Jean-paul Belmondo


Actor
Jean-paul Belmondo

About

Birth Place
France
Born
April 09, 1933

Biography

For generations of French filmgoers and lovers of international cinema, few actors defined the Gallic male on screen more succinctly than Jean-Paul Belmondo. Though rugged and unconventionally handsome, Belmondo's innate charm and physicality captured the world's attention with his turn as a doomed small-time crook in Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless" (1960), one of the vanguards of the Fre...

Family & Companions

Elodie Belmondo
Wife
Ballerina. Married in 1952; divorced in 1967.
Ursula Andress
Companion
Actor.
Laura Antonelli
Companion
Actor.

Bibliography

"Trente ans et vingt-cinq films"
Jean-Paul Belmondo (1963)

Notes

Belmondo's name was in the headlines in Hollywood in April 1996, when he lashed out at the Hollywood studios and distributors. The actor was furious that his film "Desire" was on only 20 screen in France while American films, such as "Toy Story", were on 500. He claimed that French theatre chains were "on their knees before Hollywood. When I hear them talk about defending French cinema, I can only laugh." (The American market share of movie ticket sales in France was 54 percent at the time, compared to only 35 percent for French-made product.)

He reportedly suffered a stroke while on vacation in Corsica in August 2001.

Biography

For generations of French filmgoers and lovers of international cinema, few actors defined the Gallic male on screen more succinctly than Jean-Paul Belmondo. Though rugged and unconventionally handsome, Belmondo's innate charm and physicality captured the world's attention with his turn as a doomed small-time crook in Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless" (1960), one of the vanguards of the French New Wave. The film's global popularity minted him as an icon of cinematic cool, an image he would underscore for the next four decades in arthouse-minded projects like Godard's "Pierrot le Fou" (1965) and Francois Truffaut's "Mississippi Mermaid" (1969). At the same time, he proved himself as a capable and highly athletic action star, often providing his own daring stunts in "That Man from Rio" (1964), "Borsalino" (1970) and "The Professional" (1981). He returned to stage work and more sedate fare in the late 1980s and '90s, earning a Cesar for "Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté" (1988) and high praise for a modern-day take on "Les Misérables" (1995) before suffering a paralyzing stroke. Though physically limited, he returned to features in 2008 for the melancholy "A Man and His Dog" (2008). Though no longer the robust, roguish figure of his youth, Belmondo's inherent strength and spirit remained intact, providing an inspiring reminder of why he remained a French national treasure for nearly half a century.

Born April 9, 1933 in the Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Jean-Paul Belmondo was the son of sculptor Paul Belmondo. A poor student, he channeled his energies into boxing and football, but by his twenties, decided that acting would be his true calling. He was reluctantly accepted at the Paris Conservatory, whose educators felt that his prospects as a professional actor were slim. Belmondo would spend much of the 1950s in theater before making his screen debut in the 1957 comedy "A pied, a cheval et en voiture" ("On Foot, On Horse and By Carriage"). He eventually worked his way up to starring roles with "Sois Belle et Tais-Toi" ("Be Beautiful But Shut Up") (1957), a crime picture co-starring another up-and-coming leading man, Alain Delon. Belmondo's breakthrough coincided with the rise of the French New Wave cinema. His young, reckless but romantic thief in Jean-Luc Godard's "A bout de soufflé" ("Breathless") (1960) epitomized the movement's rejection of old standards of storytelling and characterization. The film's popularity among young moviegoers on both sides of the Atlantic helped to make Belmondo an international star with the same cultural impact as James Dean or Marlon Brando, with young men adopting his casual slouch and rough-hewn charm.

Belmondo soon became the actor of choice for other New Wave directors, playing daring, forward-thinking young men who challenged the establishment in Vittorio De Sica's "Two Women" (1960) and Jean-Pierre Melville's "Léon Morin, Priest" (1961), which earned him a BAFTA nomination as a young priest who inspired both faith and emotion in Emmanuelle Riva's disillusioned war widow. He would also reunite twice with Godard, first for the musical comedy tribute "A Woman is a Woman" (1961) and later, as the lead in his postmodern, genre-bending "Pierrot le Fou" (1965). At the same time, Belmondo was finding great success as the athletic hero of mainstream features like the period swashbuckler "Cartouche" (1962) with Claudia Cardinale and Philippe De Broca's action-thriller "That Man from Rio" (1964). These films, along with the comedy-romance "La chasse à l'homme" ("Male Hunt") (1964) with sisters Catherine Deneueve and Francoise Dorleac, soon replaced arthouse fare as Belmondo's projects of choice. Belmondo also served as president of the French actors' union in 1963, the same year he published his autobiography, 30 Years and 25 Films.

