Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Jean Gabin Almost Played Don Vito Corleone in "The Godfather"

Here's a "new" revelation about Jean Gabin that I just learned about, courtesy of Professor Philp Horne's new article in the London Daily Telegraph:

I already knew, from watching the documentary featurettes which appear on the recent Blu-Ray release of The Godfather, that Francis Ford Coppola wanted Marlon Brando to play Don Vito Corleone, and that Paramount was constantly fighting him on the idea, and suggesting other actors. I didn't know, however, that Jean Gabin was on the movie studio's short list to play movie history's greatest mafioso patriarch.

Of course, it makes sense: During this period of his career, Jean Gabin had made a habit of playing level-headed, white-haired crime family patriarchs. In 1969's crackerjack suspense thriller The Sicilian Clan, directed by Henri Verneuil, Gabin even played a Mafia Don -- Don Vittorio Manalese.

Here is Professor Horne's illuminating new article about The Godfather, featuring a mention of Jean Gabin.

Just like the film, the making of 'The Godfather’ was an ugly story of fear and dysfunction.
By Philip Horne
London Daily Telegraph, September 22, 2009

"What was the formula that made The Godfather one of the most successful films of all time? Surely it would take an unusually harmonious combination of talents working in concert, a rare balance of commercial entertainment and artistic challenge, a run of luck those involved couldn’t miss.

"The Godfather... was nominated for 11 Oscars, winning three, and on its $6 million budget, [it] grossed $101 million for Paramount within 18 weeks on release.

"'It was the most miserable film I can think of to make,' declares its producer, Al Ruddy. “Nobody enjoyed one day of it.” Coppola agrees: 'It was just non-stop anxiety and wondering when I was going to get fired.' The novel by Mario Puzo could easily not have been written: eight publishers passed on the outline for a would-be best-seller pitched by a middle-ranking, mid-forties writer with a bad gambling habit and big debts. Only bumping into a friend had led to his actually writing The Godfather. Its 67 weeks topping the New York Times best-seller list surprised everyone.

"Paramount bought an option when Puzo had only written 100 pages, for a mere $12,500, rising to $50,000 if the novel was filmed. But maybe – if we’re to credit Paramount’s head of production Robert Evans – Paramount very nearly didn’t acquire it. There was a bidding war: they were 'one day away from Burt Lancaster buying The Godfather, and Burt wanted to play the Don.'

"Coppola was no one’s first choice. A pack of others were considered: Arthur Penn, Peter Yates, Costa-Gavras, Otto Preminger, Richard Brooks, Elia Kazan, Fred Zinnemann, Franklin J Schaffner, Richard Lester… All said no. Finally, Evans decided Mafia movies hadn’t worked because, 'they were usually written by Jews, directed by Jews and acted by Jews' – and the only Italian-American director with any track record was the up-and-coming Coppola. He almost said no, too, thinking Puzo’s opus 'a popular, sensational novel, pretty cheap stuff.'

"But Coppola relented, partly because his company American Zoetrope was broke. Once aboard, he saw in this blockbuster the profound story of 'a king, almost Greek – a king with three sons.' Puzo liked him. Henceforth, though, everything was a fight. The studio wanted to keep costs down by setting the film in present-day Kansas City; Coppola refused, demanding and getting a $5 million budget. He demanded an 80 day shooting schedule; Paramount gave him only 53.

"Then there was the question of who would play Don Vito Corleone? Paramount had sounded out Anthony Quinn; but also on their list were Laurence Olivier – who was ill – George C Scott, Jean Gabin, Vittorio De Sica, John Huston, Paul Scofield, Victor Mature… Coppola wanted Marlon Brando, whose name was then dirt with the studios due to unreliability and a string of flops. Paramount president Stan Jaffe declared, 'Marlon Brando will never appear in this picture,' even forbidding further discussion. But Coppola pleaded to the bosses that Brando was the greatest living screen actor, and finally, extravagantly, collapsed on the carpet before their eyes. They thought he’d had a heart attack brought on by an excess of sincerity and gave in, though on tough terms.

