Francis Lai - Writer




Composer. Nationality: French. Born: Francis Albert Lai in Nice, 26 April 1932. Education: Attended Lycée Saint-Philippe, Nice. Family: Married Dagmar Pütz, 1968; two sons, one daughter. Career: 1950—orchestra musician; then accompanist for Claude Goaty, 1955, Edith Piaf, 1960–63, and Mireille Mathieu, 1965; composer of songs for Piaf, Gréco, Montand, and others; 1966—first film score, for A Man and a Woman , the first of many films for Lelouch; also composer for radio and TV. Awards: Academy Award, for Love Story , 1970.


Films as Composer:

1966

Un Homme et une femme ( A Man and a Woman ) (Lelouch); Masculin-Féminin ( Masculine-Feminine ) (Godard) (co)

1967

La Louve solitaire (Logereau); The Bobo (Parrish); Mon amour, mon amour (Trintignant); Le Soleil des voyous ( Action Man ; Leather and Nylon ) (Delannoy); I'll Never Forget What's 'is Name (Winner); Vivre pour vivre ( Live for Life ) (Lelouch)

1968

Mayerling (Young); Treize jours en France ( Grenoble ) (Lelouch and Reichenbach—doc)

1969

La Vie, l'amour, la mort ( Life, Love, Death ) (Lelouch); Three into Two Won't Go (Hall); Hannibal Brooks (Winner); House of Cards (Guillermin); La Modification (Worms); Un Homme qui me plaît ( Love Is a Funny Thing ) (Lelouch); Le Passager de la pluie ( Rider on the Rain ) (Clément)

1970

Du soleil plein les yeux (Boisrond); Madly (Kahane); Le Voyou ( The Crook ) (Lelouch); The Games (Winner); Dans la poussière du soleil (Balducci); Hello-Goodbye (Negulesco); Love Story (Hiller); Berlin Affair (Rich)

1971

Smic, Smac, Smoc (Lelouch) (+ ro); Le Petit Matin (Albicocco); L'Odeur des fauves (Balducci); Les Pétroleuses ( The Legend of Frenchie King ; The Petroleum Girls ) (Christian-Jaque)

1972

Le Petit Poucet (Boisrond); Les Hommes (Vigne); L'Aventure c'est l'aventure ( Money Money Money ) (Lelouch); La Course du lièvre à travers les champs ( And Hope to Die ) (Clément)

1973

Un Homme libre ( A Free Man ) (Muller); La Bonne Année ( Happy New Year ) (Lelouch)

1974

Child under a Leaf (Broomfield); La Ronde ( Le Baiser ) (Schenk); The Sex Symbol (Rich) (co); Toure une vie ( And Now My Love ; A Lifetime ) (Lelouch); Par le sang des autres ( With the Blood of Others ) (Simenon); Un Amour de pluie ( Loving in the Rain ) (Brialy); A Visit to a Chief's Son (Johnson); Emmanuelle (Jaeckin)

1975

Le Chat et la souris ( Cat and Mouse ) (Lelouch); Le Baby-Sitter (Clément); Mariage (Lelouch); Emmanuelle II: L'Antivierge ( Emmanuelle II: Joys of a Woman ) (Giacobetti)

1976

Le Bon et les méchants ( The Good and the Bad ) (Lelouch); Si c'était à refaire ( A Second Chance ) (Lelouch); Le Corps de mon ennemi ( The Body of My Enemy ) (Verneuil)

1977

Anima persa (Risi); Bilitis (Hamilton); Un Autre Homme, une autre chance ( Another Man, Another Chance ) (Lelouch); Nido de viudas ( Widows' Nest ) (Navarro)

1978

International Velvet (Forbes); Robert et Robert (Lelouch); Oliver's Story (Korty); Passion Flower Hotel (Farwagi); Les Ringards ( The Small Timers ) (Pouret)

1979

A nous deux ( Us Two ) (Lelouch)

1981

Les Uns et les autres ( Bolero ; Within Memory ) (Lelouch); Madame Claude 2 ( Intimate Moments ) (Mimet); Beyond the Reef (Clarke)

1982

Salut la puce (Balducci)

1983

Edith et Marcel ( Edith and Marcel ) (Lelouch); Canicule ( Dogsday ) (Boisset)

1984

Les Ripoux ( My New Partner ; Le Cop ) (Zidi); J'ai recontré le Père Noel ( Here Comes Santa Claus ) (Gion)

1985

Marie (Donaldson)

1986

Association de malfaiteurs (Zidi); Un Homme et une femme: vingt ans déjà ( A Man and a Woman: 20 Years Later ) (Lelouch)

1987

Attention Bandits ( Bandits ) (Lelouch); Oci ciornie ( Dark Eyes ) (Mikhalkov)

1988

Bernadette (Delannoy); Itinéraire d'un enfant gaté (Lelouch); Les Pyramides bleues (Dombasle)

1989

Der Aten ; Earth Girls Are Easy (Temple) (song); Trop belle pour toi ( Too Beautiful for You ) (Blier)

1990

Il y a des jours . . . et des lunes ( There Were Days . . . and Moons ) (Lelouch) (co); Provincial (Gion); Ripoux contre Ripoux ( My New Partner II ; Le Cop 2 ) (Zidi)

1991

Les Cléfs du paradis (DeBroca); La Belle Histoire (Lelouch)

1992

Tolgo il disturbo (Risi); L'inconnu dans la maison (Lautner)

1993

Tout ça pour ça (Lelouch)

1994

Le voleur at la menteuse (Boujenah)

1995

Les Misérables (Lelouch)

1996

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

1997

My Best Friend's Wedding (Hogan)

2000

Une pour toutes ( One 4 All ) (Lelouch)



Publications


By LAI: article—

Film Français (Paris), 16 January 1981.

CinémAction (Conde-sur-Noireau), September 1990.


On LAI: articles—

Ecran (Paris), September 1975.

Film Français (Paris), 3 February 1978.

Film Français (Paris), 2 February 1979.

Score (Lelystad, Netherlands), December 1980.

Lelouch, Claude, in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1983.


* * *


Francis Lai's first movie credits were for Masculine-Feminine and A Man and a Woman , both released in 1966. Lai's participation in Masculine-Feminine went almost unnoticed, but his score for A Man

Francis Lai (right)
Francis Lai (right)
and a Woman made him an internationally prominent film composer. A Man and a Woman brought honors and recognition to both the director Claude Lelouch (Grand Prize at Cannes, two Academy Awards) and composer Lai (gold record, many versions of the theme song).

The music of A Man and a Woman is simple, lyrical, and sentimental. Lai's songs and Pierre Barouh's lyrics are often charming. But the original aspect of this score lies in the combination of music and image. Music in A Man and a Woman often has an importance at least equal to the images. Music provides emotion, tempo, and movement, while Lelouch's swooping camera and rapid montage add impressionistic details. This is especially true of the film's last half hour, where Lelouch and Lai present several fine songs-with-montage and very few dialogue scenes. In contemporary terms, one could describe the concluding half hour as a suite of music videos. The integration of image and score in A Man and a Woman was widely copied in the 1960s and 1970s.

Lai and Lelouch collaborated on a number of films. Their working method was unusual. Lai would write the main themes for a film after discussions with the director, but before production. The music then served as a guide for filming and editing. Writing music before rather than after production makes the composer much more of a creative partner to the writer and director than is normally the case.

The Lai-Lelouch collaborations are surprisingly diverse. Live for Life and Love Is a Funny Thing have sentimental scores and montage sequences on the model of A Man and a Woman . Treize jours en France , a documentary of the Winter Olympics of 1968, has a lovely score of four interwoven songs which pulls together the sometimes scattered images. The score of The Crook consists mainly of one brash pop song fragmented and repeated in various ways. In Smic, Smac, Smoc , Lai appears on camera as a blind accordionist to play the film's theme song. The Good and the Bad , set in the 1940s, has an interesting period score, with Lai quoting liberally from Glenn Miller. And Now My Love and Les Uns et les autres , both ambitious generational sagas, use music and image to evoke a number of historical periods. And Now My Love 's amalgam of Lai originals, Gilbert Bécaud vocals, and American and French pop tunes is more successful than the even more eclectic mix ("Bolero," Beethoven, Glenn Miller, Francis Lai, Michel Legrand) of Les Uns et les autres .

Aside from his work with Lelouch, Lai is best-known for his Academy Award-winning score for Love Story . The sad, sentimental theme for that film has become a pop standard, and he went on to write another strong theme for Oliver's Story , the sequel. Lai's other credits include the haunting music for Rider on the Rain and the very sentimental score for International Velvet . He has worked extensively in France, England, and the United States, and he has composed for everything from historical epics to soft-core pornography.

Lai's great strength is his ability to shape a score to the needs of a particular film. Although he is one of Muzak's favorite composers—half a dozen of his songs can be heard at the local supermarket or dentist's office—he is also a competent craftsman of film music, with several fine scores to his credit.

—Peter Lev

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