Claude Lelouch - Director

Nationality: French. Born: Paris, 30 October 1937. Family: Married Christine Cochet, 1968 (divorced), one son, two daughters; married Maie-Sophie Pochat (aka Marie-Sophie L.), three children. Career: Maker of short films as "cinereporter," 1956–58; served in Service-Cinéma des Armées (S.C.A.), 1958–60; founder, Les Films 13 production company, 1960; made some 250 "scopitones," 2–3 minute mini-musicals shown on a type of jukebox, 1960–62; directed first feature, 1962. Awards: Prize at Cannes' Amateur Film Festival, for La Mal du siecle , 1953; Oscars for Best Foreign Film and Best Story and Screenplay, and Palme d'Or, Cannes Festival, for Un Homme et une femme , 1966; Grand Prix du Cinéma français, for Vivre pour vivre , 1967; Prix Raoul Levy, 1970. Address: 15 avenue Hoche, 75008 Paris, France.

Films as Director:


Le Mal du siècle (+ pr, sc, ed); USA en vrac (+ pr, sc, ed)


Quand le rideau se lève (+ pr, sc, ed)


La Guerre du silence (+ pr, sc, ed); Les Mécaniciens de l'armée de l'air (+ pr, sc, ed); S.O.S. hélicoptère (+ pr, sc, ed)


Le Propre de l'homme ( The Right of Man ) (+ pr, sc, role as Claude); La Femme spectacle ( Night Women ) (+ pr, sc)


Une Fille et des fusils ( To Be a Crook ) (+ pr, sc, ph); Vingtquatre heures d'amant (+ pr, sc)


Les Grands Moments (+ pr, sc, ph); Jean-Paul Belmondo (+ pr, sc); Pour un maillot jaune (+ pr, sc)


Un Homme et une femme ( A Man and a Woman ) (+ co-ed, ph, sc)


Vivre pour vivre ( Live for Life ) (+ pr, sc); episode of Loin du Vietnam ( Far from Vietnam )


Treize jours en France ( Grenoble ) (+ co-ph, pr, sc); La Vie, l'amour, la mort ( Life Love Death ) (+ co-sc, pr)


Un Homme qui me plaît ( Love Is a Funny Thing ) (+ co-pr, co-sc)


Le Voyou ( The Crook ) (+ pr, sc)


Smic Smac Smoc (+ ph, pr, sc); Glories of Iran


L'Aventure c'est l'aventure ( Money Money Money ) (+ co-sc, pr); La Bonne année ( Happy New Year ) (+ co-pr, co-sc, ph)


"The Losers" episode in Visions of Eight (+ co-sc, pr)


Toute une vie ( And Now My Love ) (+ pr, sc); Mariage ( Marriage ) (+ co-sc, pr)


Le Chat et la souris ( Cat and Mouse ) (+ pr, sc); Le Bon et les méchants ( The Good and the Bad ) (+ pr, sc)


Rendez-vous (+ pr, sc); Si c'était à refaire ( If I Had to Do It All over Again ) (+ ph, pr, sc)


Another Man, Another Chance (+ co-pr, sc)


Robert et Robert (+ pr, sc)


À nous deux ( An Adventure for Two ; Us Two ) (+ pr, sc)


Les Uns et les autres (+ pr, sc)


Edith et Marcel ( Edith and Marcel ) (+ pr, sc); Bolero


Vive la Vie!


Partir, revenir ( Going and Coming Back ) (+ pr, sc)


Un Homme et une femme: Vingt ans déja ( A Man and a Woman: Twenty Years Later )


Attention Bandits ( Bandits )


L'Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté ( Itinerary of a Spoiled Child ) (+ co-pr, sc)


Il y a des Jours . . . et des Lunes ( There Were Days and Moons ) (+ co-pr, sc)


La belle histoire ( The Beautiful Story ) (+ pr, sc)


Tout ca . . . pour ca! ( All That . . . for This?! ) (+ pr, sc)


Les miserables (+ sc, pr, co-ph)


Hommes, femmes, mode d'emploi ( Men, Women: A User's Manual ) (+ sc, pr)


Hasards ou coincidences ( Chances and Coincidences ) (+ sc)


Une pour toutes ( One 4 All ) (+ sc, pr, ph, ro)

Other Films:


Happy New Year (Avildsen) (role)


By LELOUCH: books—

A Man and a Woman , with Pierre Uytterhoeven, New York, 1971.

Ma vie pour un film , with Yonnick Flot, Paris, 1986.

By LELOUCH: articles—

" Un homme et une femme Issue" of Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), December 1966.

"Claude Lelouch at the Olympic Games," an interview, in American Cinematographer (Los Angeles), November 1972.

Interview with J. Craven, in Filmmakers Newsletter (Ward Hill, Massachusetts), March 1974.

Interview with P. Lev, in Take One (Montreal), August 1977.

Interview with S. McMillin, in Filmmakers Newsletter (Ward Hill, Massachusetts), February 1978.

Interview with Tim Pulleine, in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1983.

Interview with P. Carcassonne, in Cinématographe (Paris), May 1984.

Interview and filmography in La Revue du Cinéma (Paris), March 1988.

Interview with M. Elia, in Séquences (Montreal), March 1989.

Interview in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), May 1990.

Interview with Trevor Johnston, in Time Out (London), 31 January 1996.

Interview with E. Libiot, in Cineforum (Bergamo), November 1996.

On LELOUCH: books—

Armes, Roy, French Cinema since 1946: Vol. 2—The Personal Style , New York, 1966.

Guidez, Guylaine, Claude Lelouch , Paris, 1972.

Ronchetti, Pierluigi, Claude Lelouch , Citta di Castello, Italy, 1979.

