Monday, 31 July 2017

Jeanne Moreau Passes On

Legendary French actress Jeanne Moreau died today at the age of 89.

Jeanne Moreau was born on January 23 1928 in Paris, France. Her father was the owner of a hotel and restaurant in Paris. Her mother was a dancer who had performed at the Folies Bergère. She decided to become an actress when as a teenager she saw her first play, Antigone. She studied acting at the Conservatoire National d’Art Dramatique. Miss Moreau became a member of the Comédie-Française when she was 20, making her the youngest ever full member of the theatre. She made her debut as a professional actress in  Ivan Turgenev's A Month in the Country. She made her film debut in Dernier amour in 1949. She also appeared in the films Meurtres (1950) and Pigalle-Saint-Germain-des-Prés (1950). She joined the Théâtre National Populaire.

In the Fifties she appeared in such films as L'homme de ma vie (1952), Julietta (1953), Touchez pas au grisbi (1954), Secrets d'alcôve (1954), Queen Margot (1954), Les hommes en blanc (1955), Le salaire du péché (1956), Les louves (1957), and Trois jours à vivre (1957). It would be the late Fifties that would see Jeanne Moreau's career take off. In 1958 she starred in Louis Malle's Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows in English). The same year she appeared in Mr. Malle's Les amants (The Lovers in English). Towards the end of the decade Miss Moreau appeared in such films as Les liaisons dangereuses (1959), Le dialogue des Carmélites (1960), and Moderato cantabile (1960). She had a cameo in François Truffaut's Les quatre cents coups (1959--known in English as The 400 Blows).

The Sixties would see Jeanne Moreau appear in what might be her most famous role, that of Catherine in Jules et Jim (1962). She also appeared in such notable films as La Notte (1961), Le procès (1962--in English The Trial), Eva (1962), Le journal d'une femme de chambre (1964--in English Diary of a Chambermaid), The Train (1964), Chimes at Midnight (1965), Viva Maria! (1965), Le plus vieux métier du monde (1967--English title The Oldest Profession), La mariée était en noir (1968--English title The Bride Wore Black), The Deep (1970). and Monte Walsh (1970).

In the Seventies Miss Moreau appeared in such films as Chère Louise (1972), Nathalie Granger (1972), Les Valseuses (1974), Joanna Francesa (1975), Hu-Man (1975), Mr. Klein (1976), The Last Tycoon (1976),  and Chansons souvenirs (1980). She also appeared on television, in the teleplay La chevauchée sur le lac de Constance (1974) and an episode of the TV show Arena.

In the Eighties she appeared in the films Plein sud (1981), Your Ticket Is No Longer Valid (1981), Mille milliards de dollars (1982), Querelle (1982), La Truite (The Trout) (1982), Le paltoquet (1986), Le miraculé (1987), Jour après jour (1989), and Nikita (1990). She appeared in the TV show Shades of Darkness and the mini-series Le tiroir secret.

In the Nineties she appeared in the films La vieille qui marchait dans la mer (1991--in English The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea), Bis ans Ende der Welt (1991), Map of the Human Heart (1992),  L'absence (1992), Al di là delle nuvole (1995), I Love You, I Love You Not (1996), Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998), and Il manoscritto del principe (2000). She appeared in the TV films Catherine the Great (1996) and Balzac (1999), as well as the mini-series Les Misérables.

In the Naughts Miss Moreau appeared in such films as Cet amour-là (2001), Les parents terribles (2003), Autogram (2005), Le temps qui reste (2005), Go West (2005), Roméo et Juliette (2006), Disengagement (2007), Plus Tard (2008), and Visage (2009). She appeared on television in the mini-series Les rois maudits, TV movie La contessa di Castiglione (2006), and an episode of Collection Fred Vargas.

In the Teens Jeanne Moreau starred in the TV series Le tourbillon de Jeanne. She appeared in the films Une Estonienne à Paris (2012) and Gebo et l'ombre (2012). Her last appearance on screen was in Le talent de mes amis in 2015.

Jeanne Moreau also had a very successful career on stage. In 1954 she appeared in a production of Jean Cocteau's La Machine Infernale. In the Seventies she appeared in such plays as La chevauchée sur le lac de Constance and Lulu. In 1988 she won the Molière award for her performance in Le Récit de la Servante Zerline. In the Sixties she released several record albums.

Jeanne Moreau directed films as well as starred in them. She directed the drama Lumiere (1976), the drama L'adolescente (1979), and the documentary Lillian Gish (1983).

Perhaps no other actress is as identified with the French New Wave as Jeanne Moreau was. This should not be surprising, as she appeared in some of the best known films to emerge from the movement, including Ascenseur pour l'échafaud, Les amants, and Jules et Jim. If she was very much in demand by the directors of the French New Wave, it was perhaps because of her extraordinary talent. Miss Moreau was less of a movie star than she was a character actress. Quite simply, she could play any role given to her and she could play it well. She was the mercurial Catherine in Jules et Jim. She was the bored housewife in Les amants. In The Bride Wore Black she was the vengeful bride of the title. Miss Moreau could play nearly anything, from the manipulative chambermaid in Le journal d'une femme de chambre to a grandmother in her final film, Le talent de mes amis. It is little wonder that her career spanned  70 years. Jeanne Moreau was truly one of the great actress of European cinema.

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