The Eye of INA: Yves Montand, centenary of the king of the troubadours who dreamed of being president

Each week, find the treasures of our archives with Madelen. Actor, singer, star in Hollywood, the former protégé of Edith Piaf, whose centenary is being celebrated, will also be a committed citizen. For the centenary of his birth, three documentaries from the INA platform evoke these different facets.

Yves, Simone and Hollywood made in 1960 recalls the time when while the actress received an Oscar for her role in Room at the top, her husband becomes, on the Broadway stages, the king of the French troubadours. It is also the time of a love affair between Montand and Marilyn Monroe, which entered history as the first scandal revealed by a press that we did not yet call people. Simone Signoret will forgive her for a prank that she will evoke thus, in front of a journalist: “Do you know a lot of men who would remain insensitive while having Marilyn in their arms?”

Directed in 1976 by Chris Marker The loneliness of the background singer, remains an essential reference. The images were shot during a recital given by Montand in 1974 for the benefit of Chilean refugees. He hasn’t set foot on a stage for six years and the rehearsals are going to require even more effort than usual from the perfectionist he has never ceased to be.

Each step, each gesture, the least of his facial expressions require hours of work in front of a mirror or in the company of his pianist, Bob Castella who is at the same time his trusted man, his secretary and his favorite pain-reliever.

Every time the singer makes a wrong note, it is the accompanist’s fault. With the bad faith of which the southerners may be capable, he covers him with reproaches and insults to which the person concerned never pays attention. He knows it’s a game and waits for the storm to pass. The affection between the two men is such that the day after Montand’s death, Castella will never put his fingers on his keyboard again.

Montand, a French Ronald Reagan?

In February 1984, on his return from a triumphant tour of recitals in France and the United States, Montand again created the event by providing commentary by Long live the crisis, one of the first docu-fictions in the history of the small screen.

Directed by Vincent Manniez, it evokes, in the form of false reports, the state of the economy in the world. The 20 million viewers who followed this program and the political class are impressed by its sense of pedagogy.

Some predict a political career for him and a crazy rumor begins to circulate: advised by men and women in the shadows, he would consider running for the presidential election of 1988. The first polls, very promising, make observers say that he has every chance of becoming the “Ronald Reagan French“. An event will slow down his ambitions: the death of Simone Signoret in 1985. Montand believed in it but he lost his compass. On December 7, 1987, guest of Anne Sinclair in Questions at home, he announces that he has decided not to run for the supreme office. “I do not have sufficient knowledge”, he says.

Behind the scenes, he admits to having hesitated for a long time before giving up.
At the end of a royal career, would he have made a good President? History will never tell.

Find here Yves Montand, the loneliness of the background singer . Free subscription on Madelen two months, then 2.99 euros per month.


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