Louis Malle


Director
Louis Malle

About

Birth Place
France
Born
October 30, 1932
Died
November 23, 1995
Cause of Death
Lymphoma

Biography

One of the most consistently innovative and risk-taking filmmakers of his generation, Louis Malle directed a number of critically acclaimed films both in his native France and the United States, but rarely received the attention that his work commanded. Malle first made a splash for his award-winning documentary with Jacques Cousteau, "Le Monde du silence" (1955), and made an effective t...

Photos & Videos

Pretty Baby - Lobby Card Set
Elevator to the Gallows - Movie Poster
Spirits of the Dead - Pressbook

Family & Companions

Maxime de la Falaise
Companion
Had two.
Maxime de la Falaise
Companion
Born in 1922; had relationship in the mid-1950s for approximately three years.
Jeanne Moreau
Companion
Three; survived him.
Jeanne Moreau
Companion
Actor. Were romantically involved during shooting of "Elevator to the Gallows" (1957) and "The Lovers" (1958).

Bibliography

"Louis Malle par Louis Malle"
Louis Malle (1978)

Biography

One of the most consistently innovative and risk-taking filmmakers of his generation, Louis Malle directed a number of critically acclaimed films both in his native France and the United States, but rarely received the attention that his work commanded. Malle first made a splash for his award-winning documentary with Jacques Cousteau, "Le Monde du silence" (1955), and made an effective transition to narrative filmmaking with "Elevator to the Gallows" (1957) and the controversial drama "The Lovers" (1958). He went on to helm the masterful character drama "The Fire Within" (1963) and had a major international success with the one-of-a-kind documentary series "Phantom India" (1969). After oscillating between French-made documentaries and features throughout the 1970s, Malle made his American debut with the highly charged, but ultimately mundane "Pretty Baby" (1978), before faring much better with the atmospheric crime drama "Atlantic City" (1980), which earned him his only Best Director nomination at the Academy Awards. From there, he directed his most creatively daring film, "My Dinner with Andre" (1984), returned to France for the explicitly autobiographical "Au Revoir les enfants" (1987), and ended his career - which was cut short by cancer - with the clever "Vanya on 42nd Street" (1994). From undersea documentaries to romantic thrillers; from exposés on poverty to extended dinner conversations, Malle's work could hardly have been more diverse, challenging and worthy of the highest praise.

Born on Oct. 30, 1932 in Thumeries, Nord, France, Malle was raised in a wealthy family by his father, Pierre, a former naval officer who became the director of a sugar refinery, and his mother, Francoise, the heiress to a sugar fortune. He initially studied political science at the Institut d'etudes politiques, Sorbonne, University of Paris, but became interested in film and transferred his studies to the Institut des hautes etudes cinématographiques (IDHEC). Malle began his career working with famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau on "Le Monde du silence" (1955), which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. He also assisted Robert Bresson on "A Condemned Man Escapes" (1956). His first feature was a stylish commercial thriller, "Elevator to the Gallows" (1957), and he gained international recognition the next year with "The Lovers" (1958), a study of upper-class ennui which featured a dazzling performance by Jeanne Moreau - with whom he was romantically involved at the time - and a degree of sexual frankness that sparked years of outrage. He went on to direct "Zazie dans le metro" (1960), a comedy about a foul-mouthed preteen, before returning to documentary filmmaking with "Vive le Tour" (1962), an examination of that year's Tour de France.

Returning to narrative films, Malle directed a young Brigitte Bardot in the May-December romantic drama "A Very Private Affair" (1962), also starring Marcello Mastroianni, and had another early triumph with "The Fire Within" (1963), a masterful study of the mental disintegration of a recovering alcoholic (Maurice Ronet) searching for a reason to continue living. After directing Bardot and Moreau in the engaging adventure comedy "Viva Maria!" (1965), Malle stumbled with the predictable crime comedy "Le Voleur" (1967) and the costume horror drama "Spirits of the Dead" (1968), an anthology film of Edgar Allen Poe adaptations co-directed by Roger Vadim and Federico Fellini. Malle went back to documentaries and directed his crowning achievement in the form with "Phantom India" (1969), a massive six-plus hour series exploring in epic detail life in India circa 1968. Originally shown on French television, the documentary series covered a wide range of topics - from Bombay to the caste system - and spawned an off-shoot documentary, "Calcutta" (1969), that was shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

Malle followed up his non-fiction triumph with the accomplished sex farce "A Very Curious Girl" (1969) and managed to stir more controversy with "Murmur of the Heart" (1971), a light coming-of-age sex comedy that delved a bit into incest. After the rather minor man-on-the-street documentary "Place de la Republique" (1974), he once again courted controversy - this time of a political nature - with "Lacombe Lucien" (1974), a stark drama about the German occupation of France during World War II that was one of the first films to suggest that not all Frenchmen were in league with the resistance. The film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. After decades of making films in France, Malle made his American debut with "Pretty Baby" (1978), which starred Brooke Shields as the product of a prostitute mother (Susan Sarandon) who is raised in a turn of the century New Orleans brothel and decides to adopt her mother's profession. Despite the charged subject matter and the controversy of an actual underage actress playing a lust object, Malle's rather mundane approach made critics and audiences shrug. On a personal note, the director began a romantic entanglement with Sarandon, which would last only two years.

Though he had an inauspicious U.S. debut, Malle followed with an outstanding second American film, "Atlantic City" (1980), an atmospheric crime drama about an aging has-been gangster (Burt Lancaster), who falls for a casino croupier (Sarandon) after her husband steal drugs from the mob and is killed. The film was highly praised by critics and earned Malle his only Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Malle followed up with "My Dinner with Andre" (1981), a lengthy conversation between playwright Wallace Shawn and director Andre Gregory that turns into an unexpectedly engaging treatise on politics and society. By this point, Malle had married second wife, actress Candice Bergen, in 1980. The couple would remain together until his death. Meanwhile, he directed Donald Sutherland and Sean Penn in the easily dismissed caper comedy "Crackers" (1984) before turning back to documentaries with the heartwarming "God's Country" (PBS, 1986). After a decade-long absence, he returned to France to direct "Au Revoir les enfants" (1987), an explicitly autobiographical work about boyhood friendships and betrayal during the German Occupation, arguably his most successful film in terms of public and critical response. The film won a number of prominent festival awards and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

Malle went on to helm the slight, but diverting comedy "May Fools" (1990), which was set in the French countryside during the 1968 student riots in Paris. From there, he directed Miranda Richardson and Jeremy Irons in the British production "Damage" (1992), an erotic thriller about deceit and sexual obsession. Malle again collaborated with actor Wallace Shawn and director Andre Gregory on what was to be his last film, "Vanya on 42nd Street" (1994), an interpretation of Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" about a troupe of actors rehearsing the play in the dilapidated New Amsterdam Theater in New York City. Scripted by David Mamet, the film was a clever take on Chekhov's play and proved to be the director's swan song. Malle had been quietly battling lymphoma and succumbed to the cancer in his Beverly Hills home, surrounded by his wife and family, on Nov. 23, 1995, which happened to be Thanksgiving Day. He was 63 years old.

By Shawn Dwyer

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)
Director
Damage (1992)
Director
May Fools (1990)
Director
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987)
Director
God's Country (1986)
Director
Alamo Bay (1985)
Director
Crackers (1984)
Director
My Dinner with Andre (1981)
Director
Atlantic City (1980)
Director
Pretty Baby (1978)
Director
Black Moon (1975)
Director
Place de la Republique (1974)
Director
Lacombe, Lucien (1974)
Director
Humain, trop humain (1973)
Director
Murmur of the Heart (1971)
Director
Le Souffle au coeur (1971)
Director
Spirits of the Dead (1969)
Director of "William Wilson"
Phantom India (1969)
Director
Calcutta (1969)
Director
The Thief of Paris (1967)
Director
Viva Maria (1965)
Director
The Fire Within (1964)
Director
A Very Private Affair (1962)
Director
Zazie Dans Le Metro (1960)
Director
Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
Director
The Lovers (1958)
Director
The Silent World (1956)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Who Is Henry Jaglom? (1997)
Himself
La Vie de Boheme (1992)
Gentleman
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987)
Narrator
God's Country (1986)
Narrator
De Weg Naar Bresson (1984)
Himself
Before the Nickelodeon: The Early Cinema Of Edwin S. Porter (1982)
Voice
Place de la Republique (1974)
Himself
A Very Curious Girl (1970)
Jesus
Calcutta (1969)
Narrator
A Very Private Affair (1962)
Journalist

Cinematography (Feature Film)

God's Country (1986)
Cinematographer
Mort d'un Guide (1975)
Cinematographer
Humain, trop humain (1973)
Director Of Photography
Calcutta (1969)
Cinematographer
Phantom India (1969)
Cinematographer

Writer (Feature Film)

May Fools (1990)
From Story
May Fools (1990)
Screenplay
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987)
Screenplay
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987)
Writer (Dialogue)
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987)
Writer (Adaptation)
Pretty Baby (1978)
Story By
Pretty Baby (1978)
From Story
Black Moon (1975)
Screenplay
Lacombe, Lucien (1974)
Screenplay
Place de la Republique (1974)
Writer
Murmur of the Heart (1971)
Screenplay
Spirits of the Dead (1969)
Screenplay for "William Wilson"
Calcutta (1969)
Screenwriter
The Thief of Paris (1967)
Screenwriter
Viva Maria (1965)
Screenwriter
The Fire Within (1964)
Screenwriter
A Very Private Affair (1962)
Screenwriter
Zazie Dans Le Metro (1960)
Screenwriter
Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
Adaptation
The Lovers (1958)
Screenwriter
The Silent World (1956)
Screenplay

Producer (Feature Film)

Damage (1992)
Producer
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987)
Coproducer
Alamo Bay (1985)
Producer
Pretty Baby (1978)
Producer
Lacombe, Lucien (1974)
Producer
Humain, trop humain (1973)
Producer
The Thief of Paris (1967)
Producer
Viva Maria (1965)
Producer
Zazie Dans Le Metro (1960)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Viva Maria (1965)
Composer

Art Director (Feature Film)

Le combat dans l'ile (1962)
Art Direction Supervision

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

A Man Escaped (1956)
Production Assistant

Production Companies (Feature Film)

Young Torless (1968)
Company
Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
Company

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Who Is Henry Jaglom? (1997)
Other
De Weg Naar Bresson (1984)
Other
Calcutta (1969)
Other
Phantom India (1969)
Other

Director (Special)

And the Pursuit of Happiness (1986)
Director

Cast (Special)

And the Pursuit of Happiness (1986)
Narrator

Cinematography (Special)

And the Pursuit of Happiness (1986)
Cinematographer

Writer (Special)

And the Pursuit of Happiness (1986)
Screenplay

Producer (Special)

And the Pursuit of Happiness (1986)
Producer

Special Thanks (Special)

And the Pursuit of Happiness (1986)
Screenplay

Director (Short)

Vive le Tour! (1962)
Director

Cast (Short)

The Lion Roars Again (1975)
Himself
Vive le Tour! (1962)
Narrator

Cinematography (Short)

Vive le Tour! (1962)
Cinematographer

Writer (Short)

Vive le Tour! (1962)
Screenplay

Life Events

1954

Directorial debut doing underwater sequences, "The House on the Waterfront"

1954

Began working with Jacques Cousteau as assistant director, "Calypso cap au sud"

1957

Feature film directing debut and screenplay adaptation, "Elevator to the Gallows"

1958

Directed and scripted breakthrough film, "The Lovers"

1978

US feature film debut, "Pretty Baby"

1995

Diagnosed with an invasive lymphoma that broke down his immune system and attacked his brain

Photo Collections

Pretty Baby - Lobby Card Set
Pretty Baby - Lobby Card Set
Elevator to the Gallows - Movie Poster
Elevator to the Gallows - Movie Poster
Spirits of the Dead - Pressbook
Here is the original campaign book (pressbook) for AIP's anthology horror film Spirits of the Dead (1968), starring Jane and Peter Fonda. Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.

