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: