Sunday, December 13, 2009

Leonard Maltin Picks Book About Jean Gabin as One of His Best Books of 2009

Hi, Everybody:

I can't believe it's been almost two months since my last post. Thank you for your interest in Jean Gabin, and in my book WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES ONE AND TWO.

I had some pretty good news this week: Leonard Maltin picked WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR as one his favorite movie books of 2009 and, as you can see, the book is in pretty good company:

Leonard Maltin

And now, here comes a crass sales pitch. (Believe me, I'm the least likely salesman on earth -- I hate when people try and sell me things! -- so I apologize in advance!)

If you haven't already bought WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR, now's the time: While each of the two volumes is $39.95 at (total, $79.90 if you buy the two volumes), Barnes and is selling them for $35.95 for each volume -- that's a total of $71.80 if you purchase both Volume One and Volume Two (or, a savings of $8.00). And remember: This is the expanded/revised 2009/2010 edition, which features more biographical information and photographs, as well as reader-submitted additions, deletions, and corrections.

If you already own the two-volume set of WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR, please think about buying a copy or two for anybody on your holiday shopping list who likes classic movies.

Thank you!

Chuck Zigman,
Los Angeles

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Breaking News: Jean Gabin Book Wins First Place (Gold) in USA Book News National Book Awards

Woke up with some good news this morning:

My new book, WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN (Allenwood Press) has won First Place (Gold) in the USA Book News National Best Book Awards for 2009, in the category of Performing Arts.

The two-volume book is a complete biography and filmography of the legendary French movie star, who starred in such internationally recognized classic films as Pepe Le Moko, La Grande Illusion, Le Jour se leve, La Bete humaine, and Le Quai des brumes.

Gabin has always been considered to be France's #1 movie star of all time, and the goal of my book is for the actor to be as apreciated in the English-speaking world as he's always been in the France. To that end, the tone of the book is "fun" and "accessible," and each of the two volumes features more than 100 photographs.

Actresses Brigitte Bardot and Michele Morgan have written original forewords and David Mamet has contributed an appreciation.

Learn more about the book at:

To read about the 2009 USA Book News National Book Awards, go to:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

NYC's Julien Duvivier Festival Comes to Berkeley, Includes Four Julien Duvivier/Jean Gabin Collaborations

"This cous-cous needs more tumeric!"
French acting legend Jean Gabin as smooth criminal Pepe Le Moko in director Julien Duvivier's 1937 gangster classic. This film and four other Gabin/Duvivier collaborations, will be presented in October, at Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive, as part of the Archive's sixteen-film tribute to the legendary French director, Julien Duvivier.

West Coast Jean Gabin Fans who were unable to make it to New York City this past May -- those of us who missed the Museum of Modern Art's Twenty-Two Gun (Twenty-Two Film) Salute to the legendary French director Julien Duvivier -- will now have our own chance to see the same festival, presented here, on the 'left' coast: Throughout the month of October, Berkeley's Pacific Film Archives is showing a scaled-down sixteen-film version of MoMa's twenty-two film festival, including all four of the Duvivier/Gabin collaborations which MoMa presented in NYC earlier this year. (In all Julien Duvivier directed seven features which starred his good friend, Jean Gabin.)

All of director Duvivier's films are quite good (he's a genre filmmaker who subverts traditional genre filmmaking via the inclusion of often "trippy" proto-psychedelic sections), and the director's Gabin entries are some of his very strongest.

On Thursday October 8th (@ 6:30pm) and Friday October 9th (@ 8:30pm), you'll have your chance to see the most famous Duvivier/Gabin collaboration of all, 1937's Pepe Le Moko, in which Le Gabin plays the archetype for all film noir anti-heroes to come. In this seminal film, the charismatic criminal Pepe Le Moko hides out in the weird Dr. Seuss-via-Hieronymous Bosch Casbah region of Algiers, avoiding the police who are ever on his tail.

On Friday October 16th, La Bandera (1935) comes to Berkeley. In this outstanding adventure, Gabin's character, Pierre Gilieth, kills a pimp in Paris, high-tails it out of France, joins the Spanish Foreign Legion, and runs up against a crooked cop who's bent on capturing him. Of course, he'll fall in love with a mysterious dark beauty -- Arab girl Aischa, played by Annabella (a great French actress who was also the real-life wife of Tyrone Power).

On Sunday October 18th at 5:00pm, you'll get to see the jewel in the Gabin/Duvivier crown: It's the ultra-rare 1936 confection La Belle Equipe, a warm summer idyll which has been out of circulation of late, even in France, the country of its production. In La Belle equipe, a powerful comedy-drama which has not been seen in the U.S. since its initial release seventy-one years ago in 1938 (!), Gabin and four friends together win the lottery. They use their earnings to open up a countryside guinguette (combination hotel and dance hall), with results both amusing and tragic. Gabin even sings in this one, as he did in many of his other films. (You can hear the song in this warm summer idyll, "Quand on se promene au bord de l'eau." if you visit the website for my book about Jean Gabin, at La Belle equipe is one of the best movies ever about the ramifications of The Great Depression, its after-effects having spread to Europe.)

On Friday October 30th, at 8:25pm, it's the stark raving mad Voici le temps des Assassins (U.S. release title, Deadlier Than the Male) one of the most violent, loopy, weird film noir titles ever -- it's a Jim Thompson novel on meth! Gabin is a middle-aged chef with an overbearing mother who gets grifted by a team of mother-and-daughter prostitutes, and the film displays some jaw-dropping kinkiness that seems right out of a Russ Meyer movie. Voici le temps is one of those rare movies wherein, after it's over, you won't be able to get up. (After it's over, you'll turn to the person sitting next to you and ask, vis-a-vis the genuinely shocking and one-of-a-kind ending, "Did I see what I think I just saw?" Yes, you did.) It's appropriate that Pacific Film Archives is showing this film on Halloween weekend. It's as spooky as any horror film.

The Pacific Film Archives is located at 2575 Bancroft Way (between College and Telegraph) in Berkeley.

Here is a full-schedule of the entire series. Series coordinated at PFA by Susan Oxtoby. Program notes adapted from texts by Joshua Siegel, associate curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and by Lenny Borger.

“Genius is just a word; filmmaking is a craft.”—Julien Duvivier

Jean Renoir once proclaimed, “If I were an architect and I had to build a monument to the cinema, I would place a statue of (Julien) Duvivier above the entrance. . . . This great technician, this rigorist, was a poet.” The French director and screenwriter Julien Duvivier (1896–1967), whose astonishingly varied career spanned both Europe and Hollywood, was also championed by Orson Welles, Ingmar Bergman, and Graham Greene. This retrospective offers a rare chance to discover the work of this influential filmmaker.

