Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Jean Gabin Award

Each year in France, between 1981 and 2006, the award for Best Actor of the Year at the Cesars -- aka, The French Oscars -- was called The Jean Gabin Award (Prix Jean Gabin).

Sometimes the award was given for a particular film performance, other times just for an actor who seemed promising.

Here is the complete list of winners of the Prix Jean Gabin.

(In 2007, the award was re-christened as the Prix Patrick Dewaere, after the popular star of France's popular 1977 film, "Get Out Your Handkerchiefs.")

1981 : Thierry Lhermitte
1982 : Gérard Lanvin
1983 : Gérard Darmon
1984 : François Cluzet
1985 : Christophe Malavoy
1986 : Tchéky Karyo
1987 : Jean-Hugues Anglade
1988 : Thierry Frémont
1989 : Vincent Lindon
1990 : Lambert Wilson
1991 : Fabrice Luchini
1992 : Vincent Pérez
1993 : Olivier Martinez
1994 : Manuel Blanc
1995 : Mathieu Kassovitz
1996 : Guillaume Depardieu
1997 : Yvan Attal
1998 : Vincent Elbaz
1999 : Samuel Le Bihan
2000 : Guillaume Canet
2001 : José Garcia
2002 : Benoît Poelvoorde
2003 : Johnny Hallyday pour L'homme du train de Patrice Leconte
2004 : Loránt Deutsch
2005 : Clovis Cornillac
2006 : Jérémie Renier

Jean Gabin Bobble Head Doll!

How do they frighten away tailgaters in Paris?

My guess is, they stick this Jean Gabin Bobble Head Doll by the back window!

All I know about French traffic is what my high school French teacher taught us to say -- "Quelle emboutillage!" ("What a bottleneck!")


Monday, July 28, 2008

Jean Gabin T-Shirts! Jean Gabin Book Bags!

Check this out:

If you're a Jean Gabin Fan, you're going to want to buy my two-volume book WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, as well as all the Gabin DVDs you can get your hands on (a Gabin Video Store has just been added to the website -- www.jeangabinbook.com).

But if you're a Super Gabin Fan, you're definitely going to want Gabin t-shirts... and you might even want to invest in a Gabin book bag!

You can buy Gabin shirts and Gabin bookbags from Comboutique in France, and they'll ship anywhere in the world.

Here's the link:


Turn your inward Gabinness into outward Gabinness, and buy Jean Gabin t-shirts and book bags today!


Saturday, July 26, 2008

World's Coolest Movie Star: The Complete 95 Films (and Legend) of Jean Gabin, Volume One and Volume Two, Now Available From a Bookseller Near You.




Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Another Terrific Jean Gabin Movie Comes to DVD, via the Criterion Collection: Max Ophuls' "Le Plaisir" (1952) Available 9/16!

A few days ago, I reported that Jean Gabin's 1942 movie "Moontide" -- one of only two American films in which he starred during his entire career -- will finally be released on DVD, in the US, on September 2nd.

The news just got better, though, because it was announced today that a second Jean Gabin movie will be making it to U.S. DVD this fall! On the sixteenth of September, the Criterion Collection will be releasing one of Gabin's great 1952 classics, "Le Plaisir" on DVD, in a newly restored version. ("Moontide" has never existed on home video before in any country, in any format; "Le Plaisir" has only been available in the US as an old, murky/washed-out-looking VHS tape.)

"Le Plaisir" is a 'different' kind of movie for Gabin. During this stage in his career, when he was bit older, the actor was typically playing smooth gentleman-gangsters in movies like 1954's "Touchez pas au grisbi." But in "Le Plaisir," he's a simple country farmer.

It's an anthology film featuring three stories, and Gabin appears only in the third and longest story, although all three stories, which are based on the stories of Guy de Maupassant, are good. While Gabin is usually very stoic in his movies, in "Le Plaisir," he's atypically cheerful throughout, and frequently, he's even smiley -- and he does a great job.

"Le Plaisir" represents the only time that Gabin ever thesped under the auspicies of the French, German-born filmmaker Max Ophuls. Ophuls, like Fellini, makes films which celebrate 'the whimsical pageantry of every day life,' kind of like Fellini's movies do; I guess the difference between Ophuls and Fellini, for me, is that Ophuls films are more naturalistic while Fellini's are visually very stylized.

