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Overview for Christian-Jaque



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Also Known As: Christian Maudet Died: July 8, 1994
Born: September 4, 1904 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Paris, FR Profession: Director ... director set decorator journalist film critic assistant director poster designer


Former film critic (for CINEGRAF magazine), poster artist and art director turned successful director. His feature output, beginning in 1931 with the medium-length feature, "Bidon d'or," has been generally light and much of it fairly routine, but Christian-Jaque was a skilled and supple craftsman with a piquant visual eye who at his best could tell a story with an adult grace and considerable panache. Among Christian-Jaque's most notable films are "Les Pirates du rail" (1937), an exciting railroad melodrama which compares well with Hollywood action standards; the offbeat and poetic "Les Disparus de Saint Agil/Boys' School" (1938) with surrealist touches and a sense of childhood fantasy peppering an unusual mix of satire and murder mystery set at a boys school; "L'Assassinat de Pere Noel/Who Killed Santa Claus?" (1941), another strangely dreamlike film, with dark undertones, about the disappearance of an elderly storytelling mapmaker; and "Boule de suif" (1945), a handsomely wrought and intelligent retelling of Guy de Maupassant's story of the disparate effects a prostitute has on a motley group of people traveling by coach updated to WWII.

After the war Christian-Jaque made what was perhaps his best remembered (and certain one of his most popular films), the very highly regarded spoof of swashbuckling movies and heroic posturing, "Fanfan-la Tulipe/Fanfan the Tulip" (1952). From 1950 until 1961, Christian-Jaque became one of France's most commercially successful directors, concocting quite popular, elaborate costume extravaganzas and period romances, filmed in lush color, which feature voluptuous international actresses. Throughout his career he proved to be a fine director of actors, eliciting fine work from such talented players as Fernandel, Erich von Stroheim, Harry Baur, Jean-Louis Barrault, Micheline Presle, Louis Jouvet, Marguerite Moreno, Viveca Lindfors, Michel Auclair, Gerard Philipe, Edwige Feuillere, Pierre Brasseur, Yves Montand, Gina Lollobrigida and Brigitte Bardot. His career slipped a bit as the 60s progressed and in the 1970s he concentrated more on TV work, but Christian-Jaque made occasional features right up until his 1980 documentary portrait of fellow French filmmaker Marcel Carne, "Carne: L'Homme a la camera/Carne: The Man Behind the Camera." Three of his five marriages were to actresses: Simone Renat, Renee Faure and popular 50s star Martine Carol, with whom he made a number of films.

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