Friday, June 1, 2007

Coming Of Age Together: Jean-Claude Brialy and Bernadette Lafont

When Claude Chabrol was casting his first film, LE BEAU SERGE, one wonders if he had any idea that he would help launch the careers of two of the brightest and best of all the French New Wave stars.
The irrepressible Bernadette Lafont was only 19 years old when Chabrol cast her in his iconic first film. Her only other previous film experience had been in Truffaut's fantastic short LES MISTONS that previous year. Her role as the object of the young boys obsessions in LES MISTONS had been noticed by nearly everyone and LE BEAU SERGE offered her a perfect first feature film.
Brialy always credited Chabrol for making his career and while he had appeared in several films before LE BEAU SERGE, it was really the one that placed him among the great actors of the day.

Brialy and Lafont would share a great onscreen chemistry and would continue to work together throughout their impressive careers. They would make a total of seven features together that would span the fifties, sixties, seventies and even eighties. Brialy would direct one of the features while Chabrol directed three. While the Chabrol features, LE BEAU SERGE, LES GODELUREAUX and INSPECTEUR LAVARDIN are the obvious highlights of their collaborations, I have a special fondness for Claude Miller's 1985 feature L'EFFRONTEE mostly due to being able to watch Brialy and Lafont acting with a young Charlotte Gainsbourg.

L'EFFRONTEE and INSPECTEUR LAVARDIN are both available on dvd while copies of LE BEAU SERGE can still be found on VHS. Unfortunately their other collaborations, including that second Chabrol, are currently unavailable commercially in the United States.

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