Philippe Noiret (1930-2006)
- Paul Frankeur, Faut pas prendre les enfants du bon Dieu pour des canards sauvages, France, 1968. Prodigious dialoguist-turned-auteur Michel Audiard (129 scripts in 36 years) preferred filming with his pals. He’d never worked with Noiret, Jean-Pierre Darras, Jean Yanne, so simply changed them for Frankeur (they made nine films together), Bernard Blier (18) and André(Pousse (10) The March shooting was fun, but the release clashed with May ’68 when France blew up...
- Jean Yanne, Que la bête meure (US: This Man Must Die), France-Italy, 1969. The stately, aristocrat wannabe easily refused “the beast.” He preferred horses to boats: as an eternal sea-sickness victim, he couldn’t handle the sailing scene. In his second of four Claude Chabrol films, Yanne was perfect. “Surly and brutal,” said Chicago critic Roger Ebert, “and so filled with his own vanity that we almost like him more than the tight-lipped, impassive hero.” Noiret made it up to “Cha-Cha”by starring in Masques, 1986 - on terra firma.
- Jacques Brel, Mon oncle Benjamin, France-Italy, 1969. For some 20 years, auteur Bernard Blier had dreamt of playing novelist Claude Tillier’s hero. Noiret nearly beat his old rival - friend and foe - but neither’s project flew. And neither was young or agile enough when realisateurÈdouard Molinaro set it up for Brel.Blier still beat Noiret - by playing the Marquis de Cambyse.
- Francis Blanche, L’Étalon, France, 1970. “Much to his dishonour,” said réalisateur Jean-Pierre Mocky, Noiret quit in disagreement with day-by-day salary payments (due to lack of insurance cover for co-star Bourvil’s cancer). Bourvil managed three more films before his death. Noiret and Mocky made up with Le témoin, 1978.
- Michel Piccoli, Grandeur nature/Life Size, France-Italy-Spain, 1974. Man abandoning wife and mistress for an inflatable sex-doll. They eventually have a suicide pact. He drowns. She floats.
- Max Von Sydow, Three Days of the Condor, 1975. Committed to home product, Noiret felt “honoured by the statureof my replacement.”
- François Truffaut, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1976. Steven Spielberg wanted only Truffaut (and could hardly believe he agreed). His (eleven) producers also put out feelers toNoiret, Yves Montand, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Lino Ventura to be Claude Lacombe (based on real-life French UFO expert and documentary director Jacques Vallée).
- Donald Sutherland, Les Liens de sang/Blood Relatives, France-Canada, 1977. Chabrol calls again... but could not get Noiret until Masques , 1987.Besides only Chabrol could think of Noiret as a French version of Ed McBain’s cop art, Steve Carella. Once Canada entered the picture (literally), Sutherland fitted the Montreal bill far better. Yet the French realisateur known as second (102nd?) Hitchcock - a Hitch fan at least - never persuaded (or afforded) a Hitch scenarist, namely Evan Hunter, aka McBain, to write the script.Dommage!
- Pierre Mondy, Vas-y Maman! (US: Take It From The Top), France, 1978. For her sole writer-producing gig, journalist turned novelist Nathalie Buron wanted a screen reunion of Noiret and Annie Girardot (so good the year before in in Tendre poulet). Buron wrote him. Never got a reply. They later found their summer houses were quite close and often unexpectedly met up in the local bookshop and chatted. But never about why he never replied.
- Vadim Glowna, La mort en direct (UK/US: Death Watch), France-West Germany-UK, 1979. Bad health prevented the Bertrand Tavernier regular from playing Romy Schneider’s husband. The Lyons réalisateur turned to Delon. Yes, well, for obvious reasons. But he was not interested. For obvious reasons -their history would send the wrong message to the public.Enter: the German veteran who debuted in Immensee in 1942. Aged eight months.
- Victor Lanoux, Y a-t-il un Français dans la salle? France, 1981. The caustic Jean-Pierre Mocky was making mock again (what else?) and all of his choices backed away from sending up the French parliamentary system: Noiret, Yves Montand and Jean Rochefort.
- Bruno Cremer, Un jeu brutal, France,1983. “Another regret. There are moments when you feel at your most vulnerable, fragile - and I suppose I was a little tired. And indeed scared to enter that character and his universe.”
- Michael Lonsdale, Der Name der Rose/The Name of the Rose, France-Italy-Germany, 1986. For Umberto Eco’s Abbott, Noiret was considered as well as the Italian Bond villain from Thunderball, 1965. Lonsdale was the more recent Bond villain in Moonraker, 1978.
- Jean Yanne, Fucking Fernand,France, 1987. First réalisateur Paul Vecchiali chose Noiret and Bernard Giraudeau. The second, Gérard Mordillat,made it with Yanne and Terry Lhermite.
- Donel Donnelly, The Godfather: Part III, 1991.