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03 July 2015

Alain Delon

A highlight at Il Cinema Ritrovato 2015 is the open-air screening tonight of Rocco e i suoi fratelli/Rocco and His Brothers (Luchino Visconti, 1960) in a magical black and white, thanks to a new restoration. Today's post is about Alain Delon (1935), the actor who played Rocco in this landmark Italian film. Delon was the breathtakingly good-looking James Dean of the European cinema of the late 1950s and early 1960s who proved in this film that he was also a magnificent actor.

Alain Delon
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, 1967. retail price: 0,20 MDN.Photo: publicity still for Rocco e i suoi fratelli/Rocco and his brothers (Luchino Visconti, 1960).

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

Alain Delon
German postcard by Krüger. Photo: Ufa.

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

Happy birthday, Alain Delon!
French postcard by St. Anne, Marseille. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Alain Delon
Spanish postcard, no. 161. Photo: Philippe R. Doumic.

Alain Delon
Spanish postcard by Bergas Ind. Graf., Barcelona, no. 463, 1967.

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 Paul Boulogne's butcher shop. Three years later, the 17-year-old enlisted in the French Marines, serving in 1953-1954 in Indochina as a parachutist. In 1956, after being dishonourably discharged from the military, he returned to France. He had little money and 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. He made his film debut in Quand la femmes s'en mele/Send a Woman When the Devil Fails (Yves Allégret, 1957).

In 1958, during the making of the love story Christine (Pierre Gaspard-Huit, 1959), Delon 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 (René Clément, 1960), 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. The critics liked his performance. According to Wikipedia, Patricia Highsmith herself was also a fan of his portrayal.

Alain Delon
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne Eickel, no. 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.

Alain Delon
Belgian postcard by D.R.C, licency holder for Belgium and Belgian Congo of Universum Film Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. 4615. Photo: Sam Lévin / Ufa.

Alain Delon
Dutch postcard by Muziekparade, Hilversum, no. AX 4701. Photo: Hafbo / 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 (Pierre Gaspard-Huit, 1958).

The Eclipse


Luchino Visconti offered Alain Delon a totally different role in Rocco e i suoi fratelli/Rocco and His Brothers (Luchino Visconti, 1960). In this film, he plays the devoted Sicilian immigrant Rocco, who accepts the greatest sacrifices to save his characterless brother Simone, played by Renato Salvatori. Delon received international recognition for this role.

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, was directed by Luchino Visconti. The production cost a reported 60 million francs and broke box office records. It ran for more than 8 months.

Delon also gave tremendous performances in L'Eclisse/The Eclipse (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962) opposite Monica Vitti, and the epic Il Gattopardo/The Leopard (Luchino Visconti, 1963) 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 (Henri Verneuil, 1963), 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.

Alain Delon
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam, no. 1383. Photo: Unifrance Film / Ufa.

Alain Delon
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. FK 44. Photo: Unifrance / Ufa.

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.

Alain Delon
French postcard by Editions P.I., no. 1151A, offered by Les Carbones Korès 'Carboplane.

Happy birthday, Alain Delon!
French postcard by Editions P.I., no. 1161, offered by Les Carbones Korès 'Carboplane. Photo: Pierre Manciet.

A bid for American stardom


By now Hollywood studios were very interested in Alain Delon and he decided to make a bid for American stardom. In 1965, MGM signed him to a five picture contract. The first movie of this deal was Les Félins/Joy House (René Clément, 1964), shot in France with Jane Fonda. He followed it up with two more films for the studio: the all-star The Yellow Rolls Royce (Anthony Asquith, 1965), in which Delon had a relatively small role, and Once a Thief (Ralph Nelson, 1965), where he co-starred with Ann-Margret.

Delon then signed a three picture deal with Columbia. He appeared for this studio in the big budget action film Lost Command (Mark Robson, 1966) with Anthony Quinn. Universal Studios used Delon in the Western Texas Across the River (Michael Gordon, 1966), opposite Dean Martin.