Working in a darkly poetic realist style—Greene wrote admiringly that “his mood is violent, and belongs to the underside of the stone”—Duvivier made popular melodramas, thrillers, religious epics, comedies, wartime propaganda, musicals, and literary adaptations of novels by Émile Zola, Leo Tolstoy, and Georges Simenon. This exhibition features rarities and revelations, as well as masterpieces starring the great actor Jean Gabin, including La belle équipe (1936), Pépé le Moko (1937), and Deadlier Than the Male (1956). Also featured is Duvivier’s favorite among his films, Poil de Carotte (1932), a heartbreaking chronicle of childhood.

Joshua Siegel
The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Friday, October 2, 2009
6:30 p.m. The Whirlwind of Paris (France, 1927). Judith Rosenberg on piano. This rare silent features Lil Dagover, a star of German Expressionist cinema, as an opera singer who becomes restless in her marriage and longs to return to the Parisian stage. (108 mins)

Friday, October 2, 2009
8:50 p.m. Poil de Carotte (France, 1932). Duvivier’s favorite among his own films is a poignant portrait of a lonely farm boy, a “classic chronicle of childhood.”— Lenny Borger (91 mins)

Sunday, October 4, 2009
4:00 p.m. La vie miraculeuse de Thérèse Martin France, 1929). Judith Rosenberg on piano. A stark and striking biography of sainted Carmelite nun Thérèse de Lisieux. (113 mins)

JEAN GABIN: Thursday, October 8, 2009 6:30 p.m. Pépé le Moko (France, 1937). Duvivier’s most influential film stars Jean Gabin as a suave Parisian jewel thief who eludes capture by taking refuge in the Casbah. “I cannot remember (a picture) which has succeeded so admirably in raising the thriller to a poetic level.”— Graham Greene (94 mins)

"Come with me to the Casbah... we will make ze beautiful muzeek togezaire, no?!" Jean Gabin didn't really say this in Pepe Le Moko (1937), but everybody thinks he did. (It's similar to how Cary Grant never really said, "Judy, Judy, Judy...")

Friday, October 9, 2009
6:30 p.m. Au bonheur des dames (France, 1930). Judith Rosenberg on piano. Depicting the life of a Parisian department store and a small shop trying to survive in its shadow, Duvivier’s final silent film is “an orgy of pure cinema (and an) alternately sincere and cynical hymn to capitalist endeavor.”—Village Voice (c. 85 mins)

JEAN GABIN: Friday, October 9, 2009 8:30 p.m. Pépé le Moko (France, 1937). See October 8. (94 mins)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009
7:00 p.m. Allo Berlin? Ici Paris! (France/Germany, 1932). Young switchboard operators in Paris and Berlin flirt across telephone lines, national borders, and romance languages in this celebration of continental cosmopolitanism between the wars. A major rediscovery that reveals Duvivier’s lighter, more experimental side. (89 mins)

JEAN GABIN: Friday, October 16, 2009 6:30 p.m. La Bandera (France, 1935). Duvivier’s sensuous and brooding Foreign Legion melodrama made Jean Gabin a star. “It looks like an exquisite newsreel taken away and baked brown to give you the feel of the air.”— Alistair Cooke (100 mins)

Aftermath of man stealing Jean Gabin's wallet in La Bandera (1935).

Saturday, October 17, 2009
5:15 p.m. The Great Waltz (France, 1938). Duvivier made his Hollywood debut with this opulent MGM musical, a symphony of lavish set pieces depicting the romantic early years of composer Johann Strauss. (103 mins)

Sunday, October 18, 2009
JEAN GABIN: 5:00 p.m. La belle équipe (France, 1936). Made in an era of political and social tumult, Duvivier’s film uses beautifully fluid camerawork, pastoral settings, and popular song to trace five workers’ efforts to rise out of poverty. Jean Gabin leads the ensemble cast. (101 mins)

Gabin and his friends decide what to do with their lottery winnings, in La Belle equipe (1936).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009
7:00 p.m. La Fin du jour (France, 1938). One of French cinema’s most poignant, and caustic, portraits of the world of theater depicts an old-age home for destitute actors who wistfully relive their past triumphs and defeats. With Michel Simon, Louis Jouvet, Victor Francen, and other greats. (100 mins)

Saturday, October 24, 2009
6:30 p.m. La Tête d’un homme (France, 1933). Harry Baur stars in “one of the first great screen incarnations of Georges Simenon’s famous sleuth, Inspector Maigret. . . . Both a classic film noir and a seminal police procedural.”—Lenny Borger (98 mins)

Sunday, October 25, 2009
3:00 p.m. Anna Karenina (U.K., 1948). Vivien Leigh stars in Duvivier’s lavish adaptation of Tolstoy’s novel. This gorgeous print highlights Henri Alekan’s moodily atmospheric cinematography. (111 mins)

Thursday, October 29, 2009
6:30 p.m. Holiday for Henrietta (France, 1952). Two screenwriters dispute the fate of their charming heroine in this enchanting classic that sends up the clash between comedy and drama. (118 mins)

JEAN GABIN: Friday, October 30, 2009 8:25 p.m. Voici le temps des assassins (Deadlier Than the Male) (France, 1956). Danièle Delorme plays the quintessential femme fatale, hooking restaurateur Jean Gabin, in “Duvivier’s darkest study of moral depravity.”—Lenny Borger (114 mins)

Chef Gabin and his young protege are both in love with an inscrutable woman who plays them against each other (it's happened to the best of us!) with tragic results, in Voici le temps des assassins (1957).

Saturday, October 31, 2009
6:30 p.m. Pot-Bouille (France, 1957). Adapting a Zola novel, Duvivier creates a scintillating satire of the Second Empire bourgeoisie. The sterling cast is headed by Gérard Philipe and Danielle Darrieux. (115 mins)

Series coordinated at PFA by Susan Oxtoby. Program notes adapted by Oxtoby from texts by Joshua Siegel, associate curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and by Lenny Borger.

PFA wishes to thank the following individuals and institutions for their assistance with this retrospective: Joshua Siegel, The Museum of Modern Art; Éric Le Roy and Jean-Baptiste Garnero, CNC French Film Archives; Monique Faulhaber, Cinémathèque Française; Sandrine Butteau and Delphine Selles, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, New York; Christophe Musitelli and Cecile Hokes, French Consulate, San Francisco; Gilles Venhard, Gaumont; René Chateau, Edition René Chateau; Gyslaine Gracieux and Nils Offet, TF1 International; Nathalie Graumann, Société nouvelle de distribution; Archer Neilson; and Christian Duvivier for his support of this project.

Archival prints and musical accompaniment for silent films are presented with support from the Packard Humanities Institute.


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 (

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, 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 and Barnes and

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, 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 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:

“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 and

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:,,,, 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, 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 and, or ask a Bookseller near you.