Belmondo soon settled into a string of energetic action features like "Les tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine" ("Up to His Ears") (1965), many of which were produced through his own company, Cerito. There were occasional forays into English-language filmmaking, like "Is Paris Burning?" (1966), in which he and other young lions of French cinema like Delon and Jean-Pierre Cassel played leaders of the French Resistance, and a cameo in the overblown "Casino Royale" (1967). But Belmondo remained resolutely faithful to French cinema, and continued to divide his time between popular entertainment like the caper film "The Brain" (1968) and "Borsalino" (1971) with Delon, and collaborations with New Wave mainstays like Louis Malle with "The Thief of Paris" (1967), Francois Truffaut with "Mississippi Mermaid" (1969) and Claude Chabrol with "Docteur Popaul" ("High Heels") (1972).

Alain Resnais' "Stavisky" (1974) earned Belmondo some of the best reviews of his career as the real-life embezzler whose elaborate surety scheme unseated Prime Minister Camille Chautemps in the 1930s. But its failure at the box office seemed to sour the actor on arthouse projects, so he devoted himself to action and crime thrillers for much of the next two decades. He began a profitable collaboration with director Georges Lautner as the anti-hero of such action-packed films as "Flic ou Voyou" ("Cop or Hood") (1979) and "The Professional" (1981), which frequently featured Belmondo performing his own stunts. In the late '80s, with his status as an action star on the wane due to age, Belmondo returned to the stage, and soon divided his time between popular tours in Cyrano de Bergerac, among other productions, and more arthouse-minded film projects. In 1988, he won the Cesar as a wealthy man who staged his own death in Claude Lelouch's "Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté" (1988).

Belmondo continued to work well into the 1990s, most notably in Lelouch's "Les Misérables" (1995) as the film's modern-day Jean Valjean figure. He spent much the decade reaping national rewards for his body of work, including appointment as Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1991 and Commander of the National Order of Merit in 1994. In 2001, he suffered a debilitating stroke that left him partially paralyzed. Belmondo spent the next seven years recuperating, but returned in 2008 for "A Man and His Dog" (2008), a semi-remake of De Sica's "Umberto D." (1952) with Belmondo as an aging, debilitated pensioner who was cast out by his landlady lover after she decided to marry another man. The film generated controversy in the European press, with critics alternately praising Belmondo's courageous performance or condemning the film for showing a national icon in such an unkind light.

By Paul Gaita

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

My Journey Through French Cinema (2016)
Himself
Un homme et son chien (2009)
Les Acteurs (2000)
Himself
Amazone (2000)
Peut-etre (1998)
Ako
Une Chance sur Deux (1998)
Les Miserables (1995)
Performer
One Hundred and One Nights (1995)
Desire (1995)
Desire
L'Inconnu dans la Maison (1992)
L' Itineraire d'un enfant gate (1989)
Le Solitaire (1987)
Commissioner Stan Jalard
Hold Up (1985)
Joyeuses Paques (1984)
Vultures (1983)
Le Marginal (1983)
Ace of Aces (1982)
Jo Cavlier
The Professional (1981)
Flic ou voyou (1979)
Stan Borowitz
L' Animal (1977)
Le Corps de Mon Ennemi (1976)
Francois
L' Alpagueur (1976)
L'Alpagueur
L'Incorrigible (1975)
Fear Over the City (1975)
Peur sur la Ville (1975)
Tellier
Stavisky (1974)
Le Magnifique (1973)
L' Heritier (1972)
Cordell
La Scoumoune (1972)
La Scoumoune
Docteur Popaul (1972)
Dr Paul Simay
Les Maries de l'an Deux (1971)
Husband
The Burglars (1971)
Azad
Borsalino (1970)
Capella
Mississippi Mermaid (1970)
Louis Mahé [Durand, dubbed vers?]
Love Is a Funny Thing (1970)
Henri
The Brain (1969)
Arthur
Pierrot le fou (1968)
Ferdinand Griffon [Pierrot]
Tender Scoundrel (1967)
Tony Maréchal
The Thief of Paris (1967)
Georges Randal
Casino Royale (1967)
French legionnaire
Weekend at Dunkirk (1966)
Sergeant Maillat
Is Paris Burning? (1966)
Morandat
Up to His Ears (1966)
Arthur Lempereur
Angel on Earth (1966)
Michel Barrot
The Winner (1965)
Banana Peel (1965)
Michel
Male Hunt (1965)
Fernand
Greed in the Sun (1965)
Rocco
Backfire (1965)
David Ladislas
Sweet and Sour (1964)
Raymond
That Man From Rio (1964)
Adrien Dufourquet
Cartouche (1964)
Cartouche
Moderato cantabile (1964)
Chauvin
A Woman Is a Woman (1964)
Alfred Lubitsch
Doulos--The Finger Man (1964)
Silien
Rita (1963)
Giuliano Verdi
A Monkey in Winter (1963)
Gabriel Fouquet
The Big Risk (1963)
Stark
L'aine des Ferchaux (1963)
Michel Maudet
La Viaccia (1962)
Amerigo Casamonti
The Cheaters (1961)
Lou
Two Women (1961)
Michele
Leda (1961)
Laszlo Kovacs
Breathless (1961)
Michel Poiccard, alias Laszlo Kovacs
Love and the Frenchwoman (1961)
Gil
Leon Morin, Priest (1961)
Ein Engel auf Erden (1959)
Michel Barrot
Be Beautiful But Shut Up (1958)
Sois belle et tais-toi (1958)

Producer (Feature Film)

Le Nombril du monde (1994)
Producer
L'Inconnu dans la Maison (1992)
Producer
L' Itineraire d'un enfant gate (1989)
Producer
Joyeuses Paques (1984)
Producer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Les Acteurs (2000)
Other

Cast (Short)

Charlotte et son Jules (1958)

Life Events

1955

Short film acting debut in "Moliere"

1956

Appeared on Paris stage in "L'Hotel du libre echange"

1957

Feature debut in "A Pied, a cheval et en voiture"

1958

First appearance in a Jean-Luc Godard film, the short "Charlotte et son Jules"; voice dubbed by Godard

1958

First leading stage role, "Oscar"

1959

Gained international attention starring as petty thief Michel Poiccard in Godard's "Breathless/A bout de souffle"

1962

Appeared briefly (during a boxing match) in Francois Reichenbach's feature-length documentary "Un coeur gros comme ca"

1963

Elected president of French actor's union

1963

Published autobiography "30 Years and 25 Films"

1965

Starred in Godard's "Pierrot le fou"

1966

English-language debut, "Is Paris Burning?"

1982

First feature as producer, "L'As des as/Ace of Aces"

1987

Returned to the Paris stage in Robert Hossein's staging of Dumas' "Kean"

1990

Starred in and produced "Cyrano de Bergerac" in Paris and on tour for two seasons

1991

Purchased the Theatre des Varietes in Paris, reputedly the city's oldest playhouse built in 1807

1995

Starred in Claude Lelouch's "Les Miserables"

1996

Launched scathing attack on Hollywood distribution usurping home-grown product when his film, "Desire", was only booked on 20 French screens

2000

Had first TV role in over forty years in the French miniseries "L'aine des Ferchaux", a remake of the film in which he starred in 1963

2001

Acted in French TV adaptation of "Lion"