"The rest of the casting was problematic, too. Paramount wanted Robert Redford or Ryan O’Neal as Michael, the Don’s son; happily the Redford deal fell through. Rod Steiger wanted to do it. Warren Beatty turned it down. Martin Sheen, David Carradine and Dean Stockwell were considered. Even Robert De Niro tested for it: the footage that survives is remarkable. Only Coppola saw Al Pacino’s depths; casting director Fred Roos found him 'this sort of runty little guy.' Coppola prevailed. Pacino was paid only $35,000, but came through.

"James Caan, already a name, was tested for Michael, but was best suited for the part he got, Sonny. John Cazale as Fredo was perfect. For Robert Duvall’s part as the consigliere Tom Hagen, both John Cassavetes and Peter Falk approached Coppola. Coppola objected to casting his sister, Talia Shire, as Connie Corleone, yelling at their mother that Shire was too pretty. But she stayed in, and it became a family film: he eventually included his parents, and even his three-week-old daughter, Sofia.

"The shoot itself was a nightmare. 'My history with The Godfather was very much the history of someone in trouble,' says Coppola. He knew early on 'they were not happy with what I had done…,' and expected to be fired at any moment. In the men’s room he heard crew members talking: about the film – 'What a piece of junk!;' and about him – 'This guy doesn’t know what he’s doing.' Coppola was constantly undermined. Indeed, Elia Kazan was lined up as a possible replacement. Coppola 'kept dreaming that Kazan would arrive on the set and would say to me, 'Uh, Francis, I’ve been asked to…’' But Brando nobly said he would walk off the picture if Coppola was fired. Pacino, too, expected the boot: 'I always felt that I still had to win these people over.' He was convinced 'I was out – and then the Sollozzo scene came.' They loved his intensity as he takes bloody revenge in that great sequence in the restaurant.

"Brando came good. Coppola notes that 'without exception, every one of his crazy ideas I used turned out to be a terrific moment.'

"Coppola wanted to fill the film with 'hundreds and hundreds of interesting specifics,' one example being the cat Brando cradles in the first scene. It wandered onto the set, Coppola befriended it and settled it on Brando’s lap.

"Further disagreements abounded. Evans thought it unnecessary to shoot the Don’s death scene, now one of the best-remembered moments of the film. Cinematographer Gordon Willis thought Coppola unprofessional – Coppola said Willis 'hates and misuses actors.' Still, the end result is tremendous, radiating a powerful darkness. Even the now iconic music, by Nino Rota, was disliked by Evans. A favourable preview audience saved its bacon.

"Finally, there’s the length. Coppola chopped it down, on Paramount’s strict instructions, to a paltry 135 minutes (for exhibitors’ convenience). Then, Evans says, he himself turned on Coppola: 'You shot a saga, and you turned in a trailer. Now give me a movie.' The film was restored to its nearly three hours, and the rest is history – and movie legend."

Philip Horne teaches literature and film in the Department of English at University College London

Michele Morgan vs. Qatar!

Jean Gabin and Michele Morgan, as they appear in director Jean Delannoy's searing 1952 melodrama, La Minute de verite (1952).

For more than twenty years, the iconic French actress Michele Morgan, who co-starred with Jean Gabin in four great motion pictures -- Le Recif de corail (1938), Le Quai des brumes (1939), Remorques (1939/41), and La Minute de verite (1952) -- lived in the Hotel Lambert, a 17th Century mansion on the eastern tip of Paris. In 2007, a Qatarian Sheik bought the hotel, and he is now seeking to refurbish it in a way which many conservationists feel to be anachronistic with the original intent of the building. Morgan, who is today 89 years old, is working with the conservationists to try and stop this from happening.