Also, if you have a chance, please make sure to give my book a "reader review" on or on (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:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Richard Schickel: Time Magazine Critic Prefers Jean Gabin to Spencer Tracy (Yes!) and Says Goodbye to LACMA's Film Program

In October 2009, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will shutter its 37-year film program, which included a popular twelve-film 2002 tribute to Jean Gabin.

by Charles Zigman, August 5, 2009.

On July 28, 2009, Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, announced that his museum's prestigous Friday and Saturday night film screenings, a Los Angeles mainstay for more than thirty-seven years, will be shut down, in October, due to lack of financing and because it's been bleeding money: The program has lost, according to Govan, more than $1 million over the last ten years. (During a bad economy, as this author has discovered elsewhere, the arts -- especially film -- is the first thing to go.)

It's tragic, because LACMA is one of the few places left in the entire country where one can regularly go to see great old movies, projected in a theater, and the films programmed by former curator Ian Birnie were often brilliant and neglected. (How long before L.A.'s American Cinematheque and N.Y.'s Film Forum are boarded up?)

On August 1, Time Magazine's illustrious film critic Richard Schickel wrote an Opinion piece for the L.A. Times, entitled, "LACMA's Cruelest Cut," in which he decried LACMA's savage cut. In the same piece, he extolled some of the great movies and filmmakers he had witnessed at LACMA's Leo S. Bing Theater over the last many years.

Especially, in his Times piece, Schickel celebrated the great French actor Jean Gabin, the subject of this author's two-volume biography/filmography WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, which was released on July 20, 2008 ( The all-new, expanded/revised version of the book will be released on September 1, 2009.

In his L.A. Times piece, Schickel wrote:

"[At LACMA], you could have witnessed the great Jean Gabin (weary, taciturn and the kind of actor Spencer Tracy aimed to be but never quite became) in Touchez pas au Grisbi, experiencing a screen portrayal at its highest and most subtle level."

Above, Schickel has referenced the fact that American journalists have always called Jean Gabin "the French Spencer Tracy," but that, in his opinion, Gabin is superior to Tracy. (This author loves both actors, but has to agree with Schickel.)

LACMA's 2002 twelve-film tribute series to Jean Gabin was, principally, what lit the fire under me to write my book about Gabin. I had seen a number of his films before, but LACMA screened some of the actor's films which had rarely been screened in Los Angeles, in beautiful 35 millimeter prints, and I couldn't wait to write about them.

And of course, while I'm devastated to see LACMA's film series go, and while I try to stay away from editorializing on this blogsite (as well as in my life), I can also see the other side of the picture as well, in the sense that, while LACMA's Friday and Saturday night film presentations are one of my favorite things about L.A., I'm also hopelessly pragmatic; I understand that the series had lost more than $1 million over the last ten years, because of underattendance. (Usually, only 250 out of the theater's 600 seats are sold.) So while I feel horribly that LACMA's film series has to be axed, I have to say that I also agree with director Govan. Some people, on line, are "making petitions" in the hopes of restoring LACMA's film program, but if the petitioners are really interested, what they should really do is send LACMA some money, instead of some signatures. I try not to add any vitriol to this blog site, but it always infuriates me, to no end, when groovy artsy-craftsy people want something done, but they always think it should come out of somebody else's pocket, and I am guilty of this grievous sin sometimes, too. If you want LACMA to continue its series, as I do, you should be thinking, as I am thinking right now, about writing LACMA a check, because the arts don't run themselves, especially during a Recession. Just like anything else worth doing, you have to fight for it, and the way we fight, here in America, is with green paper with pictures of presidents on it, and not by signing a passive-agressive petition. And, yes, I am completely serious about this.

What I'm trying to say, most ineffectively, is that I hope LACMA can restore its Friday and Saturday night film presentations, but if it can't, it can't. Money talks. I thank the Museum for the years of pleasure its film screenings have given me and others in L.A.

And I thank Richard Schickel for pointing out, correctly, in his Los Angeles Times piece, that Jean Gabin is "the real Spencer Tracy!"

Rene Dary and Jean Gabin starred in Touchez pas au grisbi, which was screened at LACMA, in 2002, as part of the Museum's Gabin Film Festival.

The all-new 2009 edition of WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES ONE AND TWO, will be available on September 1, 2009. Check this blogsite for updates!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Michael Jackson/Jean Gabin Connection

Josephine Baker and Jean Gabin in the classic 1934 film, Zouzou.

There's not really any connection between Michael Jackson and Jean Gabin, but Rolling Stone Magazine has just reported that, whenever Jackson met with doctors in order to attain his prescriptions (Demerol, Clonazepan, etc.), he would do so under something like nineteen different aliases. Most of these names are made-up, although Jackson would sometimes obtain medicine under the monicker, Josephine Baker!

Of course, the great African-American entertainer, Josephine Baker, lived in France in the 1920s and 1930s, and it is there that she starred in a number of great feature films, one of which, Zouzou, co-starred her with Jean Gabin. It's one of the most extraordinary French features of the early 1930s.

Zouzou is available on DVD from

Demerol and Clonazepam are available from your doctor.

World's Coolest Movie Star: The Complete 95 Films (and Legend) of Jean Gabin, Volumes One and Two, by Charles Zigman -- featuring a chapter about Josephine Baker and Jean Gabin in Zouzou -- is also available from

Friday, July 17, 2009

Michele Morgan, 89, Jean Gabin's Greatest Co-Star, wins Legion of Honor Award in Paris!

Some great news!

This past week, on July 14, the great and luminiscent French actress Michele Morgan, who is 89 years old, was one of six recipients of the Legion of Honor award in France, a prize which she shares with actress Bernadette Lafont, directors Jerome Deschamps and Macha Makeieff, former Minister of Justice Albin Chalandion, and academician Jean-Marie Rouart.

Morgan, for Anglophone movie fans who might not familiar with her, is one of France's leading movie stars of the Golden Age, as popular in her native country as Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, and Bette Davis are in the United States.

Of course, she is probably also Jean Gabin's greatest co-star; in fact, in director Michele Carne's 1938 classic of French Poetic Realism, Le Quai des brumes (Port of Shadows), Gabin tells Morgan, "T'as de beaux yeux, tu sais" (translation: "You have the most beautiful eyes, you know"). (In terms of its paramount importance, this line of dialogue is right up there with "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn," from Gone with the Wind, where French film scholars and film fans are concerned.) In real-life, Gabin and Morgan were an item for awhile, in the late '30s and early '40s, as well.

Very literally, this is the most famous line in the history of French cinema:
"T'as de beaux yeux, tu sais." (It's not 'what' Gabin says swooningly to Morgan, but how he says it.)