Videos

Movie Clip

Breathless (1960) - Do Like Elephants Do American aspiring journalist Patricia (Jean Seberg) meets with the "Editor" (Van Doude) over lunch in Paris, her fugitive boyfriend Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) lurking, in Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless, 1960.
Breathless (1960) - I'm An A-Hole Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is perfectly comfortable stealing a car on the Marseilles waterfront, and director Jean-Luc Godard, at ease with him talking to the camera, in the opening of the New Wave landmark Breathless, 1960.
Breathless (1960) - Do You Think About Death? A section of the lengthy hanging-out segment, wanted-man Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) with American girlfriend Patricia (Jean Seberg), in her Paris apartment, from Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless, 1960.
Burglars, The (1971) - I'm Only For Sale At The News Stand A full 45 minutes into the feature, the first appearance of third-billed Dyan Cannon, with no part thus far in the plot, at an Athens hotel where master thief Arad (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is hiding out before his getaway boat sails, counseling his colleague (Nicole Carfan) on the phone from Corfu, in director Henri Verneuil’s The Burglars 1971.
Two Women (1960) - To A New World Cesira (Sophia Loren), Rosetta (Eleanora Brown) and their Marxist friend Michele (Jean-Paul Belmondo), are the only villagers willing to feed two English soldiers, in Vittorio De Sica's Two Women, 1960.
That Man From Rio (1964) - A Week's Leave Chomping baguettes and cheese, cloaks but no daggers, director Philippe De Broca introduces his leading man Jean-Paul Belmondo, the famous Musee de l’Homme in Paris, an unknown thief and Francoise Dorleac as Agnes, opening the international hit That Man From Rio, 1964.
That Man From Rio (1964) - Stop Shaking Me! Intrepid on-leave airman Adrien (Jean-Paul Belmondo) has followed his kidnapped and drugged archeologist girl Agnes (Francoise Dorleac) from Paris to Rio, improvising to rescue her from maybe cultish thugs, in Philippe De Broca’s That Man From Rio, 1964.
That Man From Rio (1964) - This Is The Police! Museum curator Agnes (Francoise Dorleac) commiserates and flirts with her late father’s colleague (Jean Servais) over a stolen statue, who is kidnapped, and her on-leave pilot beau Adrien (Jean-Paul Belmondo) catches up in time for the police interview, in That Man From Rio, 1964.
That Man From Rio (1964) - Pink With Small Green Stars Discouraged because his girl Agnes (Francois Dorleac), whom he rescued from kidnappers, seems more interested in a Samba in a Rio favela with their sidekick (Ubiracy de Oliveira), Frenchman Adrien (Jean-Paul Belmondo) comes around when she realizes he’s found a clue, in That Man From Rio, 1964.
Mississippi Mermaid (1970) - If We Made The Same Wish Still in early days together, tobacco grower Louis (Jean-Paul Belmondo) getting to know mail-order bride Julie (Catherine Deneuve), before she sneaks off, observed by his banker (played by producer Marcel Berbert), the first clear weirdness, in Francois Truffaut's Mississippi Mermaid, 1970.
Mississippi Mermaid (1970) - Long Live France! Typically unorthodox and immediate opening by director Francois Truffaut, ending with a dedication to Jean Renoir, including clips from the latter's La Marseillaise, 1938, in Mississippi Mermaid, 1970, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve, from a novel by Cornell Woolrich.
Mississippi Mermaid (1970) - You May Kiss The Bride After their tentative and somewhat spooky meeting, Reunion Island tobacco plantation owner Louis (Jean-Paul Belmondo) marries mail-order bride Julie (Catherine Deneuve), shot on location by director Francois Truffaut in Mississippi Mermaid, 1970.

Trailer

Family

Paul Belmondo
Father
Sculptor.
Patricia Belmondo
Daughter
Died in a fire in 1994.
Florence Belmondo
Daughter
Born 1960.
Paul Belmondo
Son
Grand Prix race car driver. Born c. 1963.

Companions

Elodie Belmondo
Wife
Ballerina. Married in 1952; divorced in 1967.
Ursula Andress
Companion
Actor.
Laura Antonelli
Companion
Actor.

Bibliography

"Trente ans et vingt-cinq films"
Jean-Paul Belmondo (1963)

Notes

Belmondo's name was in the headlines in Hollywood in April 1996, when he lashed out at the Hollywood studios and distributors. The actor was furious that his film "Desire" was on only 20 screen in France while American films, such as "Toy Story", were on 500. He claimed that French theatre chains were "on their knees before Hollywood. When I hear them talk about defending French cinema, I can only laugh." (The American market share of movie ticket sales in France was 54 percent at the time, compared to only 35 percent for French-made product.)

He reportedly suffered a stroke while on vacation in Corsica in August 2001.