Some other noteworthy Max Ophuls movies besides "Le Plaisir," are 1950's "La Ronde," 1953's "The Earrings of Madame D'," and 1955's "Lola Montez," and each of these titles is worth checking out. In fact, conviently for admirers of classic French cinema, Criterion will be releasing DVDs of "La Ronde" and "Earrings" on 9/16 as well.

So this fall we've got two new Jean Gabin movies being released on DVD in the US, both of them for the very first time: Fox's restoration of "Moontide" hits video stores on September 2nd, and the Criterion Collection's presentation of "Le Plaisir" takes its bow on September 16th. And of course, my two-volume book, WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES ONE AND TWO was released two days ago, on Sunday July 20th. I hope this is the year that Jean Gabin will really conquer America!


Hail Britannia! Lots of Great Places to Buy WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN in the United Kingdom!

Here's a photo of Gabin bumming a light off of the great British actor/director Sir Richard Attenborough (he's on the left), circa 1960.

And speaking of Britain, if you're in the UK and you've been trying to buy a copy of WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUME ONE AND VOLUME TWO, you might be having a bit of trouble making your purchase from British Amazon.com -- aka, Amazon.co.uk.

From time to time (or as the French say, "en ce temps-la") Amazon UK lists the title as being "temporarily out of stock." This is great, because it means that people are ordering it. In fact, the special 'magic trick' when it comes to ordering from Amazon is: If you order a copy of the book from Amazon.co.uk, even though the book is listed as being 'out-of-stock,' Amazon automatically lists it as being "in stock" again!

Anyway -- besides Amazon, there are 9 additional on-line stores in the UK that are selling WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR, and here's the list -- and this list, like everything else in the world, is subject to change:


If you run into any problems ordering the book from Amazon.fr (France) and Amazon.de (Germany), you might want to try the above UK options out, because all European copies of WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR are printed in Great Britain, anyway.


Monday, July 21, 2008

"Get Smart" and "Pepe Le Moko:" The Jean Gabin/Don Adams Connection!

I've always been more of a movie fan than a t.v. fan, and I can count all of the t.v. series' I've ever watched before on three fingers: Recently, I saw every single episode of "The Soprano's," many of which (at least for the first 5 of 7 seasons) were as great as any of Scorsese's big-screen mob movies... When I was a kid in the early '70s, a big event in my house is when all of my relatives would come over for Sunday night dinner, and we'd all follow the meal, at 8:00pm, with the week's episode of "All in the Family;" the best episodes of "All in the Family" have more in common with great theater than they do with t.v. They still "hold up," and they're still great.

The third show I've always venerated is the great 1965 to 1970 spy spoof, "Get Smart," which was co-created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry and which, of course, starred the incredible Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, Control's smart-but-bumbling Agent 86. (I'm not talking about the horrible/unfunny new "Get Smart" movie, from which I fled in terror, after forty-five painful minutes.)

I haven't seen "Get Smart" in decades, so last week, I decided to TiVo a bunch of episodes, since a local L.A. t.v. station is running re-runs of the show four times a day.

Tonight, I feasted my eyes on "Get Smart: Season 2, Episode 21" which was titled "The Man From YENTA," a play on the title of that 'other' '60s spy show --"The Man From UNCLE."

In this episode, the prince of a mythical Arabic country is being terrorized by KAOS' top assassin -- the Algerian contract killer known as "Le Moko." Le Moko is played by an actor called Paul Comi.

That's right: Here's an episode of "Get Smart," originally airing on 2/21/67, which pays direct hommage to Jean Gabin's legendary 1937 thriller, "Pepe Le Moko."

Aside from the fact that I loved seeing the name of Jean Gabin's most famous movie character being co-opted by a (good) t.v. show, it also happened to be an even-funnier-than-usual episode (written by Arne Sultan).

I never thought there would be a Don Adams/Jean Gabin connection, but now there is. (Of course, now that I think of it, Jean Gabin and Don Adams were both decorated World War II heroes: Jean Gabin fought bravely in the Free French Navy, and Don Adams valiantly battled the Japanese at the Battle of Guadalcanal!)

