Tuesday, July 15, 2008
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.