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.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Alain Delon: "a bit of alright" says Edith ...

We have not done a piece on Alain for a while, but there are lots on him here, as per the label .....
I mentioned before that Engish film magazine "Films and Filming" I used to get, and work for, and have now got all the 1950s issues (it began in Oct 1954 and folded in 1980, as per a forthcoming piece on all that), each issue featured a column on a "Person of Promise" and I have covered some already (Lee Remick, Stephen Boyd, Belinda Lee, James Garner, Carol Lynley, Shirley Eaton, Shirley McLaine etc). Their May 1959 issue (one of the rare ones I got just now) features that interesting young French actor Alain Delon, then making a name for himself. Its rather delicious:

Alain Delon is 23. Edith Piaf, the nightclub entertainer, described him recently with these words: "Une belle petite eule", which roughly translated means "He's a bit of alright". From the colloquial to the rather more sublime comes this quote on young M. Delon from the actor Bernard Blier: "He has balance, a calm and wholesome insolence, respect for professional tradition, scorn for upstart authority and a taste for a violent, short, intense life".  (Well, they were wrong on that count, Delon is 80 this November) .
All of which goes to show that French Cinema has a virile youngster who appeals to women and men alike, to the professional artist and the audience who have come to watch him.
Alain is at pains to assure those who want to pigeon-hole him into a convenient type that he is not, and has no intention of becoming, the "French James Dean". Whether he likes it or not Alain has the same appeal that endeared the late Dean to the bosoms of his fans.
Born in a suburb of Paris, Alain showed little interest in a career in show business during his teens. At 17 he enlisted in the forces and was sent to Indo-China to fight in the sweltering jungle in the war against the rebels. After two years of this murderous campaign he was released. 
It was at this time that Yves Allegret was looking for a young actor to play in QUAND LA FEMME S'EN MELE (When a Woman Interferes). Yves passed the news along to his director brother Marc who starred the actor in his second film SOIS BELLE ET TAIS TOI (Blonde for Danger) opposite Henri Vidal and Mylene Demongeot. At this time he was offered work in the USA but declined. His first starring role came with CHRISTINE opposite Romy Schneider. He also appeared in FAIBLES FEMMES (WOMEN ARE WEAK) in 1959, with Demongeot and two new young actresses Jacqueline Sassard and Francoise Pascal. In FAIBLES FEMMES Delon plays a Don Juan who seduces three girls in turn and they plot their revenge ... 
His hobbies are horse-racing and .... sports cars. Is M. Delon treading the same path as James Dean? It would seem so. 

FAIBLES FEMMES was one of the first French films I saw, when young in Ireland, and I loved that European glamour and decadence, served up in spades of course in Rene Clement's PLEIN SOLEIL (PURPLE NOON) later that year, from Patricia Highsmith but with a twist, as -per my comments on that. Delon soon became the go-to actor after those prestige films with Visconti (ROCCO, THE LEOPARD) and Antonioni (L'ECLISSE). That great European career followed (Melville's LE SAMURAI, BORSALINO with Belmondo etc) and Delon's playboy life made the headlines too, as well as his various romances, including with Romy. Its always a pleasure seeing him with Claudia, Romy, Monica, Marie Laforet and the others, or playing gangsters with Gabin or Montand (MELODIE EN SOUS SOL, SICILIAN CLAN, CERCLE ROUGE etc.. I must get around to his one with Simone Signoret soon...
It all began when fellow actor Jean-Claude Brialy took him to the Cannes Film Festival in 1957, where among others he met were Hollywood agent Henry Willson, and British photograher John Barrington, who took some interesting shots of the young actor (in bed, left).  He was soon on the cover (first of many) in "Films and Filming's" 1961 French issue, in PLEIN SOLEIL. and of course did some Hollywod films. He seems to have aged quite well and working until recently, as per the commentary on the recent PLEIN SOLEIL Blu-ray.  Above: Delon by Barrington in 1957, right, with Belmondo in recent years.

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