Tonnerre, Jerome, Lelouch filme les uns et les autres: histoire d'un tournage , Paris, 1982.

Lev, Peter, Claude Lelouch, Film Director , New York, 1983.

Alberti, Olympia, Lelouch Passion , Paris, 1987.

On LELOUCH: articles—

"Lelouch: table ronde," in Cinéma (Paris), May 1965.

Comolli, Jean-Louis, "Claude Lelouch, ou la bonne conscience retrouvée," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), June 1966.

Perisset, Maurice, "Le Cas Lelouch," in Cinéma (Paris), May 1969.

Carroll, Kathleen, article in Daily News (New York), 2 December 1973.

Garel, A., "A propos de Toute une vie ou Lelouchiens si vous saviez," in Image et Son (Paris), January 1975.

Eyles, A., " And Now My Love ," in Focus on Film (London), Summer 1975.

Lardine, Bob, article in Daily News (New York), 24 July 1977.

Lewis, Flora, article in The New York Times , 14 July 1978.

Profile in Millimeter (New York), October 1982.

Johnston, Sheila, "The Ins and Outs of Claude Lelouch," in Stills (London), July/August 1983.

"Claude Lelouch," in Film Dope (London), March 1986.

Hunter, Allan, " A Man and a Woman: Twenty Years Later ," in Films and Filming (London), August 1986.

Miller, Judith, article in New York Times , 14 August 1986.

Elia, M., "Claude Lelouch," in Séquences (Montreal), April 1987.

Elia, M.,"Claude Lelouch. Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté," in Séquences (Haute-Ville), March 1989.

Remy, Vincent and Rouchy, Marie-Élisabeth, "Chabadabada/Tout ça?pour ça," in Télérama (Paris), 16 June 1993.

Calderale, M., "Claude Lelouch," in Segnocinema (Vicenza), March/April 1997.

* * *

The films of Claude Lelouch may be classified under three diverse headings: romance, crime, and liberal politics. Occasionally, they focus on one specific area; more often, the categories will be combined.

A Man and a Woman is a pure and simple love story. Despite Lelouch's many commercial successes, he is most identified with this glossy, gimmicky, tremendously popular tale of script girl Anouk Aimée, a widow, and her widower counterpart, race car driver Jean-Louis Trintignant. A Man and a Woman became one of the most beloved romantic films of its time, a favorite of young couples. The scenario may be a soap opera, photographed on what some critics perceive as postcard-pretty locations; still, it is emotionally touching and truthful. Most significantly, there is refreshingly flexible camera work. Lelouch, who also served as photographer for the film (besides co-editing the film and co-authoring the screenplay), uses his camera like a paintbrush, with total ease and freedom.

More typically, Lelouch mixes several genres together in his work. He combines love and politics in Live for Life , the story of television journalist Yves Montand, whose work takes him to Vietnam and Africa; this character leaves devoted wife Annie Girardot for fashion model Candice Bergen. The filmmaker combines love and crime in Happy New Year , in which two robbers plan a caper and one falls for the proprietress of a nearby antique store. He blends crime and politics in Money, Money, Money , in which a gang of crooks realize that the changing times will allow them to gain greater profits by committing political crimes.

Lelouch has always had one eye on box office receipts, once too often selecting his subject matter with commercial potential being the sole consideration. Early in his career he directed Night Woman , a relatively erotic film about, as the filmmaker explains, "all the kinds of women one wouldn't like to marry," in the hope of earning a financial success. His first box office hit, however, was To Be a Crook , the story of four men and a deaf-and-dumb girl who become kidnappers and murderers; highlighted are gunfights and a striptease.

Lelouch does have political concerns: he participated (with Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, William Klein, and Agnes Varda) in the anti-war compilation film Far from Vietnam. And he has made quite a few delightfully clever entertainments: Happy New Year ; Money, Money, Money ; and Cat and Mouse , a mystery-comedy about a police inspector's efforts to uncover a rich philanderer's killer. Other films include The Crook and And Now My Love , which utilizes comedy, music, and drama to unite lovers Marthe Keller and Andre Dussollier. Yet he will all too often repeat himself, with uninspired results. For example, Live for Life , the follow-up to A Man and a Woman , is just too frilly, a slickly photographed soap opera lacking the warmth of its predecessor. Another Man, Another Chance is a blatant rip-off of A Man and a Woman , with James Caan the widower and Genevieve Bujold the widow.

None of Lelouch's recent films have in any way upgraded his status in the pantheon of filmmakers. Un Homme et une Femme: Vingt ans deja (A Man and a Woman: Twenty Years Later) is an uninspired attempt to capture the spark of its predecessor. L'Itineraire d'un enfant gate (Itinerary of a Spoiled Child) is the contrived tale of an industrialist who sets off on a sailing trip around the world, while Attention Bandits (Bandits) is the by-the-numbers account of a young woman who learns that her father, with whom she's been corresponding for years, is in prison for a crime he did not commit. Il y a des Jours . . . et des lunes (There Were Days and Moons) has a clever premise—the lives of various people are controlled by time reversing itself—but the result is instantly forgettable. La Belle histoire is an ambitious but muddled epic, whose scenario covers the biblical era in ancient Rome to the present. In the equally unimpressive Tout Ca . . . pour Ca! (All That . . . for This?!) , a woman attorney attempts to discern the truth from three jailed working-class crooks, whose problems stem from the women in their lives; in a parallel story, a married judge has an affair with an equally married woman lawyer. Conversely, Les miserables , an ambitious, three-hour-long epic "freely adapted" from the Victor Hugo novel, was Lelouch's best film in years. Despite his many successes, however, Claude Lelouch ultimately cannot be ranked with the top filmmakers of his generation.

—Rob Edelman

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