Nationality: French. Born: Lille, 1 October 1930. Education: Attended Lycée Janson-de-Sailly, Paris; and Coll. Des oratoriens, Juilly; studied theater under Roger Blin, and at the Dramatic Centre of the West, and the Théâtre National Populaire. Family: Married the actress Monique Chaumette, 1962, daughter: Frédérique. Career: Worked in cabaret with the comedian Jean-Pierre Darras; 1948—film
Gigi (Audry) (bit role)
Olivia (Audry) (bit role)
Agence matrimoniale (Le Chanois)
La Pointe courte (Varda)
Zazie dans le métro ( Zazie ; Zazie in the Underground ) (Malle) (as Uncle Gabriel); Ravissante (Lamoureux) (as Maurice)
Le Capitaine Fracasse (Gaspard-Huit) (as Hérode); "Lauzun" ep. of Les Amours célèbres (Boisrond) (as Louis XIV); Le Rendez-vous (Delannoy) (as Inspector Maillard); Tout l'or du monde ( All the Gold in the World ) (Clair) (as Victor Hardy)
Comme un poisson dans l'eau (Michel) (as Lucien Barlemont); "L'affaire Hugues" ("The Hugues Case") ep. of Le Crime ne paie pas ( Crime Does Not Pay ; The Gentle Art of Murder ) (Oury) (as Clovis Hugues); Thérèse Desqueyroux ( Thérèse ) (Franju) (as Bernard Desqueyroux); Le Massaggiatrici (Fulci) (as Bellini)
Ballade pour un voyou (Bonnardot) (as Inspector Mathieu); Clémentine Chérie (Chevalier) (as Director General); La Porteuse de pain (Cloche) (as Jacques Garaud/Paul Harmant)
Cyrano et d'Artagnan (Gance) (as Louis XIII); Mort, où est ta victoire? ( Death, Where Is Thy Victory? ) (Bromberger) (as Brassy); Les Copains (Robert) (as Bénin); Monsieur (Le Chanois) (as Edmond Bernadac)
Lady L (Ustinov) (as Ambroise Gérôme)
La Vie de château ( A Matter of Resistance ) (Rappeneau) (as Jérôme); Qui êtes-vous, Polly Magoo? (Klein) (as Jean-Jacques Georges); Les Sultans (Delannoy) (as gynecologist); Tendre Voyou ( Tender Scoundrel ) (Jean Becker) (as Bibi Dumonceux); Le Voyage du père (de la Patellière) (as traveler)
The Night of the Generals ( La Nuit des generaux ) (Litvak) (as Inspector Morand); L'Une et l'autre ( The Other One ) (Allio) (as André); "Snow" ep. of Woman Times Seven ( Sette volta donna ; Sept fois femme ) (De Sica) (as Victor)
Alexandre le bienheureux ( Very Happy Alexander ; Happy Alexander ) (Robert) (title role); Adolphe, ou l'âge tendre (Toublanc-Michel) (as de Pourtalain)
The Assassination Bureau (Dearden) (as Lucoville); Mister Freedom (Klein) (as Moujik Man); Justine (Strick and Cukor) (as Pombal); Clérambard (Robert) (title role); Topaz (Hitchcock) (as Henri Jarré)
Les Caprices de Marie ( Give Her the Moon ) (de Broca) (as Gabriel)
Time for Loving ( Paris Was Made for Lovers ) (Miles) (as Marcel); Les Aveux les plus doux (Molinaro) (as Inspector Muller); Murphy's War (Yates) (as Louis Brézan)
La Vieille Fille (Blanc) (as Gabriel Marcassus); La Mandarine (Molinaro) (as Georges); Le Trèfle à cinq feuilles ( Five-Leaf Clover ) (Freess) (as Alfred); L'Attentat ( Plot ; The French Conspiracy ) (Boisset) (as Garcin); Siamo tutti im libertà provvisoria (Scarpelli) (as Judge Jannacone)