I guess I'm really clutching at straws now, so as Maxwell Smart himself might have said: "Sorry about that, Gabin!"



This posting is pretty brief, but I couldn't resist:

Two of this author's favorite things in the world, in no particular order, are 1.) Jean Gabin and 2.) cookies.

Imagine my surprise when I checked out French eBay today and found that one can actually buy a Jean Gabin cookie jar! Lift off his beret and grab a handful of double-stuff Oreos!

"On n'a jamais assez des cookies!" ("One never has enough cookies!")




Today's UCLA Daily Bruin features a profile of the book by reporter Josh Wasbin. Here's the link:


Jean Gabin and UCLA: World's Coolest Movie Star. World's Coolest University!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


July 20, 2008

Today's the day:

by Charles Zigman.

You should be able to find it not only on Amazon.com, but Barnes and Noble. You can also ask your local bookseller and he or she will be glad to order you a copy.

The website for the book is...

... and that website not only links to this blog, but there's an "international customers" section that links up to 15 additional countries where you can buy this book -- France, Canada, UK<>
Jean Gabin: The Movie Star So Cool, It Takes Two Books to Tell His Story!


Thursday, July 17, 2008


Josephine Baker, the legendary American performer who starred opposite Jean Gabin in a great French film, 1934's "Zou-zou," was honored in her home country yesterday with her very own postage stamp!


New US postage stamps honor early black cinema
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID – 1 day ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — Josephine Baker looks straight at you with bright eyes and shining smile, fearless and demanding attention.
The time is 1935, and the St. Louis native who transfixed France and much of Europe with song and dance stares out from a poster advertising the film "Princess Tam-Tam." Baker starred as a simple African woman presented to Paris society as royalty.

Baker's movie is one of five recalled on a set of U.S. postage stamps being released Wednesday to honor vintage black cinema. Ceremonies marking the sale of the stamps will be held at the Newark Museum in New Jersey, which is holding a black film festival.
"So many things happened in her life that she had never expected," her son Jean-Claude Baker said Tuesday.

"I guess that if she was with us today she would be very honored. At her death she was a French citizen, but she never forgot she was born in America," he said in a telephone interview. "She would be delighted and very moved."
"Despite all the difficulty of colored people in her time, she triumphed over all the adversity that she and her people had to endure," he added.
Another poster, for a 1921 release, provides a taste of the racial divide that sent the young Baker to Europe to pursue her career.

"The Sport of the Gods," the poster proclaims, is based on a book by Paul Laurence Dunbar, "America's greatest race poet," and it adds that the film has "an all-star cast of colored artists."
Other posters in the set of 42-cent stamps are:
_ "Black and Tan," a 19-minute film released in 1929 featuring Duke Ellington and his Cotton Club Orchestra.
_ "Caldonia," another short at 18 minutes, which was released in 1945. It showcased singer, saxophonist and bandleader Louis Jordan.
_ "Hallelujah," a 1929 movie released by MGM. It was one of the first films from a major studio to feature an all-black cast. Producer-director King Vidor was nominated for an Academy Award for his attempt to portray rural African-American life, especially religious experience.
In addition to Jean-Claude Baker and his brother, Jarry, the ceremony was scheduled to include Louis Jordan's widow, Martha Jordan; Paul Ellington, grandson of Duke Ellington; Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker; and Gloria Hopkins Buck, chairwoman of the film festival.

Josephine Baker may be best remembered in the United States for her singing and dancing in Europe, but she also earned military honors as an undercover agent for the French resistance in World War II. Later, she was active in civil rights work and appeared with Martin Luther King Jr. at the March on Washington in 1963.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Happy Bastille Day from JeanGabinBook.com!

Yesterday, July 14th, was Bastille Day -- the French 4th of July.

From Wikipedia:

Bastille Day is the French national holiday, celebrated on 14 July each year. In France, it is called Fête Nationale ("National Celebration") in official parlance, or more commonly quatorze juillet ("14 July"). It commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789; the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern French nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution.

The World's Coolest French Holiday! The World's Coolest French Movie Star! What a "Revolutionary" Combination!
(The pic, above, is Jean Gabin as arch bread-thief Jean Valjean in director Jean-Paul Le Chanois' three-hour Technicolor epic, Les Miserables [1958]. You can find it on Amazon.com.)