Videos

Movie Clip

Elevator To The Gallows (1958) - Don't Sneer At War Ex-paratrooper Julien (Maurice Ronet) has snuck out his office window, now makes his approach to his arms dealer boss Carala (Jean Wall), who's also the husband of his lover, with Miles Davis' score, in Louis Malle's Elevator To The Gallows, 1958.
Elevator To The Gallows (1958) - He Got Cold Feet Paris teens Louis (Georges Poujouly) and Veronique (Yori Bertin) snatch the car belonging to Julien, who's stuck in an elevator, as his lover and murder accomplice Florence (Jeanne Moreau) waits nearby, in Louis Malle's Elevator To The Gallows, 1958.
Elevator To The Gallows (1958) - Then We'll Be Free Director Louis Malle's famous close up of Jeanne Moreau (as "Florence") in the film that made her a star, on the phone with lover Julien (Maurice Ronet), Miles Davis' score creeping in, opening Elevator To The Gallows, 1958.
Lacombe, Lucien (1974) - A Rich And Stingy Jew Having casually ingratiated himself with the local Nazi collaborators, farm-boy Pierre Blaise (title character) is introduced by Vichy youth Jean (Stephane Bouy) to the Jewish tailor (Holger Lowenadler) who gets relative safety in exchange for his services, in Louis Malle’s Lacombe, Lucien, 1974.
Lacombe, Lucien (1974) - I Should Have Been An Actor In southwestern France, 1944, conducting regular business with the local Nazi sympathizers, Pierre Blaise (the politically indifferent title character) with Jean-Bernard (Stephane Bouy) faking an injury, tricking a vacationing doctor and his family, in Louis Malle’s Lacombe, Lucien, 1974.
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987) - We're Not Sissies First night back from holiday at a Paris-area boarding school, 1944, Julien (Gasparde Manesse) and friends introduced by Father Jean (Philippe Morier-Genoud) to new student Jean (Raphael Fejto), in Louis Malle's Au Revoir, Les Enfants, 1987.
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987) - First Prize In Arithmetic At a boarding school in Nazi-occuipied France, 1944, after mail call, Julien (Gaspard Manesse) in the dorm reading his mother's letter, discovers the real Jewish last-name of his new friend Jean (Raphael Fejto), in Louis Malle's Au Revoir, Les Enfants, 1987.
Zazie Dans Le Metro (1960) - I'll Make Their Lives Hell Arrived in Paris, at the apartments of Uncle Gabriel (Philippe Noiret), the title character (Catherine Demongeot) meets the landlord (Hubert Deschamps) and Mado (Annie Fratellini) and Albertine (Carla Marlier), director Louis Malle borrowing New Wave tricks, in Zazie Dans Le Metro, 1960.
Zazie Dans Le Metro (1960) - Are You A Hormosessual? From director Louis Malle’s Eiffel Tower sequence, the title character (Catherine Demongeot), visiting Paris, is more pursued than accompanied by Uncle Gabriel (Philippe Noiret) and their cabbie pal Charles (Antoine Robiot), with deliberate jokes in the subtitles, in Zazie Dans Le Metro, 1960.
Zazie Dans Le Metro (1960) - You Smell Funny Louis Malle’s opening, chat about body odor in the Gare de l’Est, from Philippe Noiret as Parisian Uncle Gabriel, meeting the title character (Catherine Demongeot) and her mother (Odette Picquet), in the director’s comical raid on his New Wave contemporaries, Zadie Dans Le Metro, 1960.
Zazie Dans Le Metro (1960) - Mussels And Fries The title character (Catherine Demongeot) has slipped her minders on her Paris visit but is being pursued by Trouscallion (Vittorio Caprioli), whom we will learn is a policeman, and imparts a tale that drew some commentary at the time, in Louis Malle’s nutty Zazie Dans Le Metro, 1960.
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987) - Turns Your Brains To Mush Secretly Jewish new kid Jean (Raphael Fejto) outstanding in math class, interrupted by an Allied air raid on Nazi-occupied Paris, getting paired with new friend and rival Julien (Gaspard Manesse) in the shelter, in Louis Malle's Au Revoir, Les Enfants, 1987.

Trailer

Family

Pierre Malle
Father
Had two.
Pierre Malle
Father
Naval officer later became director of wife's sugar refineries.
Francoise Malle
Mother
Had two other children; survived her.
Francoise Malle
Mother
Heiress of sugar fortune.
Vincent Malle
Brother
Horse breeder.
Vincent Malle
Brother
Producer. Older; married to actor Dorothy Lyman; survived him.
Cuathemoc Malle
Son
Born c. 1971; mother, German actor Gila von Weitershausen; survived him.
Justine Malle
Daughter
Survived him.
Justine Malle
Daughter
Born c. 1974; mother, actor Alexandra Stewart was not married to Malle; survived him.
Chloe Malle
Daughter
Mother, Frances Rudge.
Chloe Malle
Daughter
Born 1985; mother, Candice Bergen; survived him.

Companions

Maxime de la Falaise
Companion
Had two.
Maxime de la Falaise
Companion
Born in 1922; had relationship in the mid-1950s for approximately three years.
Jeanne Moreau
Companion
Three; survived him.
Jeanne Moreau
Companion
Actor. Were romantically involved during shooting of "Elevator to the Gallows" (1957) and "The Lovers" (1958).
Anne-Marie Deschodt
Wife
Had three.
Anne-Marie Deschodt
Wife
Married in 1965; divorced in 1967.
Gila von Weitershausen
Companion
Had 14 grandchildren; survived her.
Gila von Weitershausen
Companion
Actor. German; mother of Malle's son.
Alexandra Stewart
Companion
Kaufmann was also married during the time he was involved with Fassbinder.
Alexandra Stewart
Companion
Actor. Mother ot Justine Malle.
Susan Sarandon
Companion
Divorced.
Susan Sarandon
Companion
Actor. Together in the 1970s.
Candice Bergen
Wife
Mother, Frances Rudge.
Candice Bergen
Wife
Actor. Second wife; married in 1980; survived him.

Bibliography

"Louis Malle par Louis Malle"
Louis Malle (1978)