Here is a very good article about the situation, written by Hannah Westley on September 12, 2009, for The National, the daily newspaper of the United Arab Emirates:

"Its façade may be less recognisable than the Louvre or the Sacré Coeur, but the history of the Hôtel Lambert, the 17th-century mansion at the eastern tip of Paris’ Ile Saint Louis, is in many ways no less remarkable. Currently at the heart of a polemic concerning its restoration, this hôtel particulier was once the epicentre of romantic Paris when it welcomed the likes of Voltaire, Chopin, Delacroix and George Sand. It is the mansion’s history and the way it is intertwined with the very fabric of the building’s construction that has made the Hôtel Lambert a cause célèbre for the Ile Saint Louis’s celebrity residents.

It was bought in 2007 by Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, brother to the Emir of Qatar, from the Baron Guy de Rothschild for a sum estimated to be somewhere between €60 million (Dh321m) and €80m. The building’s restoration project was handed to Alain-Charles Perrot, the chief architect of France’s historic monuments, and whose responsibility is their safeguarding and protection. The Qatari Prince wishes to restore the Lambert, classed as a Unesco heritage site, to its original function as a family home by uniting the present three apartments into a single dwelling. While this would appear to be a relatively unproblematic undertaking, what have caused more concern among conservationists are the proposed plans for an underground car park, which critics suggest could put at risk the building’s foundations, a lift and new bathrooms. Concerns have also been raised about the proposed transformation of the mansion’s hanging garden. In a move to protect against these changes, an association for the protection of historic Paris has gone to court to try to reverse official approval of the project.

Designed by Louis le Vau, the architect responsible for enlarging the Château of Versailles and building the famous castle Vaux-le-Vicomte, the Hôtel Lambert was constructed between 1639 and 1644 for Jean-Baptiste Lambert, secretary to Louis XIII. It houses some spectacular works of art including wall paintings and murals by le Brun, who went on to paint Versaille’s world-famous Galerie des Glaces. Armed with a petition of 8,000 signatures, lawyers for historic Paris have argued that the plans should be abandoned in the interests of national pride. Members of the hallowed Académie Française have also raised their objections. “Would they drill through the beams and floorboards of the Villa Medici to make room for an elevator shaft?” the academician Jean-Marie Rouart was heard to ask.

Other voices of dissent have come from more surprising quarters and include celebrities such as the comedian Guy Bedos, the singer Georges Moustaki and the iconic film star Michèle Morgan, who lived in the Lambert for 20 years. Other support has come from abroad, including Barry Bergdoll, the chief curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Italian architects Ricardo Florio and Edoardo Piccoli, the Canadian professors Myra Nan Rosenfeld and Georges Teyssot and the British art historian Mary Whiteley.

One of the problems with the architect’s original proposal was his intention to restore the mansion to its 17th-century glory, thereby suppressing the 18th-century elements as well as the 19th-century stained glass windows. Guidelines for the restoration of historic monuments, as laid out in the 1964 Venice Charter, indicate that unity of style should not be the aim of restoration, which should seek to conserve historical additions made over the centuries.

At the time of the prince’s purchase of the Lambert, many commentators remarked upon how France’s close diplomatic ties with Qatar are beginning to yield significant commercial advantages. Since the independence of Qatar in 1971, France has maintained strong links with this Francophile state, which has become a major economic force in Europe. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa was the first Arab head of state invited to the Elysée palace by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007. The Sheikh is said to have a direct line to the Elysée and the two men enjoy a close working relationship. It can only be hoped that the Hôtel Lambert does not come between them."

Here's the Hotel Lambert's "new owner," Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (not to be confused with Frank Zappa's alter-ego "Sheik Yerbouti" from the 1978 double album) and, apparently, he thinks nothing of placing a glass elevator in a 17th-century building! Hopefully, thanks to Michele Morgan and her hearty team of conservationist-commandos, he will soon have a healthy sense of "buyer's remorse!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Don't "Come with me to the Casbah:" On the Getty Center's Disappointing Algiers Exhibit

Visitors from France recently -- the Bardet/Danton family, who helped me when I was in France a few years ago, researching, and viewing films for, my book WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS AND LEGEND OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES ONE AND TWO (www.jeangabinbook.com).

