Claude Chabrol


Director, Screenwriter

About

Also Known As
Claude Henri Jean Chabrol
Birth Place
Paris, FR
Born
June 24, 1930
Died
September 12, 2010

Biography

A founding father of French New Wave cinema, director Claude Chabrol's fascination with genre films, and the detective drama in particular, fueled a lengthy and celebrated string of thrillers, including "Les Bonnes Femmes" (1959), "Les Biches" (1968), La Femme Infidèle" (1968) and "Que la bête meure" (1969), which explored the human heart under extreme emotional duress. Chabrol began as ...

Family & Companions

Agnes Marie-Madeleine Goute
Wife
Married on June 26, 1952; divorced.
Stephane Audran
Wife
Actor. Second wife; married on December 4, 1964, divorced; has appeared in over 20 of Chabrol's films including "Les cousins" (1958), "La femme infidele" (1968), "Violette" (1977) and "Betty" (1992).
Aurore Pajot
Wife

Bibliography

"Hitchcock"
Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer (1957)

Biography

A founding father of French New Wave cinema, director Claude Chabrol's fascination with genre films, and the detective drama in particular, fueled a lengthy and celebrated string of thrillers, including "Les Bonnes Femmes" (1959), "Les Biches" (1968), La Femme Infidèle" (1968) and "Que la bête meure" (1969), which explored the human heart under extreme emotional duress. Chabrol began as a contributor to the celebrated film magazine Cahiers du Cinema alongside such film legends as Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard before launching his directorial career in 1957. He quickly established himself as a versatile filmmaker whose innate understanding of genre tropes informed the complex triangular relationships at the center of many of his films, which frequently served as a prism through which commentary on class conflict could be obliquely addressed. Chabrol's mordant sense of humor and penchant for violent scenarios were alternately embraced and rejected by moviegoers over the course of his five-decade career, but the talent he displayed in depicting these dark deeds, as well as his status among the pantheon of French New Wave cinema, underscored his significance as one of his native country's most prolific and wickedly gifted craftsmen.

Born Claude Henri Jean Chabrol on June 24, 1930 in Sardent, a French village south of Paris, he was the son of Yves Chabrol and his wife, Madeleine Delabre. Chabrol was expected to become a pharmacist like his father and grandfather, but became obsessed with film as a boy, as well as "lowbrow" literature like thrillers and detective fiction. As a teenager, he also ran a film club in a local barn, much to the dismay of his parents, who encouraged him to stay in pharmacology at the Sorbonne. However, upon marrying heiress Agnès Goute in 1952, Chabrol largely abandoned his studies in favor of attending the many film clubs that had taken root in Paris. It was at such clubs that he met such fellow future filmmakers as Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut and Eric Rohmer, with whom he would form the foundation of the French New Wave. After completing his mandatory military service, Chabrol was invited to join Godard, Rohmer and Truffaut as staff writers for the highly influential film journal Cahiers du Cinema. There, he wrote significant articles supporting the use of realism in film, as well as detailed studies of genre and detective films.

After a brief and disastrous tenure as a publicist at the French offices of 20th Century Fox, Chabrol directed his feature debut, "Le Beau Serge" (1957). Funded by an inheritance received by his wife, the film starred Jean-Claude Brialy as a young medical student who sacrificed himself to save his childhood friend (Gérard Blain) from the dissolute life he adopted after the stillbirth of his child. A stark mediation on salvation and sacrifice, it established many of the tenets of the New Wave movement, from its modest production values to its existential themes, as well as a healthy dose of the "Catholic guilt transference" Chabrol had attributed to Alfred Hitchcock in a book about the director's films he co-wrote with Rohmer that same year. "Le Beau Serge" was a critical and box office success, as well as a winner of top prizes at the Locano and Prix Jean Vigo festivals, and was soon followed by "Les Cousins" in 1958. Co-written by Paul Gégauff, who would collaborate with Chabrol on many of his significant films throughout his career, the film again starred Brialy and Blain, though in reversals of their roles from "Le Beau Serge," with Brialy as a decadent young man whose competition with his upstanding cousin (Blain) for the hand of Juliette Mayniel leads to murder. The picture cemented a recurring theme in Chabrol's subsequent films: a clash between the bourgeoisie, as represented by Blain's character, and anarchic outsider forces (Brialy) which inevitably lead to a violent and often fatal clash that frequently unfolds with bursts of dark, perverse humor.

Chabrol suffered a disappointment with his next film, "A double tour" ("Web of Passion") (1959), starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, which set in motion a lengthy period of critical acclaim but poor box office returns. Audiences often struggled with the harsh outcomes of his films, including his acknowledged early masterpiece, "Les Bonnes Femmes" (1959), about a quartet of shop girls whose dreams of a better life were answered by a variety of bizarre scenarios. The film was also marked by an early appearance by actress Stéphane Audran, whom Chabrol would not only cast in numerous subsequent films, but also marry in 1962 following his divorce from Agnès Goute. Moviegoers also questioned the apparent inconsistency of Chabrol's features, which seemed to alternate between decidedly commercial efforts like "Les Godelureaux" ("Wise Guys") (1960) and the spy spoof "Le tigre se parfume à la dynamite" ("Our Agent Tiger") (1965) with more cerebral efforts like "Ophelia" (1962), an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Hamlet," and "Landru" ("Bluebeard") (1963), a thriller based on the real-life crimes of French murderer Henri Landru. But keen observers noted that the unifying element was Chabrol's fascination with genre filmmaking, whose rigid story structure and themes allowed for a wide variety of interpretations.

The late 1960s saw Chabrol hit his stride with a series of high-quality thrillers centered on the familiar theme of deadly conflict within a bourgeoisie context. He returned to prominence with "Les Biches" ("The Does") (1968), with Audran, her former real-life husband, actor Jean-Louis Trintignant, and actress Jacqueline Sassard as a ménage a trois with bisexual overtones. A substantial hit, it led to the "Hélène cycle," an unofficial series of films starring Audran as an eponymous woman whose presence was the catalyst for violent, often deadly emotional upheavals. In "La Femme Infidèle" ("The Unfaithful Wife") (1968), later remade by Adrian Lyne as "Unfaithful" (2002), her affair with a writer spurred her husband (Michel Bouquet) to murder, while "Les Noces rouges" ("Wedding in Blood") (1973) paired her with Michel Piccoli as frustrated lovers who schemed to kill their respective spouses. The film was briefly banned in France due to the plot's similarity to a real-life court case. In 1971, Audran won a BAFTA for Best Actress as a faithful wife who forgave her husband for murdering his mistress in "Juste avant la nuit" ("Just Before Nightfall").

Chabrol also mined the complex relationships between killers and victims, husbands and wives, and the middle class and the working class - who were often interchangeable - in such films as "Que la bête meure" ("This Man Must Die") (1969), about a father's search for the man who killed his son in a traffic accident, and "Ten Days' Wonder" (1971), with Orson Welles and Anthony Perkins as a father and son locked in a love triangle with Welles' new wife. The latter marked the end of Chabrol's long string of successes, with such subsequent efforts as "Une partie de plasir" ("A Piece of Pleasure") (1975), with Gégauff and his real-life wife Danièle as a doomed couple whose downfall eerily presaged the writer's own death at the hands of his second wife in 1983, being received as in poor taste. He closed the decade with one of his most controversial efforts, "Violette Nozière" (1978), a dramatization of a real French crime case in which a young woman (Isabelle Huppert) murdered her parents after they discovered that she moonlighted as a prostitute. Following Chabrol's divorce from Audran in 1978, Huppert became his leading lady of choice, appearing in some of his best known later works, including "The Story of Women" (1988), which cast her as Marie-Louise Giraud, whose work as an abortionist made her the last woman to be guillotined in 1943. She also played the titular role in his 1991 adaptation of "Madame Bovary," which received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, despite critical disdain.