Right before she co-starred with Gabin in 1939's Le Quai des brumes, Morgan, who was then only 17, first appeared alongside the actor in 1938's Le Recif de corail (The Coral Reef), and she and Gabin also co-starred together in 1941's Remorques (Tugboats/Misty Wharves) and 1952's La Minute de verite (The Moment of Truth). Additionally, Gabin and Morgan appeared separately in director Sacha Guitry's undernourished 1952 epic, Napoleon,which might be the only 'bad' film associated with either actor.

Michele Morgan, who was born Simone Roussel on February 29, 1920 (a leap year), first came to the attention of the French moviegoing public with her starring role in director Marc Allegret's 1937 Gribouille, a sort of pre-cursor to Lumet's Twelve Angry Men, and she appeared in more than seventy movies and television roles up until the time she retired from the screen, in 1999. During the Second World War, when Germany invaded France, many French film notables, including both Gabin and Morgan, temporarily moved to Hollywood where they appeared in a number of American-made English-language films.

Morgan has been married three times -- to the American actor William Marshall, to the French actor Henri Vidal, and to the director Gerard Oury, and her son by William Marshall, Mike Marshall, who passed away in 2005, was a film actor as well.

Today, retired from performing, the multifaceted Michele Morgan continues to be a painter of great repute, with occasional gallery exhibitions in France. Here she is on June 11, 2008, still beautiful and engaging at the age of 88:

And of course, Morgan has also contributed an original foreword to my book WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN ( The First Edition of WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR was released on July 20, 2008, and the all-new revised/updated/expanded Second Edition should be released around September 1, 2009. Keep your eyes on this blogsite for more details as they become available.

Congratulations to Michele Morgan on her great honor!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Bastille Day from Jean Gabin!

Happy Bastille Day from

Today is July 14th. It's the perfect day to celebrate a great French holiday, Bastille Day... and it's also a perfect day to buy a copy of a book about a great French movie star:

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 le 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 nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution.

Festivities are held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic.

The parade opens with many cadets from the École Polytechnique, Saint-Cyr, École Navale, and so forth, then other infantry troops, then motorised troops; aviation of the Patrouille de France flies above. In recent times, it has become customary to invite units from France's allies to the parade; in 2004 during the centenary of the Entente Cordiale, British troops (the band of the Royal Marines, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, Grenadier Guards and King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery) led the Bastille Day parade in Paris for the first time, with the Red Arrows flying overhead.[1]

Traditionally, the students of the École Polytechnique set up some form of joke.[citation needed]

The president used to give an interview to members of the press, discussing the situation of the country, recent events and projects for the future. Nicolas Sarkozy, elected president in 2007, has chosen not to give it. The President also holds a garden party at the Palais de l'Elysée.

Article 17 of the Constitution of France gives the President the authority to pardon offenders, and since 1991 the President has pardoned many petty offenders (mainly traffic offences) on 14 July. In 2007, President Sarkozy declined to continue the practice[2].

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Jean Gabin in GRAND ILLUSION: Watch It Right Here/Right Now



I'm hard at work on the all-new, expanded/revised 2009 edition of my book, which should be available around September 1st (keep checking back at this blogsite for the exact date), and this is why I haven't been posting blog entries regularly.

In the meantime, how would you like to watch a Jean Gabin movie right now?

Here you go:

Director Jean Renoir's 1937 classic, La Grande illusion, is perhaps the best known of all of Gabin's ninety-five feature films and, of course, it's considered to be one of the Top 100 Movies of All Time by almost every serious film critic on earth.

Grand Illusion is, primarily, the story of three World War One fighter pilots -- an aristocrat (Pierre Fresnay), a member of the working-class (Jean Gabin), and an 'eternally wandering Jew' who fits in with neither of those two classes (Marcel Dalio) -- and how their friendship will overcome their differences, especially when they are captured and placed in various POW camps. Their 'foil,' who turns out to be good-hearted, is the German colonel Von Rauffenstein, who's played by Eric von Stroheim (his is an iconic role; even if you've never seen Grand Illusion, you've probably, at some point in your life, seen an image of Stroheim from this film -- bald-headed, monocle, standing collar, etc.).

I hope you enjoy Grand Illusion. The film has been uploaded in 15 chapters, but don't worry, you don't have to do anything; at the end of each chapter, the film will automatically proceed to the following chapter.

To read more about Jean Gabin and Grand Illusion, buy a copy of WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES ONE AND TWO. The New/Expanded/Revised 2009 Edition should be available on September 1, 2009.

Thank you! Hope you're having a nice summer.

Charles Zigman,

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day from!

Happy Independence Day from

WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, winner of the Independent Publishers Association Book of the Year (Performing Arts category) is available now on and

Thursday, July 2, 2009

All-New Expanded/Revised "2009 Edition" of Jean Gabin Books: Coming Soon

Hi, Everybody!

Thank you to everybody who has supported my book WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES ONE AND TWO. My goal is that the great French movie icon should be as recognized here in the U.S. as he's always been throughout the rest of the world, and I hope that I am helping that to happen, one copy at a time.

Since the book's initial publication one year ago, in July 2008, I hosted a sold-out, two-night Gabin-related event at the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles, and the book has even won two prominent book awards just over the last week: WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR was the bronze medal winner as Performing Arts Book of the Year in both the Independent Publishing (IP)Book Awards and the ForeWord Magazine Book Awards. (ForeWord Magazine is the trade publication of 35,000 independent librarians nationwide.) A few days ago, I posted a blog about these two awards. The book has also received some glowing critical reviews.

Anyway, I have decided to make WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR an 'interactive' experience, in the sense that I posted my email address in the book (, and I invited readers to share their thoughts. I have received a lot of feedback about the book, which I have decided to incorporate into an all-new Second Edition (aka, 'the First 2009 Edition' or 'Version 2.0'), which will be released sometime in August. Since there is only one book about Jean Gabin in English, and since I've spent an entire decade working on the two volumes, my goal is to make it the best, and most correct/accurate book I can, since this is really the best way to honor the acting legend.

To that end, the upcoming new, Second Edition of WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR will feature more chapters, more photographs, and more information about Gabin which I didn't cover in the first edition -- mostly because I didn't know about it when the first edition went to press. (Did you know that Gabin performed on a 90-minute radio show in France, in 1960, with the musician Leo Ferre? I didn't know it either, but information about this historic broadcast has now been added into the book). Additionally, for the new, Second Edition, I have completely re-written, from scratch, 15 of the books 95 filmography chapters, and I have added extra information to many other chapters, as well. Now, in 2009, there are more Gabin DVDs available with English subtitles than there were a year ago, so I have even added information into the book about where you can get them.

I will let you know when the Second Edition is available. (Note: The version which is currently available on and is only the First Edition.)

So, thank you to everybody who has read WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR. The Second Edition is coming soon, and I promise it will be bigger, better, and "Frencher" than ever.