Poil de carotte (Graziani) (as M. Lepic); Le Serpent ( The Serpent ; Night Flight from Moscow ) (Verneuil) (as Berthon); La Grande Bouffe ( The Big Feast ; Blow-Out ) (Ferreri) (as Phillippe); Touche pas à la femme blanche ( Don't Touch White Women ) (Ferreri) (as Gen. Terry)
L'Horloger de Saint-Paul ( The Clockmaker ; The Watchmaker of Lyon ) (Tavernier) (as Michel Descombe); Un Nuage entre les dents (Pico) (as Malisard); Les Gaspards (Tchernia) (as Gaspard de Montfermeil); Le Secret ( The Secret ) (Enrico) (as Thomas Berthelot)
Le Jeu avec le feu (Robbe-Grillet) (as Georges de Saxe); "Les Nobles" ep. of Que la fête commence! ( Let Joy Reign Supreme ) (Tavernier) (as Philippe d'Orléans); Le Vieux Fusil ( The Old Gun ) (Enrico) (as Julien Dandieu)
Amici miei ( My Friends ) (Monicelli) (as Giorgio Perozzi); Monsieur Albert (Renard) (title role); Le Juge et l'assassin ( The Judge and the Assassin ) (Tavernier) (as Judge Emile Rousseau); Il commune senso del pudore ( A Common Sense of Modesty ) (Sordi) (as Constanzo); Une Femme à sa fenêtre ( A Woman at Her Window ) (Granier-Deferre) (as Raoul Malfosse); Coup de foudre (Enrico) (as Ladislas)
Le désert des Tartares ( Il deserto dei tartari ; The Desert of the Tartars ) (Zurlini) (as "The General"); Un Taxi mauve ( The Purple Taxi ) (Boisset) (as Philippe Marchal)
La Barricade du point du jour (Richon) (as Eugène Pottier); Tendre poulet ( Dear Detective ; Dear Inspector ) (de Broca) (as Antoine Lemercier); Le Témoin ( The Witness ; Il Testimone ) (Mocky) (as Robert Maurisson); Due pezzi di pane (Citti); Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? ( Too Many Chefs ) (Kotcheff) (as Jean-Claude Moulineau)
Salto nel vuoto ( A Leap into the Void ) (Bellocchio); La Mort en direct ( Deathwatch ) (Tavernier)
On a volé la cuisse de Jupiter ( Jupiter's Thigh ) (de Broca) (as Antoine Lemercier); Une Semaine de vacances ( A Week's Vacation ) (Tavernier) (as Michel Descombe); Pile ou face ( Heads or Tails ) (Enrico) (as Baroni)
Tre fratelli ( Three Brothers ) (Rosi) (as Raffaele Giuranna); Il faut tuer Birgitt Haas ( Birgitt Haas Must Be Killed ) (Heynemann); Coup de torchon ( Clean Slate ) (Tavernier) (as Lucien Cordier)
L'Étoile du nord ( The North Star ) (Granier-Deferre) (as Edouard Binet); Amici miei, atto due (Monicelli) (as Giorgio Perozzi)
L'Africain ( The African ) (de Broca) (as Victor); Un Ami de Vincent ( A Friend of Vincent ) (Granier-Deferre); Le Grand Carnaval (Arcady) (as Ètienne Labrouche)
Aurora (Ponzi—for TV); Fort Saganne (Corneau) (as Dubreuilh); Les Ripoux ( My New Partner ; Le Cop ) (Zidi) (as René); Souvenirs, souvenirs (Zeitoun)
Le Quatrième Pouvoir ( The Fourth Power ) (Leroy) (as Yves Dorget); Speriamo che sia femmina ( Let's Hope It's a Girl ) (Monicelli) (as Count Leonardo); L'Été prochain ( Next Summer ) (Trintignant) (as Edouard); Qualcosa di biondo ( Aurora ) (Ponzi)
La Femme secrète ( The Secret Wife ) (Grall) (as Pierre Franchin); Masques (Chabrol) (as Christian Legagneur); Twist Again a Moscou ( Twist Again in Moscow ) (Poure) (as Igor Tatiatev); Autour de minuit ( 'Round Midnight ) (Tavernier) (as Redon)
Noyade interdite ( Widow's Walk ) (Granier-Deferre) (as Molinat); La famiglia ( The Family ) (Scola) (as Jean-Luc); Gli occhiali d'oro ( The Gold Rimmed Glasses ; Les Lunettes d'or ) (Montaldo) (as Dr. Fadigati)
Chouans! (de Broca) (as Savinien de Kerfardec); Il Frullo del passero (Mingozzi); Cinema Paradiso ( Nuovo Cinema Paradiso ) (Tornatore) (as Alfredo)
La Vie et rien d'autre ( Life and Nothing But ) (Tavernier) (as Maj. Dellaplanne); The Return of the Musketeers (Lester) (as Cardinal Mazarin)
Ripoux contre ripoux ( My New Partner II ; Le Cop 2 ) (Zidi) (as René); Faux et l'usage de Faux ( Forgery and the Use of Forgeries ) (Heynemann) (as Anatole Hirsch)
Uranus (Berri) (as Watrin); Dimenticare Palermo ( The Palermo Connection ) (Rosi) (as the hotel manager); J'embrasse pas ( I Don't Kiss ) (Téchiné) (as Romain); "The Blue Dog" ep. of La Domenica s pecialmente ( Especially on Sunday ) (Tornatore) (as Amleto); Rossini, Rossini (as Gioacchino Rossini)
Nous Deux ( The Two of Us ) (Graziani) (as Toussaint); Max et Jérémie ( Max and Jeremy ) (Devers) (as Robert "Max" Maxendre); Contre l'oubli ( Against Oblivion ) (Akerman and others) (as himself); Zuppa Di Pesce ( Fish Soup ) (Infascelli) (as Alberto)
Tango (Leconte) (as François,the elegant man)
Il Postino ( The Postman ) (Radford) (as Pablo Neruda); Veillées d'armes ( The Troubles We've Seen: A History of Journalism in Wartime ) (Marcel Ophüls—doc) (as himself); Grosse Fatigue ( Dead Tired ) (Blanc) (as himself); La Fille de D'Artagnan ( D'Artagnan's Daughter ) (Tavernier) (as D'Artagnan); Les Milles (Grall) (as Le General)
Le Roi de Paris ( The King of Paris ) (Maillet) (as Victor Derval); Facciamo paradiso (Monicello) (as Bertelli)
Les Grands ducs (Leconte) (as Victor Vialat); Fantôme avec chauffeur (Oury) (as Philippe Bruneau-Tessier); Le Veilleur de nuit (TV) (de Broca) (as Monsieur) Philippe le bienheureux (TV) (as himself); Marianna Ucria (Faenza)
Soleil (Hanin) (as Joseph Lévy); Le Bossu ( On Guard ) (de Broca) (as Philippe d'Orléans); Les Palmes de Monsieur Schutz (Pinoteau) (as Monsieur Schutz)
Mio figlio ha 70 anni
Le Pique-nique de Lulu Kreutz
Interview with I. F. McAsh, in Films (London), August 1982.
Interview with Joseph Hurley and Bertrand Tavernier, in Films in Review (New York), March and April 1983.
Interview with M. Amiel, in Cinéma (Paris), April 1983.
Interview with J. Zimmer and D. Parra, in Revue du Cinéma (Paris), April 1987.
Interview with M. Buruiana, in Séquences (Montreal), June 1989.
"La guerre n'est pas finie," interview with K. Jaehne, in Cineaste (New York), no 1, 1990.
Interview with G. Midding, in Filmbulletin (Winterthur, Switzerland), no. 4, 1991.
"Max et Jérémie," interview with Thierry Klifa in Studio Magazine (Paris) no. 66, October 1992.
"Tango," interview with Y. Poncelet, in Grand Angle (Mariembourg, Belgium), February 1993.
"Philippe Noiret má rád svou profesi," interview with Pavla Frýdlová, in Film a Doba , Winter 1994.
"Le roi de Paris," interview with M. Venchiarutti and P. Auvertus, in Grand Angle (Mariembourg), February 1995.
"Les Grands ducs," interview in Première (Paris), no. 228, March 1996.