When people think about Film Noir, a great group of American movies from the '40s and '50s usually comes to mind -- and so do stars like Richard Widmark; Aldo Ray; Charles McGraw; Dennis O' Keefe, etc.

But the King of French Film Noir was clearly Jean Gabin.

Gabin's pre-World War II French output, in which he plays a tragic drifter, doomed in spite of his actions, is part of a genre called Poetic Realism, which was American Film Noir's immediate predecessor; in fact, Gabin's gangster, Pepe Le Moko, is considered by film historian's to be cinema's very first Film Noir anti-hero. (Other 1930s movies in which tragic drifter Gabin is doomed include Quai des brume, La Bete humaine, and Le Jour se leve.)

But Gabin starred in a lot of great French Film Noir in the 1950s as well, films which were made concomitantly with American Film Noir.

In America, we're familiar with Touchez pas au grisbi, in which smooth gentleman-gangster is screwed over. But he's also in a lot of Film Noir:

Razzis sur la chnouf:

Leur dernier nuit:

Voici le temps des assasins:

Jean Gabin is not only the World's Coolest Movie Star -- he's also the French King of Film Noir.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Jean Gabin made ninety-five movies during a career which spanned forty-six years -- between 1930 and 1976.

93 of his movies were filmed in Europe (France, mostly; a few in Italy), and in these movies, Gabin always spoke his dialogue in his native French.

But during World War II, when the Nazis invaded France, many French film professionals moved to the U.S. in order to continue their film careers -- including Jean Gabin.

Gabin starred in two great movies in America, neither of which have ever been released on American home video. The second of the two films, Universal's Impostor, is an up-to-the minute look at the Free French Army battling in the Belgian Congo (with the San Fernando Valley's Toluca Lake doubling for the Congo)!

Gabin's first American film though, Moontide, is an incredible Film Noir that's credited to director Archie Mayo, but which was also partially directed by Fritz Lang -- and additionally, it features a hypnotic "drunk" sequence that was actually helmed by Salvador Dali.

This film, alone, is really the reason that I first decided to write my book WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN. When I was a kid, family members gushed about how great this movie was -- and when I saw it for myself, I found out why. It's a great Lost American Classic, and one which, without any exaggeration, most definitely belongs in that great pantheon of Great American 1940's films which include Casablanca, Gilda, Grapes of Wrath, etc. Not a big hit in its own time, the vastly entertaining Moontide is a film which really begs to be rediscovered. And now it will:

On September 2, 2008, Moontide comes to DVD, here in the U.S., for the very first time. It's being offered in a beautifully restored version via Fox Video, and it's a must have for any Gabin Fan, or for any Film Noir lover.

The DVD features commentary by the sharp-eyed Film Noir historian Eddie Muller, and apparently, it also contains a newly-discovered original featurette about the film, which was produced in conjunction with with the film's initial 1942 release.

Jean Gabin's co-star in the film is Ida Lupino, and Fox Video will also be issuing a second Lupino thriller, the seminal Noir Roadhouse, in which she co-stars with Richard Widmark, on September 2nd, as well.

You can pre-order Moontide now, from Amazon.com.


... And don't forget to buy my book WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUME ONE and VOLUME TWO (http://www.jeangabinbook.com/).

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Here's Jean Gabin signing an autograph in Santa Monica, California, August 1942.

In other news:
WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN was written about this month on Turner Classic Movies.com:


Friday, July 11, 2008


Why did a young British man named Maurice Micklewhite (Michael Caine) decide to become an actor? In two words: Jean Gabin!

From Daily Variety, July 9, 2008 (Reporter: Tobias Grey):

It was seeing the French actor Jean Gabin up on the big screen in "Le Jour se leve" that convinced a young Maurice Micklewhite, Jr. that he might possibly have a future in film acting. "(Gabin) featured everything that I thought could hold me back: fair hair, a big nose and a small mouth," wrote Michael Caine in his autobiography, "What's It All About?" " He was the biggest star in France, so everything was now possible."