The Bardet family -- husband and wife Lolo and Jean-Paul and their two kids Laetitia and Louis -- had never been to the Getty Center in Los Angeles, so I thought it would be a good excuse for me to catch up with the Getty's temporary exhibit, WALLS OF ALGIERS: NARRATIVES OF THE CITY, which will be in place through October 18th.

Of course, the famed Casbah section of the city of Algiers is famous for having appeared in Jean Gabin's legendary 1937 film Pepe Le Moko. I was looking forward to this exhibit, because I thought I would be treated not only to breathtaking images of Algiers, but also (maybe, I had hoped) some props or an original poster from the film? In short, I thought this exhibit would give me a comprehensive lesson in "all-things Casbah."

I was very disappointed to find that the Getty has relegated its Algiers exhibit to a small, 12 x 12 square-foot bedroom-sized room in a minor building, in the very back of the Getty Center, called The Exhbition Gallery. Very literally, the exhibit features two hanging maps of Algiers, a photo of a woman in a caftan, a couple of pictures of Jean Seberg visiting the Casbah in the '60s, and a glass table with a musical instrument and a scarf under it. That's it.

The Getty really dropped the ball on this one. You'll learn much more about Algiers just by watching the first six minutes of director Julien Duvivier's Pepe Le Moko, in which a narrator explains that the dusky Casbah is the home to Arabs, Berbers, black Africans, Turks, and kulughli (the offspring of Turkish solderis and Algerian women). Here are those first six minutes:

If you want to learn more about Algiers and the Casbah, watch Pepe Le Moko in its entirety, or read the great new 283-paged book which the Getty Center has produced in connection with its exhibit. (For some reason, Getty put a lot into the book, but not so much into the exhibit.) The book, like the exhibit, is called Walls of Algiers: Narratives of the City Through Text and Image, and the editors are Zeynep Celik, Julia Clancy-Smith, and Frances Terpak. You can buy it from Amazon.com, for $37.19.

You can also buy my own book, WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.

Detroit Artist Guy Budziak Creates Woodcuts Inspired by Jean Gabin and Other Great Film Noir Notables

I would like to take a brief moment to point you toward a great website:


Artist Guy Budziak, in Detroit, makes and sells some really gorgeous woodcuts, inspired by great, key moments from film noir cinema's greatest masterpieces. In Guy's precision pieces, you'll see great performers like Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Robert Ryan, Marie Winsdor, Joan Blondell, Ruth Roman, Robert Mitchum, Elisha Cook, Jr., Tyrone Power, Veronica Lake, Dana Andrews, and many more.

One of Guy's selections happens to be a great woodcut of Jean Gabin, culled from a sequence in director Julien Duvivier's haunting 1937 proto-noir, Pepe Le Moko . Guy tells me that he is currently working on a second Jean Gabin woodcut, which will soon be on the way.

Here's Guy's Gabin/Pepe Le Moko woodcut:

Jean Gabin is not the only French star to appear in one of Guy's woodcuts: The French author Ginette Vincendeau used Guy's woodcut of Alain Delon, from the 1967 neo-noir Le Samourai, for the front jacket of her 2008 book Les Stars et le Star-Systeme en France. (This book was published in France, by L'Harmattan.)

I definitely recommend that you visit Guy Budziak's website www.filmnoirwoodcuts.com, where you will see samples of his great work.

Happy 75th Birthday, Brigitte Bardot!

Here, Brigitte Bardot appears alongside Gabin in director Claude Autant-Lara's 1958 motion picture En cas de malheur.

Happy Birthday Brigitte Bardot, who wrote the foreword to my book WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUME TWO. (Go to www.jeangabinbook.com to find out how you can buy both volumes.)

