Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Anouk Aimee trio

Anouk Aimee, born in 1932 and still appearing in films in her 70s, is the enigma of French and international cinema. Others – Signoret, Moreau – may have got the awards and the acclaim but Anouk still fascinates and continues on her mysterious way. She could have been a very big star indeed by the late 60s but she wasn’t really that interested ….as by then she had married Albert Finney. She is one of those stars like Catherine Deneuve who just got into the movies without any great desire to be a great actress, but was always an alluring beauty since her teens in films like THE GOLDEN SALAMANDER and LES DRAGUEURS (reviewed a few posts back...)

Few movies were bigger at the dawn of the '60s than Fellini’s LA DOLCE VITA where she is Maddelena, the sometimes lover of Marcello. There is that long rambling sequence of them in the car where they really are one of the most effortlessly glamorous couples in the movies.
Then in 1961 came the beauty that is LOLA, Jacques Demy’s valentine to the movies with Anouk at her most vibrant and animated in perhaps the most likeable film of the French new wave. Demy’s magical story shows that one person's happy ending is often another's missed possibility of happiness. Raoul Coutard's lovingly shot black and white widescreen photography of Nantes is a plus, as Lola sings and dances and waits for her lover to return, in what was a key movie for both Demy and Aimee. Right: Anouk in Demy's THE MODEL SHOP, supposedly Lola in Los Angeles in 1969, a very counterculture late '60s movie.Then in 1966, another enormous hit: UN HOMME ET UNE FEMME, Claude Lelouch’s mega-hit which earned Aimee a best actress nod from the Academy, but of course it was (deservedly this time) Elizabeth Taylor’s year. A dubbed version, A MAN AND A WOMAN, did the rounds and it was a great date movie showing these glamorous, getaway people of the new affluent '60s enjoying themselves in their cars and boats. All Anouk really had to do was look wonderful, forever pushing her hair back, around Deauville and Paris to Francis Lai’s score (it was a best-selling soundtrack album too, I played it all the time, particularly that samba sequence). It was Best Foreign Film of the year at that time when international cinema was very popular and this was certainly a romantic treat with their hands touching on the boat, the walks on the beach, that old man and his dog, the cute kids etc. Trintignant is the motor racing hero and Pierre Barouh (playing her husband) who sings the “Samba Saravah” number was Aimee’s husband at the time.
It is on YouTube at:, 1969, has been unseen for decades but it was a treat to get a copy recently, an enjoyable 20th Century Fox version of the Durrell books set in Alexandria and rather a botched movie. It was began in Tunisia with director Philip Strick, but the project was then recalled to the Fox lot in California, with George Cukor taking over. Cukor and Aimee had one of the famous feuds, as they did not get on AT ALL. The fascinating cast though has Dirk Bogarde giving another terrific performance as Pursewarden, young Michael York as Darnley the narrator who falls in love with the mysterious Justine, also Anna Karina, John Vernon, Philippe Noiret and Cliff Gorman as one of those dancing girls. I just like the look of the film, those mysterious locations and Aimee being very enigmatic, looking alluring with that little girl voice, she seems incommunicative though, as though she does not want to be there – it was silly though to use the nude body double seen in long shot for the beach scene with the horses. Leon Shamroy makes it all look terrific and there is a nice score by Jerry Goldsmith; it was great to see it again recently after a 40 year gap of it not being available. It really has the look and texture almost of a Von Sternberg picture, and remains one of the great good bad movies.Anouk keeps working, including mini-series like SOLOMON and NAPOLEON and Altman's misfire PRET A PORTER, but will always be the alluring star of the '50s and '60s, and is certainly one of the great French actresses. I have just got one of her '90s ones to watch: FESTIVAL AT CANNES. I did a fuller appreciation on her on IMDb at:

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