Sunday, April 22, 2007

Jean-Pierre Cassel (1932-2007)

The incredible French actor Jean-Pierre Cassel died on Thursday at the age of 75. Rumor has it that he was first discovered by none other than Gene Kelly in 1953 while tap dancing on a Paris street. His long and impressive career included working with directors ranging from Jean-Pierre Melville to Harry Kumel to Luis Bunuel. He worked throughout his career with many of the great actors in French cinema as well as some of its most beautiful leading ladies including Brigitte Bardot, Claude Jade, Delphine Seyrig, Sandrine Bonnaire and Emmanuelle Beart.
Always special were his collaborations with the great Claude Chabrol. They worked together in several films including Chabrol's brilliant LA RUPTURE (70), the strange TWIST (76), and two of Chabrol's most recent masterpieces, L'ENFER (94) and LA CEREMONIE (95).
A personal favorite was Michel Deville's silly but charming 1969 vehicle for Brigitte Bardot THE BEAR AND THE DOLL. Appearing with Bardot in one of her final films the two are clearly having fun and share a great on screen chemistry. Director Deville would say that Cassel brought "truthfulness and artistic skill" to his film. I think these two words are a fine summation to his entire career in almost 200 films.
Cassel was a Cesar nominee, a wonderful actor, a musician and father to one of French cinema's great modern lights, the intense and talented Vincent Cassel. He will be much missed by film goers all over the world. All the best to his family and friends.


cinebeats said...

Very nice tribute! I haven't seen a lot of Cassel's films and I'm embarrassed to say that I've only seen one Chabrol film (L' Enfer), but I have enjoyed his performances in everything I have seen.

It seems like lots of great people are taking their leave lately and it's a bit sad. On the upside, you've inspired me to seek out The Bear and the Doll so I hope to give that a look soon. I love Bardot in just about everything.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Kimberly,
I highly recommend Chabrol's films to you especially from around 68-75 or so. La Rupture, Les Biches and Dirty Hands are all great starting points but the guy is still churning out quality films so I recommend any you can find.
The Bear and The Doll is to my knowledge only available in really poor quality public domain versions. I hope it gets a better release someday as it is one of the best of Bardot's later films.
Thanks for your nice comments.