Charles Zigman,

PS: Feel free to bookmark my all-new blogsite, where I'll talk about my other areas of interest, outside of Jean Gabin. I just put it up yesterday:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jean Gabin Book, Wins Two Book Awards in 2009

Some good news this month, as my book, WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, won two book awards, taking home the bronze award in both competitions:

WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR is the winner of the 2009 Independent Publishing (IP) Book Awards (Bronze), in the category of Performing Arts. (The First Place/Gold winner was Quincy Jones's autobiography, The Complete Quincy Jones and the Second Place/Silver winner was Inside Beethoven's Quartets, from Harvard University Press.) My book tied for third place (bronze) with Robert Osborne's 80 Years of Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards and Historic Photos of Broadway by Leonard Jacobs.

WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR is also the winner of ForeWord Magazine's 2008 Book of the Year Awards (Bronze), in the category of Performing Arts and Drama. (The First Place/Gold winner was What We Do: Working in the Theater, from Infinity Press, and the Second Place/Silver Winner was the new English translation of Book of Dreams, by Federico Fellini, from Rizzoli Press.)

The newly revised/updated 2009 Edition of WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN ("Version 2.0"), from Allenwood Press, will be available to purchase later this summer. Check back to this blogsite for more details.

For more information about WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR, please email or phone Allenwood Press: or (323)297-2130.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Jean Gabin: Plumber?

I was having lunch yesterday at a great L.A. diner, the Good Neighbor Restaurant on Cahuenga Blvd., when I happened to notice this van in the parking lot.

Apparently, Jean Gabin -- besides being THE WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR (per the title of my book) -- is now, also, a plumber!

The all-new Second Edition (aka, 'The First 2009 Edition') of WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR will be available later this summer. Keep your eyes on this blogsite for more information.

Chuck Zigman,
World's Coolest Movie Star: The Complete 95 Films (and Legend) of Jean Gabin, Volumes One and Two.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy 105th Birthday, Jean Gabin!

Today is Sunday, May 17th, 2009.

Happy 105th Birthday to Jean Gabin.

Jean Gabin, of course, passed on in 1976, at the age of 72, but he will continually be remembered, because he is THE WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR. Audiences who lined up last week at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, to see Gabin in two films directed by Julien Duvivier, 1935's "La Bandera" and 1936's "La Belle equipe," already know that.

World's Coolest Movie Star: The Complete 95 Films (and Legend) of Jean Gabin, Volumes One and Two, the first English-language book about Gabin, is available at and Barnes and, or ask a bookseller near you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu Completely Unrelated to "World's Coolest Movie Star" Jean Gabin

I was trying to find a connection between the current Swine Flu hysteria and Jean Gabin, and there isn't one -- although this photo has recently surfaced!

Friday, April 10, 2009

22-Film Julien Duvivier Tribute at MoMa (NYC), May 2009, Includes Four Jean Gabin Movies, Including Ultra-Rarities!

Harry Nilsson was correct when he sang, "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City," because in May 2009, NYC will definitively be the place to be: The Museum of Modern Art will be honoring the legendary French director Julien Duvivier, with a twenty-two film/month-long tribute. A great majority of the films being screened have never been shown in the US (they are North American premieres), and a great many of them will feature English subtitles for the very first time.

Duvivier, of course, directed seven films starring his good friend Jean Gabin, and four of them will be screened at MoMa's festival -- not just the ultra-rare La Belle equipe (1936), but also Pepe Le Moko (1937), La Bandera (1935), and Voici le temps des assassins (1956). While Gabin is mostly known in the United States for his collaborations with Jean Renoir and Marcel Carne, another of his great collaborators was Julien Duvivier, a great visual stylist who often peppered his films with some pretty edgy/trippy/hypnotic proto-David Lynch visual moments. (La Belle equipe and Voici le temps des assassins have been out of circulation in America for decades, and neither film has ever been shown on t.v., or on home video.)

The following, is the Museum of Modern Art's press release, which features the entire schedule. Many of the films will be repeated twice, to give cineastes ample opportunity to screen them. The Jean Gabin titles are in bold type.

Exhibition Features Four Films Starring the Legendary Actor Jean Gabin, Including the Celebrated Pépé le Moko (1937)

Composer Stephen Sondheim Will Introduce Un Carnet de bal (1937) on May 14
Julien Duvivier

May 1 – 28, 2009
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019
Hours: Films are screened Wednesday-Monday. For screening schedules, please visit

New York, April 7, 2009
The widely varied and influential career of French director and screenwriter Julien Duvivier (1896-1967) is rediscovered in "Julien Duvivier," a month-long, 22-film retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, from May 1 through 28, 2009. Working consistently for four decades, both in Europe and Hollywood, in a darkly poetic realist style, Duvivier made popular melodramas, thrillers, religious epics, comedies, wartime propaganda, musicals, and literary adaptations of novels by Emile Zola, Leo Tolstoy, Irène Némirovsky, and Georges Simenon. This exhibition features the New York premieres of four films that have either been recently restored or are shown in Duvivier’s preferred versions, as well as new translations of 14 films.

On May 14, at 8:00 p.m., the composer Stephen Sondheim will introduce Duvivier’s classic sketch film Un Carnet de bal (1937), which he once intended to adapt as a Broadway musical.

The Julien Duvivier retrospective is organized by Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, and Lenny Borger, film historian and translator.

Jean Renoir once proclaimed, “If I were an architect and I had to build a monument to the cinema, I would place a statue of Duvivier above the entrance… This great technician, this rigorist, was a poet.” Duvivier, who was also championed by other estimable filmmakers and writers, including Ingmar Bergman, Claude Chabrol, Graham Greene, Elaine May, Agnès Varda, and Orson Welles, is largely known for his collaborations with the great actor Jean Gabin in the 1930s. This exhibition features four of these classics of French cinema: the recently restored La Bandera (1935); the New York premiere of Duvivier’s preferred, darker ending to La Belle Équipe (1936); Pépé le Moko (1937); and Voici le temps des assassins (1956).

The exhibition’s rare screenings include Duvivier’s adaptation of the Zola novel Au Bonheur des dames (1930), his adaptation of Simenon’s Inspector Maigret story A Man’s Neck (1933), the enchanting La Fête à Henriette (1952), and the silent and sound versions of Poil de carotte (1925 and 1932), a heartbreaking chronicle of childhood. The 1932 sound version of Poil de carotte—Duvivier’s favorite among his films—will be the opening night feature on Friday, May 1, at 7:00 p.m., introduced by co-curator Lenny Borger.

