Sunday, April 22, 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.