Bardot appeared in forty-five feature films made between 1952 and 1973, including 1958's En cas de malheur, in which she co-starred, for the first and only time, with Jean Gabin. In Malheur, prostitute Bardot robs a store, and is defended by crusty old barrister Gabin, who is forty years her senior -- and of course, it's not long before the two of them are carrying on a tempestuous affair, with a tragic result. The literal title of the film means "In Case of Accident," but the film was released very briefly in the U.S., by Kinglsey Pictures, under the more lurid title, "Love is My Profession."

Brigitte Bardot has not appeared in a movie in thirty-six years, and today she continues to dedicate herself to the plight of cruelty against animals. To this end, she has created the Brigitte Bardot Foundation (it's the French equivalent of the American organization, P.E.T.A.), and you may read more about Ms. Bardot and her continuing great work by going to her website:



Happy 75th Birthday to Brigitte Bardot!

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Trailer for En cas de malheur, starring Jean Gabin and Brigitte Bardot

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Jean Gabin Book: The 2009/2010 Expanded/Revised "Second Edition" is Now Here: Press Release

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Here is Jean Gabin in the hypnotic 1939 film Le Recif de corail (The Coral Reefs, 1939), one of the films discussed in the book WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES ONE AND TWO, by Charles Zigman. While it was made during the same period when Gabin starred in such internationally recognized classics as Pepe Le Moko, La Bete humaine, Le Jour se leve, La Grande illusion, and Le Quai des brumes, Recif is completely unknown in America. In fact, because the film was considered to be "lost," it was unknown even in France, the country of its production, until 2004! The film actually had its French premiere in 2004, sixty years after it was produced.


For More Information, contact: publisher@allenwoodpress.com

“Jean Gabin is one of the greatest actors who ever lived. He is, to me, the paradigm of the perfect actor. He’s still. He’s honest. He’s brave. He would never make anything up. He would never add any emotion to it… And he performs with such simplicity, that it can only be understood as artistic courage…”
David Mamet


Awarded “Best Performing Arts Book” by Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2009 and “Book of the Year” for Best Performing Arts Book by Foreword Magazine in ‘08
Los Angeles, CA – Allenwood Press announces October 1, 2009 as the release date of the 2nd edition of a revised and expanded version of Film Historian/Author, Charles Zigman’s Award-Winning Two-Volume Set on the prolific film career of Actor Jean Gabin entitled, WORLD’S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN VOLS I AND II. Awarded “Best Performing Arts Book” by Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2009 and “Book of the Year” for Best Performing Arts Book by Foreword Magazine in ’08, the newly expanded and revised 2nd edition includes new photographs and twelve completely re-written chapters, with new information discovered via reader feedback from the First Edition.

The twelve film chapters which have been completely re-written from scratch for The Second Edition are for the films Coeurs joyeux (1933), La Bandera (1935), La Belle equipe (1935), Gueule d'amour (1937), Remorques (1941), Moontide (1942), Impostor (1944), L'Air de Paris (1954), Gas-Oil (1955), Razzia sur la chnouf (1955), Voici le temps des assassins (1957), and Le Chat (1971). Most of the other chapters feature important revisions, alterations, and deletions, as well.

Considered to be one of the greatest movie stars of all time by movie fans throughout the world, the legendary French actor Jean Gabin’s entire prolific film career is documented in the WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES ONE AND TWO. These are the very first filmography books on Jean Gabin and his ninety-five films in any language, not to mention the very first books ever written about Jean Gabin in the English-language. “For many people around the world,” Ian Birnie, film curator of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has said, “Jean Gabin is, and has always been, French cinema.”
The legendary actress Michele Morgan, who appeared with Gabin in some of his best known feature films, wrote the foreword to Volume One. Actress Brigitte Bardot penned an original foreword to Volume Two; Playwright/Director David Mamet has provided an “appreciation” in the same volume.

WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES I AND II is for Jean Gabin newbies and completists alike: For the un-initiated, both books feature lengthy biography and introductory chapters which place Gabin and his famous big-screen persona into perspective; and for film buffs, Film Historian/Author Charles Zigman presents ninety-five separate chapters dedicated to Jean Gabin's ninety-five theatrical feature films. Each of the two volumes features over 100 rare archival photographs, never seen before in other published French-language books about Jean Gabin.

More than sixty motion pictures which have never been subtitled into English have been translated by native speakers and written about by Author Zigman in WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES I AND II, allowing English-speaking readers to feel, by reading about the films, that they’re actually ‘seeing’ them. Excerpts included from original U.S. and European newspaper reviews, written between the 1930’s and the 1970’s, demonstrate how prominent movie critics received Gabin's pictures when they were first released.
Throughout the world, Jean Gabin is considered to be film history’s consummate everyman, and he continues to be a huge cult figure in the United States. In 2002, week-long Jean Gabin festivals were presented at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’ and at the Walter Reade Theatres in New York to sold-out crowds. In September of 2008, Author Zigman, in connection with the release of the First Edition, presented a two-night Jean Gabin Screening Event and Book Signing at the American Cinematheque at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theater.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Gabin's popularity in the U.S. equaled that of Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, and Bette Davis. Volume One, subtitled "Tragic Drifter," explores the period between 1930 to 1953, and covers the first forty-six of Gabin’s films, including the internationally renowned GRAND ILLUSION, as well as the 1937 gangster classic PEPE LE MOKO in which, as in other films made during this period, the actor reucrringly plays international movie history's most famous tragic drifter.

Volume Two, subtitled "Comeback/Patriarch," covers Films 47 through 95, which Gabin made between 1954 and 1976. During this period, instead of playing the tragic drifter, the star played a series of mega-cool gentleman-criminals and world-weary yet life-loving patriarchs. Gabin even turned out comedies during this period, films which have been previously unknown to English-speaking audiences.
Film Historian/Author Charles Zigman’s goal is to introduce as many people as possible to Gabin’s films and life in a fun, informative, comprehensive way. The 2nd edition of WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES I AND II will be available October 1, 2009. The two volumes are sold separately.

Film Historian/Author Charles Zigman, a native of Los Angeles, has taught Film and Television at Augusta State University, Georgia. Zigman is a graduate of both UCLA’s undergraduate filmmaking program and Columbia University’s Graduate Department of Film in New York, where he co-wrote a screenplay with writing legend Terry Southern. Zigman has also contributed articles to NEW TIMES LOS ANGELES, CULT MOVIES MAGAZINE, THE HOLLYWOOD STOCK EXCHANGE, WORD.COM, and L.A. TRIBE.COM, not to mention several chapters to the 2001 book GIG: AMERICANS TALK ABOUT THEIR JOBS AT THE TIME OF THE MILLENNIUM (Crown Books). For the past ten years, he has traveled the world, researching and writing about all ninety-five films of Jean Gabin. He currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. For more information, go to www.jeangabinbook.com and www.allenwoodpress.com.

Volume One: Tragic Drifter: ISBN: #978-0-9799722-0-1. ($39.95 U.S./£25.00 U.K./ €26.85 European Union.) Hardcover, 6 x 9, 576pps., 113 black and white photos, Pub. Date: October 1, 2009.

Volume Two: Comeback/Patriarch: ISBN: #978-0-9799722-1-8. ($39.95 U.S./£25.00 U.K./ €26.85 European Union.) Hardcover, 6 X 9, 532pps., 100 black and white photos, Pub. Date: October 1, 2009.

Distributed by: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.ca, Baker and Taylor, Barnes and Noble, Bertram’s, Blackwell Book Services, Coutts, Cypher Library Supplier, Gardner’s, Holt Jackson, Ingram, NACSCORP, Book Depository.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New 2009/2010 "Second Edition" of Jean Gabin Book, Revised and Expanded, Available Today, September 1, 2009


September 1, 2009:

The All-New, Revised and Expanded Second Edition (aka, the "2009/2010 Edition") is Here.