Also featured in the exhibition are the New York premieres of four films: the delightful and revelatory experimental comedy Allo Berlin? Ici Paris! (1932); the newly restored La Bandera (1935); La Belle Equipe (1936), with Duvivier’s preferred tragic ending; and the wartime propaganda film Untel Père et fils (Heart of a Nation) (1943) in its longer, French theatrical version. “Among the French directors of the classic period,” Claude Chabrol recently observed, “Julien Duvivier is my favorite, with Jean Renoir. He was an auteur who didn’t declare himself one.”

The exhibition is made possible, in part, by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, New York.

Press Contacts: Meg Blackburn, (212) 708-9757,
Margaret Doyle, (212) 408-6400,

For downloadable images, please visit
No. 28

Film Admission: $10 adults; $8 seniors, 65 years and over with I.D. $6 full-time students with current I.D. (For admittance to film programs only.) The price of a film ticket may be applied toward the price of a Museum admission ticket when a film ticket stub is presented at the Lobby Information Desk within 30 days of the date on the stub (does not apply during Target Free Friday Nights, 4:00–8:00 p.m.). Admission is free for Museum members and for Museum ticketholders.
The public may call (212) 708-9400 for detailed Museum information. Visit us at

Julien Duvivier

All films are directed by Julien Duvivier and in French, with English subtitles, except The Great Waltz and Anna Karenina (both in English), and The Little World of Don Camillo (in Italian, with English subtitles).

Friday, May 1
7:00 Poil de carotte. 1932. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, based on the story by Jules Renard. With Harry Baur, Robert Lynen, Catherine Fonteney.
With its justifiably famous “wedding” scene of Poil de carotte to a little country girl, this astonishingly sophisticated early sound film is a visual poem of innocence and grace that would inspire René Clément’s Jeux interdits (Forbidden Games) twenty years later. “In a rare example of a remake surpassing its memorable original,” Lenny Borger notes, “Duvivier gave definitive form to this classic chronicle of childhood. Baur plays the father with all his subtle authority and young Lynen cuts deep to the desperate pathos of lonely Poil de Carotte. A film of great tenderness, and lyricism, with a final reconciliation scene between Baur and Lynen to force a sob from the stoniest breast.” 91 min.
Introduced by co-curator Lenny Borger

Saturday, May 2
1:30 Allo Berlin? Ici Paris! 1932. France/Germany. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Rolf E. Vanloo. With Josette Day, Wolfgang Klein, Germaine Aussey.
One of the exhibition’s major rediscoveries, Allo Berlin? reveals a lighter, more experimental side of Duvivier, with a charming sentimentality and hilarious visual and verbal gags to rival those of fellow French filmmaker René Clair. Young switchboard operators in Paris and Berlin meet cute by flirting across telephone lines, national borders, and romance languages in this celebration of continental cosmopolitanism between the wars. 89 min.

5:00 La Tête d’un homme (A Man’s Neck). 1933. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Pierre Calmann, Louis Delaprée, Duvivier, based on the novel by Georges Simenon. With Harry Baur, Valery Inkizhinov, Gaston Jacquet.
“One of the first great screen incarnations of Georges Simenon’s famous sleuth, Inspector Maigret. Only months after Jean Renoir filmed La Nuit de carrefour with his actor brother Pierre, Duvivier passed the pipe to Harry Baur, and the results were just as broodingly electric. Maigret roams crowded Montparnasse cafés and dingy tenements as he plays cat and mouse with a nihilistic, Dostoevskian killer (hauntingly played by Russian émigré actor Valery Inkizhinov). Both a classic film noir and a seminal police procedural” (Borger). 98 min.

8:00 Panique. 1946. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Charles Spaak, based on the novel Les Fiançailles de Monsieur Hire by Georges Simenon. With Michel Simon, Viviane Romance, Max Dalban.
Duvivier’s late masterpiece, a coruscating vision of evil, foreshadows Hitchcock in its tensions and recalls Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Raven and Fritz Lang’s Fury in its themes of small town hysteria and the framing of an innocent man. Michel Simon gives a virtuoso performance as Monsieur Hire, George Simenon’s lonely, voyeuristic bachelor, who falls for a gangster’s seductive moll and is set up for the murder of an old woman. 96 min.

Sunday, May 3
2:30 Poil de carotte. 1925. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, based on the story by Jules Renard. With André Heuzé, Henry Krauss, Charlotte Barbier-Krauss.
Duvivier’s breakthrough film is a heartbreaking, Dickensian story of a country boy, derisively nicknamed “Carrot Top,” who is physically and emotionally abused by his mother and neglected by his father. Recalling two other brilliant, silent-era portraits of childhood suffering—his mentor André Antoine’s Le Coupable (1917) and Jacques Feyder’s Visages d’enfants (1925)— Duvivier imbues his melodrama with a psychological depth, a sensitivity to peasant customs and pastoral light, and a harsh naturalism that transforms the Alpine landscape into a metaphor for loneliness and cruelty. Silent; piano accompaniment. Approx. 108 min.

5:30 Poil de carotte. 1932. (See Friday, May 1, 7:00.)

Monday, May 4
4:30 Poil de carotte. 1925. (See Sunday, May 3, 2:30.)

8:00 Allo Berlin? Ici Paris! 1932. (See Saturday, May 2, 1:30.)

Wednesday, May 6
4:30 La Tête d’un homme (A Man’s Neck). 1933. (See Saturday, May 2, 5:00.)

Thursday, May 7
4:30 La Belle Équipe (They Were Five). 1936. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Charles Spaak. With Jean Gabin, Charles Vanel, Viviane Romance.
Made during the gathering storms of war, economic collapse, and social unrest—and in the same radical cinematic year as Gregory La Cava’s My Man Godfrey and Jean Renoir, Jacques Becker et al.’s La Vie est à Nous—La Belle Équipe has long been considered a celebration of Popular Front ideals of working-class solidarity and universal brotherhood. But the director’s preferred tragic ending, with Viviane Romance’s sexual temptations spelling doom for Jean Gabin and Charles Vanel—shown here in the U.S. for the first time—renders this one of Duvivier’s bleakest masterpieces. Five penniless workers win the lottery and are able to realize their dream of opening a guinguette (café-restaurant and pleasure garden) on the banks of the Marne. Duvivier uses beautifully fluid camerawork, pastoral settings, and popular song to mark their freedom from the crushing defeat of poverty, then sabotages their noble enterprise through a crime of passion. 101 min.

Friday, May 8
4:30 La Bandera. 1935. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Charles Spaak. With Jean Gabin, Annabella, Robert Le Vigan.
Recently restored by the Archives Françaises du Film, Duvivier’s sensuous and brooding Foreign Legion melodrama was a commercial success and made Jean Gabin a star, helping to forge his romantic image, solidified in Pépé le Moko, as the doomed existential antihero haunted by a criminal past and driven toward death. Filmed in Spain and Morocco on the eve of civil war—the original theatrical release was dedicated to “Colonel Franco”—La Bandera is an Orientalist fantasy
infused with the quality of reportage, most notably in the tense chase sequence through the mean streets of Barcelona, about which Alistair Cooke observed, “It looks like an exquisite newsreel taken away and baked brown to give you the feel of the air.” 100 min.

