Belmondo, leader of the Conservatory band, who devoured life

The unforgettable Aurora of Raphael or the debauchery is here “girl” of this troop composed of Jean Rochefort, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Bruno Crémer, Claude Rich or Guy Bedos. Moved, she returned to the memories of her youth with Bébel and his merry acrobats.

Of the famous band of the Conservatory, Françoise Fabian remains, with Pierre Vernier, one of the last witnesses of the trips of these acrobats who around Jean-Paul Belmondo, in the mid-1950s, loved to live and remake the world. The actor who has just died at the age of 88 was the leader of “La Bande du Conservatoire”, or “La Bande à Bébel”.

With its disappearance, this famous group of rebellious students of the Conservatory of the 1950s has just lost its last emblematic figure. In four years, Jean Rochefort (2017), Claude Rich (2017), Jean-Pierre Marielle (2019), Jean-Pierre Mocky (2019), Guy Bedos (2020) and, before them, Michel Beaune ( 1990) and Bruno Cremer (2010). The last survivors are Pierre Vernier and Françoise Fabian.

This group of friends eager for renewal and modernity in the aftermath of the war detonated, both on stage and in town, with their outbursts against the Conservatory of Dramatic Art, which they considered dusty. Laboriously admitted to the Conservatory, Belmondo was little appreciated by teachers because of his physique considered incompatible with the leading roles. Whoever becomes the new model of the young first in the cinema will even suffer from hurtful remarks like “You would make a room howl with laughter if you hugged a woman”.

An anecdote has remained in the annals: in the competition of 1956, he won a simple accessit for a scene of the play Love and Piano de Feydeau, which closed the door of the Comédie-Française to him, despite the ovation of his classmates. Carried in triumph by his band, he leaves the room, addressing a finger of honor to the jurors. “It made a little scandal at the Conservatory”, he will recall.

Core of this inseparable band, Belmondo multiplied the jokes and the gags against his friends, his teachers or the people of the street or at the canteen of the Opera where they had lunch every day, recalled Point in 2017. He jumps on the hoods of cars, pulls down his pants in front of the ladies, starts fake fights on the sidewalk with Marielle or Cremer. They also made the 400 blows in the Latin Quarter or in Saint-Germain-des-Prés where his funeral will take place Friday, September 10.

“When Belmondo at the Conservatory played a scene, the warned rushed. […] For some, we were in front of a vocation error, for others, in front of the unconditional future, it recreated everything ”, wrote Jean Rochefort in his book This kind of things.

Françoise Fabian, the unforgettable Aurore of Raphael or the debauchery, the Maud de Rohmer agreed, despite the emotion that overwhelmed her, to discuss for France Inter and The Parisian , memories of her youth as an apprentice actress with this band of merry men who never lost an opportunity to eat life to the fullest.

And today, she has not forgotten anything of those blessed years: “… They took me under their wing, me, the poor little girl from her province, living in a maid’s room. I was their little friend, we met At Paulette, a restaurant on rue Ordener in the 18th century. We also met at the Dôme in Montparnasse, and there we remade the world.

The actress also remembers playing with Jean-Paul Belmondo in Thief by Louis Malle. His relaxed professionalism, which made Quentin Tarantino say that he was “the coolest man», Did not fail to amaze him. “He was constantly laughing between takes. I said to him: “Still, how do you do it, don’t you need to concentrate?” And he replied: “It’s nothing important, it’s cinema”, she recalls.

A bon vivant, an insatiable munchie of life, Belmondo was of course all of that. But Françoise Fabian wanted to repeat to Dominique Besnehard on France Inter how much he was also a huge actor capable of playing everything. “In addition to being sexy, he had a much wider range of play than people say. When you see The Doulos, what an actor! Play the Guignolo, you have to do it: like the Italian actors, he managed to go beyond the simple side ”, she analyzes.

As a homecoming and to please his father, the sculptor Paul Belmondo, who wanted him to practice “his real job», Bébel will return to the stage in 1987. He will be the Kean by Alexandre Dumas, adapted for the stage by Jean-Paul Sartre. Under the benevolent rule of his friend Robert Hossein, this comeback will be a triumph. In this absolute counter-employment – Kean is an actor who does not manage to be natural – Bébel will have been, once again, magnificent.

Jean-Paul Belmondo Le Figaro

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