Today, Friday, July 11, 2008, Caine placed his hands and feet in cement at the Grauman's Chinese Theater, in Hollywood. Congratulations to Great Actor and Super Gabin Fan -- Michael Caine!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Jean Gabin: The Five Cycles of His Film Career

When I started watching Jean Gabin's movies, in preparation for writing my two-volume book WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES ONE AND TWO, which will be released on July 20th, I was trying to figure out a good way to organize my information, and I decided that Gabin's movie career actually broke itself down -- and very neatly, I might add -- into five distinct periods, or cycles:

Volume One of my book concerns itself with the first Four of these Five Cycles:

During CYCLE ONE (1930-1933), a young Jean Gabin stars in his first 15 films. Here, he hasn't yet become cinedom's most famous somber/brooding tragic drifter, in fact, many of these (great) films are comedies and musicals, and none of them are known in the English-speaking world at all. Gabin, who was 26 to 29 years of age during this period, had just emerged from Paris's vaudeville stages, where he sang and danced -- and singing and dancing is what he does (and very well, I might add) during some of these movies. These films are all made in France.

CYCLE TWO (1934- 1941) is a cycle of 16 films in which Gabin played his famously-somber, brooding (yet life-loving!) tragic drifter character, and most of the films for which he is known today in the English-speaking world were made during this period. Grand Illusion, Pepe Le Moko, La Bete humaine, Le Jour se leve, Quai des brumes, and La Bas-fonds were all made during this period, and all of these exist in wonderful subtitled editions, mostly available from the Criterion Collection. These films are made in France.

There are only two films in CYCLE THREE (1942-1944): When Hitler invaded France, many of France's best filmmakers and actors moved to the United States where they continued their film careers in American movies, made for the major Hollywood studios. Gabin made two films during this period -- the only American movies he ever made, and the only movies which he ever made in the English language -- and even though these are American movies, they are almost completely unknown today in the United States: In Moontide (20th Century-Fox, 1942), Gabin is a French sailor who washes up in a Southern California port, where friends (Claude Raines) and lovers make his life fun, and a stark-raving psycho (Thomas Mitchell) tries to ruin that fun. Impostor (Universal Pictures, 1944) is an up-to-the-minute World War II tale in which Gabin joins the Free French Army and goes up against the Axis in the Belgian Congo (and the Belgian Congo scenes were shot in Toluca Lake, California)! In his two American films, Gabin continues to play the brooding tragic drifters whom he had played in his famous French films, from 'Cycle Two.'

Volume One of WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR ends with CYCLE FOUR (1946-1953): In 1943, after making his two American films, Jean Gabin returned to France. He spent two years fighting for his country in the Free French Navy (in fact, he was a much-decorated tank commander!), and when the war ended, he made 12 more great movies. This is kind of a transitional period for Jean Gabin: In some of the films, he plays his usual tragic drifter character, and in others, now that he is older, he plays, for the first time, a gentleman-gangster or a businessman. The French public kind of turned on Gabin during this period and didn't come out to see these films, feeling that Gabin had deserted them during the War -- they felt that he was having "fun" in America, while they were dealing with the scourge of Nazism. (Zero of the films made during this period are known in the English-speaking world, and all of them are either French, or else French-Italian co-productions.)


Next, comes Volume Two of my book: The entirety of Volume Two deals with Cycle Five, the final cycle of Jean Gabin's career. During this period (1954-1976), Jean Gabin makes 48 of his 95 films. While he's just as quiet and brooding (and cool) as ever during this period, here, his characters have ventured over to the other side of the social spectrum. Back in the 1930s, he played the ultimate working-class tragic drifter. Now, while he's still quiet, solemn, and brooding, he'll usually play a wealthy magnate, a patriarch, or a smooth criminal gentleman-gangster, who's a kind of proto-Michael Corleone. During this fifth and final Cycle of Jean Gabin's movie career, the French finally "forgave" him, once again making him their country's biggest star, and turning out for all of his movies. Outside of two movies -- 1954's Touchez pas au grisbi (directed by Jacques Becker) and 1955's Moulin-Rouge epic French Cancan (directed by Jean Renoir), none of the movies in which Gabin made during this period are known by the vast majority of English-speaking cineastes.

Hopefully, one of these days, the English-speaking world will know what the rest of the world has already known: Jean Gabin is THE WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR.