Françoise Arnoul, “sacred little monster” of cinema, died at the age of 90

DISAPPEARANCE – The French actress, partner of Jean Gabin in the film People of no importance and 1950s movie star, died Tuesday.

French actress Françoise Arnoul, a young first in vogue in the 1950s, died on July 20 at the age of 90. She died in a Paris hospital following a long illness, her family said in a statement. “We thought it was more important to live your life, to love, and to be with your loved one, to do the things you wanted to do rather than to make movies. », Confided Françoise Arnoul in 2015 about Simone Signoret who was her friend until her death. With an assumed freedom, the two actresses had chosen to focus on their loves and not their careers. Sex symbol of the 1950s, between Martine Carol and Brigitte Bardot, Françoise Arnoul had told herself with Jean-Louis Mingalon in an autobiography entitled Animal gifted with happiness (Belfond, 1995).

Daughter of a general father who sees her as a diplomat and of an actress mother who hopes to be an actress, the young Françoise was born Françoise Gautsch – Arnoul is the fourth given name of her father – on June 9, 1931 in Constantine (Algeria). She takes dance and piano lessons, is a high school student in Rabat, then in Paris, tries to enter the Opera, but she is no longer of age. Teenager, she admires Edwige Feuillère in The Duchess of Langeaisand Michèle Morgan in The Law of the North. What decides it to launch out in the cinema. Thanks to Yvonne Roussel, Michèle Morgan’s sister, the pretty brunette enrolled in the drama class of Madame Andrée Bauer-Thérond attended by Anouk Aimée, Catherine Sellers and Roger Hanin. Françoise Arnoul made her debut on the big screen in 1949, at the age of 18, in the guise of a bitch in The pavement, a drama by Willy Rozier.

Quickly famous, she is especially sought after for roles of sulphurous and lost girls: The Companions of the Night, Rage to the body, Alcove secrets , the three directed by Ralph Habib. But this is the title role of Forbidden fruit according to Georges Simenon offered to him by Henri Verneuil in 1952 which magnifies his plastic. A mischievous, casual and sensual look to damn a saint, she is the mistress of a serious and poignant Fernandel.

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Nini, the pretty laundress of French Cancan

Nini, the laundress of French Cancanby Jean Renoir (1954) allows the actress to exploit another color: ” I introduced myself to him looking as much as possible like a woman emerging from a painting by Auguste Renoir», Remembers Françoise Arnoul who played with Jean Gabin, promoted owner of the Moulin Rouge. And met on the set her husband Georges Cravenne, the future creator of the César and his two great ” friends», Simone Signoret and Yves Montand. Henri Verneuil will direct it four more times, notably in a successful film which was close to his heart: Unimportant people, again with Jean Gabin on the road and also Pierre Mondy.

Discreet, the actress preferred to talk about others than herself and evoked a ” life during which I took a lot, but I also gave a lot“. In the years 1950-1960, it became a ” sacred little monster»: Yves Allégret is one of the first to notice her, Marcel Carné trusts him for The country where I come from, Henri Decoin offers him his famous black raincoat to embody the resistance of The cat , then The cat sticks out her claws, supervised by Roger Hanin and Bernard Blier, Roger Vadim transforms her into a lover in Venice with Robert Hossein for Do we ever know …, Michel Boisrond makes her the mistress of the juvenile Alain Delon inThe Path of the schoolchildren according to the work of Marcel Aymé – nobody has forgotten the scene where he draws on his legs the seam of the stockings that he cannot offer him -, and Julien Duvivier hires him for his film with sketches,The devil and the ten commandments, where she finds Fernandel.

You have to have a lot of anxiety and ask yourself the right questions to make things as good as possible.», Said Françoise Arnoul who had refusedDoctor No(1963), the first James Bond benefiting Ursula Andress. Signed with Simone Signoret the Manifesto of 343 Salopes for the freedom of abortion. And put his career on hold to encourage his companion Bernard Paul, assistant director of Costa-Gavras, “a momentous meeting», She clarified. He will offer her a role inLast exit before Roissy(1977), and together they will create a production company.

The years 1980-1990 see it in television films of Jean Marbeuf in particular. Her last film appearance dates back to 2016, she was in Paul Vecchiali’s Le Cancre. His character asked the 85-year-old director who played a man haunted by his past loves: “What did you like about me?“”Your delicacy, your intelligence, your commitmentHe replied. Three qualities that perfectly define Françoise Arnoul.

Unimportant people by Henri Verneuil in 1956, with Jean Gabin, Françoise Arnoul, Pierre Mondy …

French Cancan by Jean Renoir in 1955, with Jean Gabin, Françoise Arnoul, Maria Felix, Giani Esposito …


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