Saturday, May 9
1:30 David Golder. 1930. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, based on the novel by Irène Némirovsky. With Harry Baur, Jackie Monnier, Paule Andral.
Duvivier’s first sound film catapulted him to world renown. In this operatic adaptation of the controversial novel by Irène Némirovsky (the recently rediscovered author of Suite Française), Harry Baur gives a wrenching performance as an immigrant Jewish tycoon who makes money the ruthless and vengeful way, but ends up being bitterly betrayed by his scheming wife and daughter. Exposing man’s rank instincts for hatred, duplicity, and greed, Duvivier shows an unflinching pessimism that would also distinguish later films like La Fin du jour (1939) and Panique (1947). The Nazi murders of Némirovsky and Baur—she in Auschwitz in 1942, and he by the Gestapo in Paris a year later—deepen the film’s tragic dimensions. 86 min.

5:00 Le Tourbillon de Paris (The Whirlwind of Paris). 1927. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, based on the novel La Sarrazine by Germaine Acremant. With Lil Dagover, Léon Bary, Gaston Jacquet.
Dagover, a star of German Expressionist cinema, plays an opera singer who becomes restless in her marriage to an older Scottish lord, and longs to return to the limelight of the Parisian stage. The film’s psychological realism is heightened by Duvivier’s clever use of double exposure to convey the tension between inner thought and outward appearance. Silent; with piano accompaniment. Approx. 108 min.

8:00 La Belle Équipe (They Were Five). 1936. (See Thursday, May 7, 4:30.)

Sunday, May 10
5:00 La Bandera. 1935. (See Friday, May 8, 4:30.)

Monday, May 11
8:00 La Vie miraculeuse de Thérèse Martin. 1929. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Thérèse de Lisieux. With Simone Bourday, André Marnay.
“The most authentic of Duvivier’s religious films, this is a stark and striking biographical account of the late nineteenth-century Carmelite nun who died at age 24 and was canonized. Simone Bourday has genuine adolescent fervor as Theresa and André Marnay is pathetically fine as her father. The sequence of the taking of the veil has extraordinary documentary force. The same material inspired Alain Cavalier’s 1986 masterpiece Thérèse” (Borger). Silent; piano accompaniment. Approx. 113 min.

Wednesday, May 13
4:30 David Golder. 1930. (See Saturday, May 9, 1:30.)

8:00 Au bonheur des dames. 1930. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Noël Renard, based on the novel by Émile Zola. With Dita Parlo, Pierre de Guingand, Armand Bour.
Duvivier’s last silent film is a modern retelling of Zola’s panoramic chronicle of mid-nineteenth-century Parisian society, centering on a small fabric shop struggling to survive in the shadow of a luxury department store. With expressionist shades of Erich von Stroheim and G.W. Pabst (Duvivier worked for a time in the German film industry), Au bonheur captures the rhythms of urban life—and the pleasures of bourgeois consumer culture, with its obsessions with fashion and image—while also creating a stinging portrait of capitalist ruthlessness, class tensions, and sexual competition. Silent; piano accompaniment. Approx. 85 min.

Thursday, May 14
4:30 La Fin du jour (The End of the Day). 1938. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Charles Spaak. With Victor Francen, Michael Simon, Louis Jouvet.
One of French cinema’s most poignant, and caustic, portraits of the world of theater. Duvivier, who got his start as a (failed) actor on the French stage in the 1910s, collaborated with his longtime screenwriting partner Charles Spaak on this story of an old-age home for destitute, forgotten actors who relive past triumphs and defeats even as they fade into obsolescence. Giving credence to Jean-Luc Godard’s claim that in the theater there is life, and in life, theater, Duvivier masterfully contrasts the illusory world on stage with the cold reality of life—and death—off it. In keeping with the film’s elegiac tone, Simon, Jouvet, Francen and other great French actors performing at the peak of their careers, show astonishing subtlety, intelligence, and pathos. 100 min.

8:00 Un Carnet de bal (The Dance Card). 1937. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Henri Jeanson, Yves Mirande, Jean Sarment, Pierre Wolff, Bernard Zimmer. With Françoise Rosay, Harry Baur, Louis Jouvet, Raimu, Fernandel, Pierre Blanchar, Pierre Richard-Willm.
In the first and greatest of all Duvivier’s portmanteau films, a rich widow seeks to discover the fates of the suitors she danced with as a young woman at her first ball. As Graham Greene marveled in his 1937 review, the mood of melancholy nostalgia gives way to farce, tragedy, menace, and then pure annihilating misery as she reunites with a village mayor, a gangster, a priest, the mother of a suicide, and an epileptic abortionist: “The padded and opulent emotions wither before the evil detail: the camera shoots at a slant so that the [abortionist’s] dingy flat rears like a sinking ship….Genuine poverty is in Duvivier’s Marseilles flat—the tin surgical basin, the antiseptic soap, the mechanical illegality and the complete degradation.” 130 min.
Introduced by composer Stephen Sondheim

Friday, May 15
4:30 Pot-Bouille. 1957. France/Italy. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Léo Joannon, Henri Jeanson. With Gérard Philipe, Danielle Darrieux, Dany Carrel, Anouk Aimée.
“A scintillating satire of the discrete charms of the French bourgeoisie under the Second Empire. Returning nearly 30 years later to Zola for his inspiration, Duvivier (again abetted by screenwriter Henri Jeanson) fashions a sardonic comedy that often whirs like a Feydeau farce. The sterling cast is headed by Gérard Philippe as a young provincial on the make in Paris, and Danielle Darrieux as the owner of the drapery shop where he finds employment. Arguably Duvivier’s last major artistic success” (Borger). 115 min.

8:00 La Fin du jour (The End of the Day). 1938. (See Thursday, May 14, 4:30.)

Sunday, May 16
1:30 Pépé le Moko. 1937. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Henri La Barthe, Duvivier. With Jean Gabin, Mireille Balin, Marcel Dalio.
A milestone on the path from Scarface to Casablanca, The Third Man, and The Battle of Algiers, Duvivier’s most influential film stars Jean Gabin as a suave Parisian jewel thief who eludes capture by taking refuge in the Casbah, the shadowy, mysterious, and labyrinthine quarter of Algiers transformed into the exotic, and erotic, Arabian nights of our colonialist imagination. Graham Greene rhapsodized, “I cannot remember [a picture] which has succeeded so admirably in raising the thriller to a poetic level,” and French auteurist André Bazin observed, “With Gabin…death is, after all, at the end of the adventure, implacably awaiting its appointment. The fate of Gabin is precisely to be duped by life.” 94 min.
5:00 Au bonheur des dames. 1930. (See Wednesday, May 13, 8:00.)

