giving Aimée an aura of disturbing and mysterious beauty that has earned her the status of one of the hundred sexiest stars in film history (in a 1995 poll conducted by Empire Magazine)”.

Now in her seventies, Anouk Aimee is still very active. More recent films in which she appeared, include the comedy Ils se marièrent et eurent beaucoup d'enfants/Happily Ever After (Yvan Attal, 2004) with Charlotte Gainsbourg, the political thriller De Particulier à Particulier/Hotel Harabati (Brice Chauvin, 2006), Celle que j'aime/The One I Love (Elie Chouraqui, 2009), the romance Ces amours-là/These Courtship (Claude Lelouch, 2010) and Paris Connections (Harley Cokeliss, 2010), a glittering adaptation of a Jackie Collins novel produced by American supermarket giant Tesco.

Anouk Aimée lives in the Montmartre section of Paris with her daughter Manuela.

Scene from Les amants de Vérone/Lovers of Verona (1949). Source: Miirdza (YouTube).

French trailer of Lola (1961). Source: Fondation Gan pour le Cinéma (YouTube).

Trailer for 8 1/2 (1963). Source: Soundtracks and Trailers (YouTube_.

Scene from Un homme et une femme/A Man and a Woman (1966). Source: Leony1948 (YouTube).

Trailer of Justine (1969). Source: modcinema (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Volker Boehm (IMDb), Sandy Flitterman-Lewis (Jewish Women Encyclopedia), AlloCiné (French), Wikipedia, and IMDb.


Bunched Undies said...

Beautiful lady. She was great in Jaglom's "Festival in Cannes" as well.

Tete said...

Beautiful actress and wonderful postcards of her. Great post with so much informantion. Happy PFF!
Hugs- Tete

Snap said...

Anouk Aimee ... I saw this name and thought ... "I know her"!!!! Beautiful woman and I don't remember if it was the movie with Michael York or the one with Omar Sharif that I remember. Another wonderful post. Happy PFF!

viridian said...

wow now this actress I know! And more movies to add to my list! And great postcards - you have such a full collection.
Happy PFF.

Joy said...

Fascinating history of a career, she seems to have worked with everyone. I love how she got her name.

Terry said...

Happy PFF to you .
Fabulous post for a true beauty .
She is a woman with that rare qualtiy of being comfortable in her own skin which shines from the inside out .
Thank you for a very entertaining post to start our weekend.
Until next time
Happy Trails

Aimee said...

I really enjoyed this post. What a wonderful name she had! :)

I always get excited when I find someone who's name is spelled like mine. Its not too prevalent in the U.S. My mom said she just liked the French spelling better and she chose it because it meant "beloved".

Aimee was a beautiful actress. I enjoyed learning about her.

jarmaine | standard postcard size said...

Hi! Came across this post and am I glad I did! Great feature, she's really beautiful and such an accomplished star too. Loved the postcards as well. That's a great collection :) Thanks!