02 August 2017

Jean-Claude Bouillon (1941-2017)

Monday 31 July 2017 was a black day for the French cinema. Not only Jeanne Moreau but also French actor Jean-Claude Bouillon passed away. He appeared in more than eighty films from 1966 until 2015. In France, Bouillon (1941-2017) was best known is best known for his role as Commissioner Valentin in the TV series Les Brigades du Tigre/The Tiger Brigade (1974-1983), but he also appeared in several films and on stage. He was 75.

Jean-Claude Bouillon (1941-2017)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin postcard.

Made in USA

Jean Claude André Bouillon was born in 1941 in Épinay-sur-Seine, France. He made his acting debut at the Théâtre national populaire (TNP) in 1966 in Armand Gatti's Chant public devant deux chaises électriques (Public chant in front of two electric chairs) on the Sacco and Vanzetti affair.

His first film appearance was as an inspector in Jean-Luc Godard's Made in USA (1966) with Anna Karina. He then played leading roles in several films: Le Dernier Homme/The Last Man (Charles Bitsch, 1968), Tout peut arriver/Don't Be Blue (1969) - the first film by Philippe Labro, Le Champignon/The Killer Strikes at Dawn (Marc Simenon, 1969) as the husband of Mylène Demongeot, and Hellé (Roger Vadim, 1972).

Perhaps his most interesting film of this period was the crime drama Un aller simple/One Way Ticket (José Giovanni, 1971). A failure was the erotic film Es war nicht die Nachtigall/Julia: Innocence Once Removed (Sigi Rothemund, 1974) in which he co-starred with Sylvia Kristel.

Later he played supporting parts in films like the thriller La raison d'état/State Reasons (André Cayatte, 1978) with Jean Yanne and Monica Vitti, the French-Italian drama L'Enfant de nuit/Child of the Night (Sergio Gobbi, 1978) with Agostina Belli, and the war film La légion saute sur Kolwezi/Operation Leopard (Raoul Coutard, 1978), filmed in French Guiana.

Bouillon has devoted most of his career to television in more than 40 television productions, TV movies and series. Very popular was his role as Commissioner Valentin, a seducer with a fine moustache, in the TV series Les Brigades du Tigre/The Tiger Brigades (1974-1983). The series was situated before the First World War when in France the first motorised police group was organised. They were called 'The Tiger Brigades', after Prime Minister George Clemenceau's surname: The Tiger.

His other TV roles included the photographer Christophe Bardol in the mini-series Les Roses de Dublin/The Roses of Dublin (1981), and Dimitri in the series Les Aventures du jeune Patrick Pacard/The Adventures of the young Patrick Pacard (1984).

Jean-Claude Bouillon (1941-2017)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin postcard, no. 589.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Jean-Claude Bouillon’s best known film is The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Philip Kaufman, 1988), based on the novel by Milan Kundera. The film starred Daniel Day Lewis and Juliette Binoche, and Bouillon only played a minor part.

On stage he played major roles in more than 27 productions, including Gone with the Wind (1983), La Double Inconstance (1988) by Marivaux, Huis clos (1991) by Jean-Paul Sartre, Les Mufles by Sacha Guitry, South (1994) by Julien Green, The Seagull (1998) by Anton Chekov, and L'Intrus (2011) by Antoine Rault.

He played several supporting parts in popular films, such as in the romantic comedy Arlette (Claude Zidi, 1997) featuring Josiane Balasko, the comedy Un grand cri d'amour/A great cry of love (Josiane Balasko, 1998) starring Balasko and Richard Berry, and the thriller Le Serpent/The Serpent (Éric Barbier, 2006) with Yvan Attal.

One of his best known roles remained Serge Létan, the lover of Claude Jade, in the TV soap opera Cap des Pins (1998-2000). Another success was the series Sous le soleil/Under the Sun (2003-2007). Bouillon also appeared in foreign TV productions such as The Hitchhiker, where he played Victor, the aggressive husband of Claude Jade, in the episode Windows (1990).

In the cinema he was last seen in the comedy Coups de soleil (Stéphane Kowalczyk, 2011) and the short film Irrésistible/Irresistible (Gioacchino Campanella, 2013).

Jean-Claude Bouillon died on 31 July 2017 of cancer in Marseilles, where he had lived for several years with his wife, Ghislaine Valence, whom he had married in 1987. He had two children: Alexandre (born in 1970) and Bérénice (1981).

Jean Claude Bouillon's character has a bad trip in an unknown French film of the 1970s. Source: Jhalal Drut (YouTube).

Sources: Le Figaro (French), Wikipedia (French and English) and IMDb.

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