More photographs! More chapters! More Gabin than ever before!


The book was released on July 20, 2008, to enormous successs.

Because of its success, the book's publisher, Allenwood Press, has commissioned me to complete the new "Second Edition," which is being released today, September 1, 2009, marking the book's one year anniversary.

This new, Second Edition of my two-volume book ("Version 2.0") l features updated information, scads of extra photographs, and a number of revisions -- in fact, twelve of the individual "film" chapters have been re-written completely from scratch. I have tried to make the book an interactive experience, in the sense that I provided an email address in the First Edition, and invited readers to send me their comments and criticisms; the new Second Edition is the product of the collaboration between myself and the readers.

Please stay tuned to this page, and please check out www.jeangabinbook.com, for more information on the Second Edition of WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES ONE AND TWO, by Charles Zigman.
Volume One covers Gabin's younger "matinee idol" years; Volume Two concentrates on the films he made when he was older, when he was French cinema's premiere patriarch.

Buy both Volumes now at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com, or ask a Bookseller near you.

Also, if you have a chance, please make sure to give my book a "reader review" on Amazon.com or on Barnesandnoble.com (or on both).

And: Don't forget to go "beyond the book" at my blog site,

PS: If you know somebody who likes classic movies, please tell them about my two-book set.

Thank you again.

Chuck Zigman, author (photograph: 9/1/09)

It's WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN by CHARLES ZIGMAN. VOLUME ONE (576pps.,ISBN #978-0-9799722-0-1) and VOLUME TWO (532pps.,ISBN # 978-0-9799722-1-8).

Volume One, which has been subtitled "Tragic Drifter," takes us through Gabin's first forty-six films, including the internationally renknowned Grand Illusion and Pepe Le Moko, a period spanning the years 1930 to 1953, during which time he played movie history's most famous tragic drifter. During the 1930s and 1940s, Gabin's popularity in the U.S. even eclipsed that of Bogart, James Cagney, and Bette Davis. (Ever heard anybody say, "Come with me to the Casbah. We will make ze beautiful muzeek togezaire?" It was famously attributed to the character Jean Gabin portrayed in the 1937 gangster classic Pepe Le Moko and Charles Boyer portrayed in the subsequent English-langugae remake, Algiers, made one year later, even though neither Gabin nor Boyer eever actually uttered those words.) In fact Gabin and Boyer's "Pepe" character even inspired Warner Bros. to create its legendary cartoon skunk, Pepe Le Pew, whose looks and voice were modeled on the actors.)

Volume Two, covers Films 47 through 95, which Gabin made between 1954 and 1976. During this period of his career, instead of playing the tragic drifter, he played a series of mega-cool gentleman-criminals, and world-weary (yet life-loving) patriarchs. He'll even turn out some hilarious comedies during this period, which are criminally unknown in the U.S., and this Volume has been subtitled, "Comeback/Patriarch."

The tone of the book is "fun and readable," the goal of the project being, to introduce as many people as I can to the films of Gabin; to that end, it's loaded with rare photographs, many of which have never appeared even in previously published French-language books about Gabin.

It's a book for Jean Gabin 'newbies' and 'completists' both: For the uninitiated, there are some biography and 'intro' chapters, which place Gabin, and his famous big-screen persona into perspective. For the completists, I (the author) have unpacked every single one of Jean Gabin's ninety-five theatrical feature films, even the more than fifty pictures which have never been subtitled into English before, so that you can feel, by reading the chapters, that you're actually seeing the films. Excerpts from newspapers written back in the day, both in the U.S. and in Europe, will show you how prominent movie critics received Gabin's pictures the day they were first released, in the 1930s through the 1970s.

Order Now: