Jacques Demy


Director
Jacques Demy

About

Birth Place
France
Born
June 05, 1931
Died
October 27, 1990
Cause of Death
Brain Hemorrhage Brought On By Leukemia

Biography

Versatile director whose films such as "Lola" (1961) are generally noted for their stylish, bittersweet yet often optimistic romanticism. Demy made several musicals, including "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" (1964)--in which all the dialogue was sung--and worked often with actress Catherine Deneuve and composer Michel Legrand. He married fellow New Wave director Agnes Varda in 1962. Varda p...

Family & Companions

Agnes Varda
Wife
Director. Together from 1959; married from 1962 until his death; mother of Mathieu; directed such films as "Cleo from 5 to 7" (1962), "One Sings, the Other Doesn't" (1976) and "Vagabond" (1985).

Notes

"There is in the best of his work an underlying strain of melancholy, a unique fusion of lust and wanderlust, an intensity one has no right to expect from material as fey as this." --Critic Gilbert Adair

Demy's films often began with an iris opening, a signature he chose because "I'd seen it at the cinema, especially in silent films, and...I found it very fascinating, this little circle that encompasses a face, isolates it, and makes the picture disappear. The fade-in is really a picture that you remove, that you erase, whereas what I like with the iris shot is that the picture stays behind it, it's not quite finished."

Biography

Versatile director whose films such as "Lola" (1961) are generally noted for their stylish, bittersweet yet often optimistic romanticism. Demy made several musicals, including "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" (1964)--in which all the dialogue was sung--and worked often with actress Catherine Deneuve and composer Michel Legrand. He married fellow New Wave director Agnes Varda in 1962. Varda paid tribute to her ailing husband with the wistful, biographical "Jacquot/Jacquot de Nantes" (1991). Demy grew up in Nantes, and originally was expected to follow in his father's footsteps and trained as a mechanic. Instead, he headed into the arts. After earning a degree from L'Ecole Technique de Photographie et de Cinematographie, Demy worked on publicity films and as an assistant to animator Paul Grimault, then as assistant to director Georges Rouquier on "Lourdes et ses miracles" (1954). In 1955, he also secured the backing of Pathe for his own short film, "Le Sabotier du Val du Loire," which was a slow-paced documentary about the family of clog makers with who Demy had lived when he was a child during World War II. He made his first short fiction film "Le Bel indifferent" in 1957, based on a short play by Jean Cocteau. After several other short films came "Lola" in 1960, set in his own home town and starring Anouk Aimee as a beautiful, fearless nightclub singer. Though not a commercial success, "Lola" won the Prix de L'Academie du Cinema and critic Eric Rohmer called it the "most original film of the New Wave" in France. (Although technically, Demy was not a New Wave director. Having worked his way up as an assistant on other's films and not as a critic, he was considered one of the "Left Bank School" director.) Demy's next feature was "La Baie des anges/Bay of Angels" (1962), written in three days and telling the story of a bank employee who becomes fascinated with gambling and Jeanne Moreau, the woman he meets in the casino. "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," starring Catherine Denueve, followed in 1964, gaining Demy an international reputation. In the film all the dialogue is sung, amidst imaginative use of color and design. Also with Deneuve -- and her sister, Francoise Dorleac -- Demy did the all-sung "Les Demoiselles de Rochefort" (1967), but the reception was not as strong. Still, "The Young Girls of Rochefort" (as it was called in English), includes a performance by Gene Kelly whose work on the screen as a director and performer greatly influenced Demy. Demy made "Model Shop" in English, in which Anouk Aimee reappears as Lola, but then flopped with "Peau d'Ane" (1967), "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" (U.S./1972), and "A Slightly Pregnant Man" (1973). It was not until 1979 -- a six year absence -- that Demy again directed. He chose "Lady Oscar" (1979), financed by Japanese interests and based on a Japanese comic strip. He then turned to TV, directing "La Naissance du jour," a adaptation of a story by Colette. Demy bounced back in feature films in 1982, again with sung dialogue, with "Une Chambre en ville." Like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," it was about an ill-fated love affair, this time starring Dominique Sanda. Although honored with the Grand Prix du Cinema, Demy failed to impress the critics in France with the effort. His work after showed a decline in originality. "Parking" (1985), was a retelling of the Orpheus tale, and was a disappointment, even with its score by Michel Legrand. Three years later, Demy made his final film, "Trois place pour le 26." Demy can also be seen briefly in the films of other directors. He played a policeman for Francois Truffaut in "400 Blows" (1959), and also appears in "Paris nous appointment" (1960).

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

La Table tournante (1988)
Director
Trois places pour le 26 (1988)
Director
Parking (1985)
Director
Une chambre en ville (1982)
Director
Lady Oscar (1979)
Director
A Slightly Pregnant Man (1973)
Director
The Pied Piper (1972)
Director
Donkey Skin (1970)
Director
Model Shop (1969)
Director
The Young Girls of Rochefort (1968)
Director
Bay of the Angels (1964)
Director
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
Director
Seven Capital Sins (1963)
Director of "Lust"
Lola (1962)
Director
Le Bel Indifferent (1957)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Jacquot (1991)
(Cameo Appearance) Himself
Paris Belongs to Us (1962)
The 400 Blows (1959)

Writer (Feature Film)

La Table tournante (1988)
Screenwriter
Trois places pour le 26 (1988)
Screenplay
Parking (1985)
Screenwriter
Une chambre en ville (1982)
Screenwriter
A Slightly Pregnant Man (1973)
Screenwriter
The Pied Piper (1972)
Screenwriter
Donkey Skin (1970)
Screenplay
Model Shop (1969)
Screenwriter
The Young Girls of Rochefort (1968)
Original story--Screenplay
Bay of the Angels (1964)
Screenwriter
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
Screenwriter
Seven Capital Sins (1963)
Screenplay for "Lust"
Lola (1962)
Screenwriter

Producer (Feature Film)

Model Shop (1969)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Parking (1985)
Lyrics
The Young Girls of Rochefort (1968)
Composer
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
Lyrics

Production Companies (Feature Film)

Model Shop (1969)
Company

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

The Young Girls Turn 25 (1993)
Archival Footage
Jacquot (1991)
Other

Director (Short)

La Luxure (1962)
Director
Ars (1959)
Director
La Mere et l'Enfant (1959)
Director
Le Musee Grevin (1958)
Director
Le Sabotier du Val de Loire (1955)
Director

Writer (Short)

Ars (1959)
Screenwriter
La Mere et l'Enfant (1959)
Screenwriter
Le Sabotier du Val de Loire (1955)
Screenwriter

Life Events

1945

At age 14, tried to make first feature "L'Aventure de Solange" using neighborhood children; film returned from the processing lab was overexposed (date approximate)

1952

Worked as assistant to Paul Grimault making advertising cartoons

1952

First film as assistant director, "Lourdes et ses miracles", directed by Georges Rouquier

1955

First short film as director, "Le sabotier du Val de Loire"; also scripted

1959

Acted in Truffaut's "The 400 Blows"; played bit part of a policeman

1961

Feature directing debut, "Lola"

1964

Had greatest success with the all-sung, color feature "Les parapluis de Cherbourg/The Umbrellas of Cherbourg"; wrote, directed and supplied lyrics to Michel Legrand's music; received Oscar nomination as Best Foreign-Language Film, Best Screenplay, Best Score and Best Song

1967

Stumbled at the box-office with "Les demoiselles de Rochefort/The Young Ladies of Rochefort", another all-sung film

1970

Directed Catherine Deneuve in the fairy tale-inspired "Peau d'ane/Donkey Skin/The Magic Donkey"

1972

Co-wrote and directed "The Pied Piper", starring Danny Kaye; film made for UNICEF; first-English language film

1976

Staged first Cesar Awards ceremony

1979

Made English-language film "Lady Oscar"

1981

Turned briefly to TV, directing "La Naissance du jour"

1982

After several years of critical decline, bounced back somewhat with the musical tragedy "Une chambre en ville",

1983

Hired to direct the cable TV-movie "Louisiana" (Cinemax), withdrew for "personal and family reasons" and was replaced by Philippe de Broca

1985

Reinterpreted the Orpheus myth as "Parking"

1988

Last film, "Trois Places Pour le 26"

Videos

Movie Clip

Model Shop (1969) - Opening, Who Were You Dreaming Of? Opening title sequence for Jacques Demy's Model Shop, 1969, features music by Spirit, a long camera move by Michael Hugo, and Gary Lockwood in his big post 2001: A Space Odyssey" role, Alexandra Hay his girlfriend.
Model Shop (1969) - The White Mercury George (Gary Lockwood) visiting L-A parking lot attendant buddy Rob (Craig Littler) then follows a girl in a white Mercury (Anouk Aimee) to Sunset Boulevard and beyond, in Jacques Demy's Model Shop, 1969.
Model Shop (1969) - Spirit, Jay Ferguson Unemployed George (Gary Lockwood) drops in on L-A pal Jay Ferguson (still active today, an acclaimed film and TV composer, playing himself, but also a friend from architecture school) and his real, up and coming band "Spirit" (John Locke, Ed Cassidy, Randy “California” Craig Wolfe and Mark Andes) in director Jacques Demy's Model Shop, 1969.
Model Shop (1969) - The Bed Or The Armchair? George (Gary Lockwood) rents a Brownie and photographs Lola (Anouk Aimee) whom he's been following all day in Jacques Demy's Model Shop, 1969, the trans-Atlantic sequel to Demy's Lola, 1962.
Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, The (1964) - Un Film De Jacques Demy Director Jacques Demy's improbable on location opening begins to suggest the visual style, and provides the first sample of Michel Legrand's international hit theme, in the one-of-a-kind musical that made Catherine Deneuve a star, The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, 1964.
Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, The (1964) - Too Ugly Or Too Stupid? On location at the Normandy title-town, teen Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve) with boyfriend Guy (Nino Castelnuovo), then at work with mother (Anne Vernon), music by Michel Legrand, lyrics by director Jacques Demy, in the acclaimed sung-through musical The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, 1964.
Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, The (1964) - You May Speak Freely A key event in the sung-through musical by director Jacques Demy, cash-strapped shop-owner Madame Emery (Anne Vernon), with daughter Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve) seeks help from a jeweler (Harald Wolff) and meets Cassard (Marc Michel), in The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, 1964.
Young Girls Of Rochefort (1967) - Chanson Des Jumelles From opening scenes on location on the square in Rochefort, director Jacques Demy has swooped into a studio where twins (and real-life sisters) Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac have just finished a class, song by Demy and Michel Legrand, in The Young Girls Of Rochefort, 1967.
Young Girls Of Rochefort (1967) - Andy Amoreux Jacques Demy directs, his screenplay and lyrics and music by Michel Legrand, a tune performed partly by Solange (Francoise Dorleac), collecting her young brother, but mostly by dazzled American Andy (Gene Kelly), his vocal dubbed in French, in The Young Girls Of Rochefort, 1967.
Young Girls Of Rochefort (1967) - Chanson De Maxence Shooting on the genuine location, Americans George Chakiris and Grover Dale observe as cafe owner Danielle Darrieux and daughter Genevieve Thenier greet Jacques Perrin as sailor Maxence, song by director Jacques Demy and Michel Legrand, in The Young Girls Of Rochefort, 1967.
Young Girls Of Rochefort (1967) - Marins, Amis, Amants Ou Maris Back on the square (on location in the actual town), American troupers and girlfriends Pamela Hart, the co-choreographer, and Leslie North, inform their boyfriends and employers (George Chakiris, Grover Dale) that they’re moving on, in Jacques Demy’s The Young Girls Of Rochefort, 1967.
Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, The (1964) - We Must Try To Be Happy Young couple Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) and Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve) have just learned he must leave for two years national service, her mother (Anne Vernon) not so moved, in the "recitative" musical by director Jacques Demy and composer Michel Legrand, The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, 1964.

Trailer

Family

Raymond Demy
Father
Garage owner.
Marie-Louise Demy
Mother
Rosalie Varda-Demy
Daughter
Costume designer. Born in 1958.
Mathieu Demy
Son
Actor. Born in 1972; mother, Agnes Varda; appeared in several of Varda's films and supplied the voice of the small clown for Demy's "La table tournante/The Turning Table" (1988).

Companions

Agnes Varda
Wife
Director. Together from 1959; married from 1962 until his death; mother of Mathieu; directed such films as "Cleo from 5 to 7" (1962), "One Sings, the Other Doesn't" (1976) and "Vagabond" (1985).

Bibliography

Notes

"There is in the best of his work an underlying strain of melancholy, a unique fusion of lust and wanderlust, an intensity one has no right to expect from material as fey as this." --Critic Gilbert Adair

Demy's films often began with an iris opening, a signature he chose because "I'd seen it at the cinema, especially in silent films, and...I found it very fascinating, this little circle that encompasses a face, isolates it, and makes the picture disappear. The fade-in is really a picture that you remove, that you erase, whereas what I like with the iris shot is that the picture stays behind it, it's not quite finished."

"In New York I met Warhol and the Factory people, and I must say that all those people were much more interesting than the major companies that weren't producing much of interest at the time. In fact, Warhol was reinventing cinema in his way, like Godard, going back to the beginning. I was very tempted (to work with them), but I think the differences between their culture and civilization, and mine were too big, and although I was fascinated by the underground movement, there was no place for me in it. Maybe I was mistaken but that I felt at the time." --Demy in Film Dope, Number 10

"Perhaps I would not have remained in films or pursued acting if it hadn't been for Jacques Demy. He was a single-minded man who never let me think about anything but my career." --actress Catherine Deneuve to columnist Liz Smith in August 1998