8:00 Pot-Bouille. 1957. (See Friday, May 15, 4:30.)

Sunday, May 17
2:30 The Great Waltz. 1938. USA. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Samuel Hoffenstein, Walter Reisch. With Luise Rainer, Fernand Gravet, Miliza Korjus.
Duvivier made his Hollywood debut with this opulent MGM musical—said to be a favorite of Stalin’s!—about the romantic, early years of composer Johan Strauss, written by the émigrés Gottfried Reinhardt and Samuel Hoffenstein and gorgeously photographed by the Oscar-winning Joseph Ruttenberg. Attempting to capture the lilting rhythms and charms of Strauss’s waltzes and operas (set here to lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and performed by the Viennese-born soprano diva Miliza Korjus), Duvivier moved from lavish set piece to lavish set piece, in the café, the garden, the palace, and the opera house—leading one critic to call the film “a symphony in soft focus”—before Josef von Sternberg stepped in to direct the wonderfully kitschy final sequence, the carriage ride through the Viennese woods when Strauss was inspired by birdsong to write The Blue Danube. 103 min.

5:30 Anna Karenina. 1948. Great Britain. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Jean Anouilh, Duvivier, Guy Morgan. With Vivien Leigh, Ralph Richardson, Kieron Moore.
“The multiplicity of pronunciations of ‘Karenina’ by various people is a trifle distracting,” a Variety reviewer observed in 1948, in one of many critical drubbings of the film. And yet—and yet—Duvivier’s screen adaptation of Tolstoy, one of British producer Alexander Korda’s most lavish postwar productions (and biggest flops), has its irresistible pleasures: the great Henri Alekan’s moodily atmospheric cinematography, Russian designer Andrej Andrejew’s set designs and Cecil Beaton’s costumes, Ralph Richardson’s magisterial Karenin, and Vivien Leigh’s desperate performance as the doomed heroine, less icy than Greta Garbo’s earlier film interpretations and heralding her Blanche DuBois three years later. 139 min.

Monday, May 18
8:00 Pépé le Moko. 1937. (See Saturday, May 16, 1:30.)

Wednesday, May 20
4:30 Anna Karenina. 1948. (See Sunday, May 17, 5:30.)

8:00 The Great Waltz. 1938. (See Sunday, May 17, 2:30.)

Thursday, May 21
4:30 Untel père et fils (Heart of a Nation). 1940. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. With Louis Jouvet, Michèle Morgan, Raimu, Suzy Prim, Louis Jourdan.
Shortly before the Nazi occupation of Paris and his own exile in America, Duvivier made this rousing, patriotic account of a single French family living across several generations under the specter of three German military invasions. Considered one of Duvivier’s most unsung achievements, the film survived Nazi orders that it be destroyed, and anticipates David Lean and Noël Coward’s This Happy Breed, made four years later, in capturing family life on the home front, from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to the drole de guerre (while ignoring, as several critics noted, some of the darker aspects of French social history, including the Dreyfus Affair and the Action française). 110 min.

7:00 Sous le ciel de Paris (Under Paris Skies). 1950. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, René Lefèvre. With Brigitte Auber, Daniel Ivernel, Jean Brochard.
In Duvivier’s valentine to Paris, a dead body floats down the Seine, an open heart beats on the surgical table, an old spinster lives in a garret full of starving cats, a sculptor can scarcely conceal his murderous impulses, and yet it is the romantic pursuits of a young medical student, a photographer’s model, and a country girl that fill the air with an intoxicating joy. From dawn to dusk to dawn, the passionate, comical, tragic, and sinister lives of six Parisians intersect through fate and chance. The film’s beloved and bittersweet title song, later immortalized by Edith Piaf and Yves Montand, and the street photography throughout early 1950s Paris, render this an unacknowledged forerunner to the French New Wave. 110 min.

Friday, May 224:30 La Vie miraculeuse de Thérèse Martin. 1929. (See Monday, May 11, 8:00.)

8:00 Voici le temps des assassins (Deadlier than the Male). 1956. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Charles Dorat, Maurice Bessy. With Jean Gabin, Danièle Delorme, Robert Arnoux, Gérard Blain.
“Duvivier’s darkest study of moral depravity, this is a harrowing drama of a successful restauranteur (Gabin) who takes in and marries a young angel-faced orphan (Delorme), only to discover she is the conniving daughter of his vengeful ex-wife. The film marked the definitive screen gentrification of Gabin, now in his fifties and destined to play middle-class patriarchs and gentlemen gangsters. Robert Gys’s studio reconstruction of the Halles food market is a masterpiece of production design” (Borger). 114 min.

Saturday, May 23
1:30 Untel père et fils (Heart of a Nation). 1940. (See Thursday, May 21, 4:30.)

5:00 Un Carnet de bal (The Dance Card). 1937. (See Thursday, May 14, 8:00.)

8:00 La Fête à Henriette (Holiday for Henrietta). 1952. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Henri Jeanson. With Dany Robin, Michel Auclair.
In this enchanting classic, beloved by filmmakers like Agnès Varda, Elaine May, and Woody Allen and remade in Hollywood as Paris When It Sizzles, Duvivier and
longtime writing partner Henri Jeanson send up the timeless clash between comedy and drama while also parodying their own screenwriting habits, particularly in Sous le ciel de Paris. Two scriptwriters argue about the fate of Henrietta, a charming and gamine shopgirl. One favors a comical path for their heroine, who is overcome with sentimental love for a young photographer on Bastille Day. The other has a more thrilling and dastardly fate in mind for her. Among the film’s irresistible conceits is Hildegarde Knef as an oversexed circus bareback rider. 118 min.

Sunday, May 24
2:00 Le Petit Monde de Don Camillo (The Little World of Don Camillo). 1951. France/Italy. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, René Barjavel, based on the stories of Giovanni Guareschi. With Fernandel, Gino Cervi, Vera Talchi.
A true French blockbuster, the first in a series of satirical films based on Giovanni Guareschi’s beloved stories, with the great comic actor Fernandel in top form as a famous priest who engages in a battle of cosmic proportions with the parish’s Communist mayor. Duvivier finds wit and warmth—as well as the chance for unity and understanding—in warring ideologies. In Italian, English subtitles. 107 min.

5:00 Voici le temps des assassins (Deadlier than the Male). 1956. (See Friday, May 22, 8:00.)

Monday, May 25
7:00 Le Petit Monde de Don Camillo (The Little World of Don Camillo). 1951. (See Sunday, May 24, 2:00.)

Thursday, May 28
8:00 La Fête à Henriette (Holiday for Henrietta). 1952. (See Saturday, May 23, 8:00.)