Pierre Fresnay

  1. Jacques Baumer, Derrière la façade,  France, 1938.     Sam Spiegel’s French production was a star-packed whodunnit: Carette, Jules Berry, Gaby Morlay, Michel Simon, Gabrielle Dorziat, Marguerite Moreno, Erich Von Stroheim.  But, ultimately, not  Raimu and Fresnasy (Marcel Pagnol’s immortal César and Marius) as the flics, Boucheron and Lambert.  Realisateur Georges Lacombe went on to make early films of Michèle Morgan and, more memorabbly… Brigitte Bardot.
  2. Fernandel, l’Amoir volante, (US: The Cupboard Was Bare),  France, 1948.     The  journalist-novelist-scenarist-director Carlo Rim suggested his meek M’sier Pic, should be Fresnay, François Périer or Michel Simon. “You mad?” said his producteur, “he’s perfect for Fernandel.”  “You mad! “ cried Rim. “We haven’t spoken  to one another for five years!” Not any more. And the comic promised, for once, “to do the impossible and play the role exactly as written, M’sieur Rim.” Result: “Probably his best film,” said critic André Bazin.
  3. Broderick Crawford, Il Bidone, Italy-France, 1955.    Normally, Federico Fellini cast faces first (from photos of stars, actors, extras, amateurs, street faces) and their (dubbed) voices afterwards. He  found  his Augusto  from All The King’s Mennot the film,  but a vertically torn poster in Piazza Mazzini.  The hangdog look  was  perfect but who the hell was “Broderi”…?  Fellini found out – and also about Broderi’s alcoholism which made shooting a living hell. The maestro wished he’d gone with either of the  Paris suggestions, Fresnay or Jean Servais.
  4. Charles Boyer, Fanny, 1960.     A typical Hollywood idea – the  Marius of 1932-36 playing his own father,  César, at age 63.
  5. Claude Dauphin, Egaltine, France, 1972.     “The role is charming but secondary – and I’m worried about kissing Valentine Tessier on the mouth.” Like all the old-timers that Jean-Claude Brialy (as a director) tried to bring back, Fresnay was fussy about the quality  of a comeback role  – he wanted something… more…  important. 


 Birth year: 1897Death year: 1975Other name: Casting Calls:  5