Michel Deville his life and career in pictures Paris

Michel Deville, his life and career in pictures – Paris Match

Director Michel Deville, who died at the age of 91, staged the greatest French actresses of the 20th century in light comedy and then in black and strange stories.

As the author of around thirty feature films, he received two Césars, the French Oscars, for “Le Dossier 51” (1979, best screenplay) and for “Peril in the Home” (1986, best director).

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He also twice won the Louis Delluc Prize (considered the goncourt of cinema) for “Benjamin, Or the Memoirs of a Virgin” (1967) and “La Lectrice” (1988).

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“All my films, comedies and others more serious, even more serious, were games with rules to me,” said this bony-faced, steel-blue-eyed man who loved to deal with people against their instincts.

When he played actors of the caliber of Michel Piccoli, Jacques Dutronc or Jean-Louis Trintignant, among others, he claimed to dislike “the company of men”.

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On the other hand, he directed actresses such as Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot, Romy Schneider, Jeanne Moreau, Françoise Fabian, Fanny Ardant, Mathilda May, Marina Vlady, Marlène Jobert or Miou-Miou.

Michel Deville, who claimed to be lonely and antisocial, was a meticulous filmmaker gifted with capturing “a moment, a sentence, a beautiful landscape, a beautiful face.” “It’s not enough for me to see them, I have to remember them. I keep them in my notebooks,” he explained.

Many adjustments

Writing in all its forms was essential to him. Most of his films come from literary works that he adapted.

He will film “La lectrice” based on the novel by Raymond Jean or “Le Dossier 51” based on the book by Gilles Perrault.

He also practiced poetry, his “relaxation”, publishing several whimsical and irreverent collections close to the spirit of a Prévert or a Queneau: “Dans l’aube hallucinée/ D’un jardin vague et mal fané/ Lamented a gardener ( .. .) / Feet buried in the compost on the spot and instead of two leeks (…) / Heartbreaking failure, cruelty / The gardener had planted himself”.

Michel Deville was born on April 13, 1931 in Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine).

His parents have friendly neighbors whose apartment overlooks the roof of a cinema. Thanks to a catwalk, the boy often goes to the screening booth. This is how a calling begins…

He spent ten years learning the craft, particularly from his mentor Henri Decoin. Then he made his first film, Tonight or Never, a dramatic comedy. Comedies like “Adorable menteuse” (1962) or “A cause, because of a woman” follow. He was successful with “Benjamin…”, interpreted by Michèle Morgan, Michel Piccoli and Pierre Clémenti. In 1970 he directed Brigitte Bardot’s comedy L’ours et la doll.

After Raphaël ou le Débauché (1971), Michel Deville opens up to more serious themes, between police intrigues and intimate, sensual ones behind closed doors, sometimes against a background of manipulation and troubled relationships between men and women.

In the same year, 1971, his collaboration with Nina Companeez, who was simultaneously the screenwriter, dialogue writer and editor of most of his films, ended and she decided to become a director herself.

“We grew old together, that was good, but we were always in the same groove, our number was too well-rehearsed,” he then said.

From the 1980s it was his wife Rosalinde who wrote and produced his films: “She writes what I dream of seeing in the cinema,” said the childless, unclassifiable artist. He then made films such as “Danger at Home” (1985), “Le Paltoquet” (1986) and “Sachs Disease”, based on Martin Winckler.

He adapted Feydeau for his last film Un fil à la patte in 2005 with Emmanuelle Béart and Charles Berling.