Interview in Télérama (Paris), no. 2481, 30 July, 1997.
Maillet, Dominique, Philippe Noiret , Paris, 1978; rev. ed., 1989.
Ecran (Paris), March 1978.
Ciné Revue (Paris), 10 February 1983.
Schupp, P., "Philippe Noiret, la stabilité dans la diversité," in Séquences (Montreal), April 1984.
Stars (Mariembourg, Belgium), March 1990.
Dominicus, M., "Liegen met de blik van eel uilskuiken," in Skrien (Amsterdam, Netherlands), December 1990/January 1991.
"Philippe Noiret," in Film Dope (Nottingham, England), July 1992.
Stars (Mariembourg), Winter 1992, Autumn 1994.
Le Film Français (Paris), no. 2540, 6 January 1995.
* * *
A tall, heavily built actor who only established himself in his thirties, Philippe Noiret has no youthful role to his credit and has usually depicted middle-aged, and often middle-class, characters. Though initially cast in fairly predictable secondary roles such as the outsmarted property developer in Tout l'or du monde , he gradually made his mark both in comic creations and more serious roles. He excelled as the complacent, sanctimonious husband of Thérèse Desqueyroux and as the ruthless self-seeking businessman of La Porteuse de pain , while his comic gifts were revealed as the diffident, city-fearing Jérôme of La Vie de château ; as the transvestite artiste of Zazie dans le métro ; and as the bogus priest giving sex sermons in Les Copains . With his endearing performance as the idle, misogynistic farmer of Alexandre le bienheureux , Noiret confirmed his position as a leading comic actor.
His already varied career now became international. Noiret's first English part came as a libertine politician in Lady L . before playing a politician-cum-brothel keeper in The Assassination Bureau , a Nazi-hunter in The Night of the Generals , and in Woman Times Seven an unhappily married bourgeois. In America he was the sexually deficient diplomat of Justine , the NATO economist of Topaz , and the timid engineer of Murphy's War . Now a commercial star, Noiret generously appeared for emerging directors, but despite good performances the films were invariably commercial failures.
It was not until the 1970s that he worked regularly with Italian directors, often in co-productions and initially in outrageous satirical roles. His performances for Ferreri in La Grande Bouffe and Touche pas à la femme blanche were landmarks: in the former as a degenerate oedipal judge hosting a decadent party; in the latter as General Terry in a loose parody of Custer's last stand. Weightier roles came as the cynical reporter in Pico's Un Nuage entre les dents , as Judge Jannacone in Scarpelli's Siamo tutti im libertà provvisoria , or as the magistrate in Rosi's Tre fratelli . For Enrico in Le Vieux Fusil he gave an intensely moving portrayal of a surgeon dedicated to avenging the murder of his family by the Nazis. Further notable interpretations came as the homosexual professor driven to suicide in Montaldo's Gli occhiali d'oro and, for Tornatore, two sensitive portrayals of atypical relationships: in Cinema Paradiso as Alfredo, the avuncular projectionist at a failing provincial cinema affectionately sharing his love of film with an adolescent enthusiast, and in La Domenica specialmente , as Amleto, a dog-hating village barber-cum-cobbler who, eventually won over by a persistent, friendly stray, is devastated at the dog's cruel death. Now in his sixties, Noiret was cast by other Italian directors in a series of roles reflecting his age. For Monicello he was the older Rossini in Rossini, Rossini! and as the middle-class father coping with his daughter's rebellious conduct in Facciamo paradiso ; for Infascelli, he was Alberto, a mercurial film producer, again having trouble with his daughter in Zuppa di pesce ; for Graziani, playing opposite his wife Monique Chaumette, he became Toussant, a former subway worker, enjoying retirement in Corsica ( Nous Deux ). Minor roles during this period saw him as a traditional Sicilian patriarch in Faenza's 18th-century costume drama Marianna Ucria and as the hotel director Gianna Mucci in Rossi's political thriller Dimenticare Palermo . However, his most commanding Italian role of the decade came in Radford's touching study of friendship in Il Postino , as the exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, acting as sympathetic confidant and wise counsellor to his dedicated postman, innately gifted for poetry, but too shy to declare himself to his childhood sweetheart.