For Seven Arts, Delon starred in Paris brûle-t-il?/Is Paris Burning? (René Clément, 1966) about the liberation of Paris in August 1944 by the French Resistance and the Free French Forces. This was a massive hit in France but it performed disappointingly at the US box office - as did all of Delon's Hollywood financed films. So after six Hollywood movies Delon returned to France.

In the late sixties, 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 (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967), 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, Alain Delon had a huge success in the bloodstained Borsalino (Jacques Deray, 1970). He and Jean-Paul Belmondo played small-time gangsters who become kings of the Marseilles underworld of the 1930s. 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 and Romy Schneider in Christine
Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht. Photo: NV Meteor Film. Publicity still for Christine/Liebelei (Pierre Gaspard-Huit, 1958) with Romy Schneider.

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. 902/95. Photo Sam Lévin. Another sexy publicity photo for Amours célèbres (Michel Boisrond, 1961) with Brigitte Bardot.

Monica Vitti and Alain Delon in L'eclisse, 1962
Small Romanian collectors card by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for L'eclisse/The Eclypse (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962) with Monica Vitti.

Alain Delon and Shirley MacLaine in The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 313. Photo: publicity still for The Yellow Rolls-Royce (Anthony Asquith, 1964) with Shirley MacLaine.

Nathalie and Alain Delon in Le Samouraï
Small Romanian collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Le Samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967) with Nathalie Delon.

Catherine Deneuve and Alain Delon in Le choc (1982)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Le choc/Shock (Robin Davis, 1982) with Catherine Deneuve.

Roles Against Type


In later years Alain Delon won critical acclaim for roles against type. In the Kafkaesk thriller Mr Klein (Joseph Losey, 1976) 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 (Bertrand Blier, 1984). Another acclaimed role was the homosexual Baron de Charlus in the fine Marcel Proust adaptation Un amour de Swann/Swann in Love (Volker Schlöndorf, 1984).

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 (Patrice Leconte, 1998) 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.

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

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

Alain Delon
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Alain Delon
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Happy birthday, Alain Delon!
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Alain Delon
French postcard by Editions F. Nugeron, no. Star 28.

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

Astérix


Alain Delon returned in the cinema as Julius Cesar in Astérix aux Jeux Olympiques/Asterix at the Olympic Games (Frederic Forestier, Thomas Langmann, 2008), 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 has a son, Christian Aaron Boulogne 'Ari' Päffgen (1962), from a relationship with German singer/supermodel Nico. The child was raised mostly by Delon's mother and stepfather. He broke the relationship with his mother after she insisted on taking care of Ari. They spoke again when his step-father died in 1988, the same year Nico died.

From his first marriage to Nathalie Delon (Nathalie Barthélemy) he has another son, Anthony Delon (1964), who also acted in a number of films. Then he was a longtime companion of actress Mireille Darc from 1968 to 1982. Then he had a relationship with Anne Parillaud. From his second marriage with former Dutch model Rosalie van Breemen he has a son Alain-Fabien (1990) and a daughter Anouchka (1994). Rosalie was 21 when she met Alain who was 52. They lived together from 1987 till 2001.

Today, Alain Delon lives in Geneva, Switzerland. He 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.

His most recent film appearance was in the Russian comedy S Novym godom, mamy!/Happy New Year, Mommies! (Artyom Aksyonenko, Sarik Andreasyan, Anton Bormatov, Dmitriy Grachev, Klim Poplavskiy, 2012).


Trailer Rocco e i suoi fratelli/Rocco and his Brothers (1960). Source: Filmmuseum Amsterdam (YouTube).


Trailer for Mélodie en sous-sol/The Big Snatch (1963). Source: Curtis Hayden (YouTube).


Trailer Le Samouraï/The Godson (1967). Source: Edwin Nieves (YouTube).


Trailer La Piscine/The Pool (1968). Source: Filmmuseum Amsterdam (YouTube).

Sources: Alain Delon.ch, Wikipedia, Sarah (IMDb), Il Cinema Ritrovato and IMDb.

11 comments:

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.
debby

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!

Bob

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.