The couple rebounded with "La Cérémonie" (1995), a dark drama about a relationship between a maid (Sandrine Bonnaire) and a postmistress (Huppert) that spelled doom for her employer (Jacqueline Bisset). The film captured numerous significant awards, including the Cesar and Volpi Cup for Huppert and a Golden Lion nomination for Chabrol. Their collaboration would continue into the 21st century with such arthouse favorites as "Merci Pour le Chocolat" ("Thank You for the Chocolate") (2000) and "L'Ivresse du Pouvoir" ("A Comedy of Power") (2006). During this period, Chabrol worked at a prolific pace, helming numerous thrillers over a 20-year period, including the English-language efforts "The Blood of Others" (CTV/HBO, 1984), a miniseries set in World War II that starred Jodie Foster and Sam Neill. His long, celebrated career came to a close with "Bellamy" (2009), with Gerard Depardieu. The following year, Chabrol died at the age of 80 on Sept. 12, 2010 in Paris.

By Paul Gaita

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Inspector Bellamy (2009)
Director
A Girl Cut in Two (2007)
Director
Comedy of Power (2006)
Director
The Flower of Evil (2003)
Director
Merci Pour le Chocolat (2000)
Director
Poulet au Vinaigre (1999)
Director
The Colour of Lies (1999)
Director
The Swindle (1997)
Director
La Ceremonie (1995)
Director
L' Enfer (1994)
Director
L' Oeil de Vichy (1993)
Director
Betty (1992)
Director
Docteur M. (1991)
Director
Madame Bovary (1991)
Director
Quiet Days in Clichy (1989)
Director
Story of Women (1988)
Director
The Blood of Others (1988)
Director
Masques (1987)
Director
The Cry of the Owl (1987)
Director
Les Fantomes du Chapelier (1982)
Director
Le Cheval d'Orgueil (1979)
Director
Les Innocents aux mains Sales (1978)
Director
Les Liens du sang (1978)
Director
Violette (1978)
Director
Alice, Or The Last Escapade (1977)
Director
Les Liens de sang (1977)
Director
Death Rite (1976)
Director
Folies bourgeoises (1976)
Director
Les Magiciens (1975)
Director
Pleasure Party (1975)
Director
The Bench of Desolation (1974)
Director
Une Partie de Plaisir (1974)
Director
Les Noces Rouges (1973)
Director
Docteur Popaul (1972)
Director
High Heels (1972)
Director
Juste avant la nuit (1971)
Director
This Man Must Die (1970)
Director
Who's Got the Black Box? (1970)
Director
Le Boucher (1970)
Director
The Break-Up (1970)
Director
La femme infidèle (1969)
Director
Six in Paris (1968)
Director of "La Muette"
Les biches (1968)
Director
The Champagne Murders (1968)
Director
The Beautiful Swindlers (1967)
Director of "Paris"
Les bonnes femmes (1966)
Director
La Ligne de Demarcation (1966)
Director
Marie-Chantal Contre le Docteur Kha (1965)
Director
An Orchid For the Tiger (1965)
Director
Ophélia (1964)
Director
The Tiger Likes Fresh Blood (1964)
Director
Seven Capital Sins (1963)
Director of "Greed"
The Third Lover (1963)
Director
Landru (1963)
Director
Leda (1961)
Director
Les Godelureaux (1961)
Director
Les Cousins (1959)
Director
Le Beau Serge (1958)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

The Other Side of the Wind (2018)
Himself
My Journey Through French Cinema (2016)
Himself
Avida (2006)
The Son of Gascogne (1995)
Himself
Francois Truffaut: Stolen Portraits (1993)
Himself
Music For the Movies: Bernard Herrmann (1992)
Himself
Sam Suffit (1992)
Mr Denis
I Hate Actors (1988)
Alouette, je te plumerai (1988)
Pierre Vergne
Sale destin! (1987)
Jeux d'artifices (1987)
Summer on a Soft Slope (1987)
Priest
Suivez mon regard (1986)
Thieves After Dark (1983)
Louis Crepin
Polar (1982)
Theodore Lyssenko
Les Folies d'Elodie (1981)
L' Animal (1977)
Folies bourgeoises (1976)
Who's Got the Black Box? (1970)
Alcibiades
Les biches (1968)
Filmmaker
Six in Paris (1968)
Husband
Les bonnes femmes (1966)
Marie-Chantal Contre le Docteur Kha (1965)
Barman
An Orchid For the Tiger (1965)
The Liars (1964)
Paris Belongs to Us (1962)
Breathless (1961)
Le Beau Serge (1958)

Writer (Feature Film)

Inspector Bellamy (2009)
Screenplay
A Girl Cut in Two (2007)
Screenplay
Comedy of Power (2006)
Screenplay
The Flower of Evil (2003)
Screenplay (Adaptation And Dialogue)
Unfaithful (2002)
Source Material
Merci Pour le Chocolat (2000)
Screenplay
Poulet au Vinaigre (1999)
Screenwriter
The Colour of Lies (1999)
Screenwriter
The Swindle (1997)
Screenwriter
La Ceremonie (1995)
Screenwriter
L' Enfer (1994)
Screenplay
L' Enfer (1994)
Adaptation And Dialogue
Betty (1992)
Screenwriter
Madame Bovary (1991)
Screenwriter
Madame Bovary (1991)
Adaptation
Docteur M. (1991)
Screenwriter
Madame Bovary (1991)
Dialogues
Quiet Days in Clichy (1989)
Screenwriter
Story of Women (1988)
Screenwriter
Masques (1987)
Screenplay
The Cry of the Owl (1987)
Screenwriter
Les Fantomes du Chapelier (1982)
Screenwriter
Le Cheval d'Orgueil (1979)
Screenplay
Les Innocents aux mains Sales (1978)
Screenwriter
Alice, Or The Last Escapade (1977)
Screenwriter
Les Liens de sang (1977)
Screenplay
Folies bourgeoises (1976)
Screenplay
Les Magiciens (1975)
Screenwriter
Les Noces Rouges (1973)
Screenwriter
Juste avant la nuit (1971)
Screenwriter
This Man Must Die (1970)
Screenwriter
Le Boucher (1970)
Dialogue
Le Boucher (1970)
Adaptation
The Break-Up (1970)
Screenwriter
Le Boucher (1970)
Screenwriter
La femme infidèle (1969)
Screenwriter
Les biches (1968)
Screenwriter
Six in Paris (1968)
Screenplay for "La Muette"
La Ligne de Demarcation (1966)
Screenplay
Marie-Chantal Contre le Docteur Kha (1965)
Screenwriter
Ophélia (1964)
Screenwriter
The Third Lover (1963)
Screenwriter
Les Godelureaux (1961)
Screenwriter
Les Cousins (1959)
Screenplay
Le Beau Serge (1958)
Screenplay
Le Beau Serge (1958)
Writer (Dialogue)

Producer (Feature Film)

Les Cousins (1959)
Producer
Le Beau Serge (1958)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Docteur Popaul (1972)
Lyrics

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

Breathless (1961)
Artistic Supervisor

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

The Other Side of the Wind (2018)
Other
The Son of Gascogne (1995)
Other
Francois Truffaut: Stolen Portraits (1993)
Other
Music For the Movies: Bernard Herrmann (1992)
Other
Le Bonheur se porte large (1988)
Consultant

Writer (Short)

Le Coup du Berger (1956)
Screenplay

Producer (Short)

Veronique and Her Dunce (1958)
Executive Producer
Le Coup du Berger (1956)
Producer

Life Events

1956

Short film acting, producing, co-writing and co-scoring debut, "Le coup de Berger" (dir. Jacques Rivette)

1958

Formed production company AJYM, which supported not only his own early features, but those of other New Wave directors

1958

Film directing debut (also screenwriter; producer), "Le Beau Serge/Bitter Reunion/Handsome Serge"

1958

First collaboration with Paul Gegauff, "Les cousins"; film also marked his first with actress Stephane Audran

1968

Directed "Les Biches," starring Stephane Audran and Jacqueline Sassard

1970

Again collaborated with wife Stephane Audran in "Le Boucher"

1971

Made first English-language feature, "Ten Days' Wonder"

1975

Last collaboration with Gegauff, "Les magiciens"

1985

American TV directorial debut, "Les sang des autres/The Blood of Others"; a French-Canadian co-production made for HBO

1991

Helmed an adaptation of Gustave Flaubert's "Madame Bovary"

1992

Directed the feature "Betty"

1995

Helmed the psychological thriller "La Cérémonie" with Jacqueline Bisset and Jean-Pierre Cassel

2000

Directed the mystery "Merci pour le chocolat," with actress Isabelle Huppert

2009

Directed last feature film "Bellamy," with Gerard Depardieu

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.
Champagne Murders, The (1967) - I Haven't Had Enough Television Christine (Yvonne Furneaux) is finally making headway with playboy Paul (Maurice Ronet), who controls the name of her vineyard, which she's desperate to sell, trying also to use the influence of her husband Christopher (Anthony Perkins), who's also his best pal, in Claude Chabrol's The Champagne Murders, 1967.
Champagne Murders, The (1967) - Why Should People Have To Answer Bells? Vineyard owner Christine (Yvonne Furneaux) gives a tour to her buyers (Henry Jones lawyering for George Skaff), who are concerned that she doesn’t own the name, Stephane Audran her assistant, Maurice Ronet the playboy friend who does own it, Anthony Perkins her quirky husband, in Claude Chabrol’s The Champagne Murders, 1967.
Story Of Women (1989) - I Need To Have Fun Following the opening credits, Cherbourg, occupied France, 1943, Marie-Louise (Isabelle Huppert) returns home with her children, meeting friend Ginette (Marie Bunel) on the stairs and later friend Rachel (Myriam David) on the town, in director Claude Chabrol's fact-based Story Of Women, 1989.
Story Of Women (1989) - She's Never Been Jewish In occupied France, 1943, Marie (Isabelle Huppert) learns that one friend has been taken by the Nazis, hears from another (Marie Bunel) that their attempted at-home abortion may have failed, then consoles her son (Guillame Foutrier), in Claude Chabrol's true story, Story Of Women, 1989.
Les Cousins (1959) - Go Learn To Read Paris party mayhem from New Wave pioneer Claude Chabrol, blonde Francoise is the director's wife Stephane Audran, as visiting Charles (Gerard Blain) and cousin Paul (Jean-Claude Brialy) are more interested in ethereal Florence (Juliette Mayniel) than a boozy Italian count (Corrado Guarducci), in Les Cousins, 1959.
Les Cousins (1959) - The Famous Cousin Young Charles (Gerard Blain) from the provinces sits in at cards and is enthralled by Florence (Juliette Mayniel, her first appearance) as his cousin Paul (Jean-Claude Brialy) shows him around Paris, also introducing Yvonne (Michele Meritz), in director Claude Chabrol's early New Wave statement Les Cousins, 1959.
Le Beau Serge (1958) - I Had No Illusions Visiting his hometown, Francois (Jean-Claude Brialy) with local Michel (Michele Creuze), then another encounter with now less-drunk ex-best friend Serge (Gerard Blain), his wife (Michele Meritz), her father and sister (Edmond Beauchamp, Bernadette Lafont), in Claude Chabrol's Le Beau Serge, 1958.
Le Beau Serge (1958) - You're Fat And Ugly Med student Francois (Jean-Claude Brialy) back in his hometown, visits old friend Serge (Gerard Blain), for the first time not drunk, with his wife Yvonne (Michele Meritz), who had a miscarraige, and her sister (Bernadette Lafont), in Claude Chabrol's debut, Le Beau Serge, 1958.
Le Beau Serge (1958) - Parish Of Sardent Somewhat historic, the opening of the first recognized French New Wave feature, Claude Chabrol directs the arrival of Jean-Claude Brialy, as medical graduate Francois, in Chabrol's own home town (Sardent), with a brief look at the title character (Gerard Blain), in Le Beau Serge, 1958.

Family

Yves Chabrol
Father
Pharmacist.
Madeleine Chabrol
Mother
Jacques-Yves Chabrol
Son
Novelist. Mother, Agnes Goute.
Mathieu Chabrol
Son
Mother, Agnes Goute.
Thomas Chabrol
Son
Actor. Mother, Stephane Audran.

Companions

Agnes Marie-Madeleine Goute
Wife
Married on June 26, 1952; divorced.
Stephane Audran
Wife
Actor. Second wife; married on December 4, 1964, divorced; has appeared in over 20 of Chabrol's films including "Les cousins" (1958), "La femme infidele" (1968), "Violette" (1977) and "Betty" (1992).
Aurore Pajot
Wife

Bibliography

"Hitchcock"
Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer (1957)