Over his long career Noiret has worked with a host of French directors, notably with de Broca in highly successful comic roles, Granier-Deferre in darker crime dramas or with Zidi as the charming, cynical and corrupt policeman René of Les Ripoux and the sequel Ripoux contre Ripoux . It has been through Tavernier, however, that Noiret's depth of talent has been revealed. In L'Horloger de Saint-Paul he was outstanding as Michel Descombe, the quiet widower protecting his criminal son, yet finding friendship with the investigator; in Que la fête commence! he brilliantly conveyed the human complexity of the Regent as a public and private person; in Le Juge et l'assassin he was the domineering and chillingly cruel investigating magistrate; and in Coup de torchon he was masterful as a cunning, authoritarian, and lubricious colonial policeman. There were only minor roles in Une Semaine de vacances (again as Michel Descombe) and as Redon in Autour de minuit , but in La Vie et rien d'autre Noiret again triumphed as the dedicated Major Dellaplanne intent on identifying the war-dead, despite official opposition. In a pastiche of the swashbuckling genre, La Fille de D'Artagnan , Noiret resumed his association with Tavernier as a now shabby, out-of-favor D'Artagnan, living as a fencing master.
Memorable roles, both major and minor, have come with other directors: as the nasty, petty crook of Monsieur Albert (Renard); as the child murderer of Le Témoin (Mocky); as the principled journalist in Le Quatrième Pouvoir (Leroy); and as the corrupt television presenter of Chabrol's Masques . In La Vieille Fille (Blanc), Noiret gave one of his finest performances as the shy Gabriel Marcassus tentatively building a relationship with a withdrawn spinster. Among minor, but masterfully executed, roles he has appeared as an actor in L'Une et l'autre ; the headmaster of Souvenirs, souvenirs ; and, untypically, as a morbid artist in La Femme secrète .
In the last decade Noiret has worked successfully with well established directors such as Berri and Oury and relative newcomers like Devers, Leconte and Techiné. In Berri's Occupation drama Uranus he excelled as Watrin, a shy, humanist teacher suffering in the knowledge of his dead wife's infidelity, while in a less successful comic role for Oury he played a murdered businessman who, now invisible, returns with his argumentative driver to watch over his family and friends ( Fantôme avec chauffeur ). For Techiné he played a relatively minor but key role as a gay, sharp-witted TV presenter in J'embrasse pas , while for Leconte he enjoyed two substantial comic roles: as the eccentric, misogynist judge addicted to porn films and prepared to condone murder ( Tango ) and as a self-confident, but unsuccessful, boulevard artist, Victor Vialat, on tour with a corrupt manager ( Les Grands Ducs ). He appeared as himself in Blanc's film about acting Grosse Fatigue and in the directorial debut of his biographer Dominique Maillet, Le Roi de Paris , as the popular actor Victor Derval, the toast of thirties Parisian society, involved with a stage struck young actress. In Faux et usage de faux (Heynemann) he was the larger than life figure Anatole Hirsch, a cigar-chewing writer successfully publishing under a pseudonym in a reworking of Romain Gary's career. Further notable roles came as Schutz, a research institute director desperate for recognition in Pinoteau's Les Palmes de M. Schuz ; as Max a sophisticated and meticulous former professional killer who befriends his would-be assassin Jérémie in Devers' Max et Jérémie, and in Graal's account of German detainees in France during the Armistice he played the General prepared to hand over refugees to the Nazis. He has also appeared in documentaries about war-reporting, Ophul's Veillées d'armes and Amnesty International's film about political detainees, Contre l'oubli. In a career exploring more than 130 disparate roles, Philippe Noiret has, in turn, appalled as the vicious, depraved, or despicable; reassured as the solid, dependable authority figure; disturbed and amused with his subversive presence in comedy, satire, and farce or revealed with consummate delicacy complex facets of human nature in studies of individual relationships. His contribution to European cinema has been outstanding, not only in high performance standards but also in his encouragement of talented newcomers.
—R. F. Cousins