20 July 2017

Pascale Roberts

French actress Pascale Roberts (1933) is active in the French cinema and television since 1954. From her femme fatale parts in B-thrillers and comedies in the 1950s, she grew into mother roles. She is best known for her parts in A-films by Costa-Gravas, Yves Boisset and Robert Guédiguian, and for her many appearances on French TV.

Pascale Roberts
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, presented by Les Carbones Korès Carboplane, no. 813. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Pascale Roberts
French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 466. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Hard Boiled Crime Film

Pascale Roberts was born in Boulogne-sur-Seine, France in 1933. Her mother was a director at Elisabeth Arden and among her clients were Martine Carol, Edwige Feuillère and Dora Doll.

Through Martine Carol, Pascale became an extra in Madame du Barry (Christian-Jaque, 1954). Pascale decided to go to acting classes in Paris, against the wishes of her mother. She had a small part in the comedy Une vie de garçon/A Boy’s Life (Jean Boyer, 1954) and a bit part as a girl at a poker game in the hard boiled crime film Les femmes s'en balancent/Dames Don’t Care (Bernard Borderie, 1954) starring Eddie Constantine as FBI agent Lemmy Caution.

Pascale Roberts would appear several times opposite Constantine such as in Ces dames préfèrent le mambo/Dishonorable Discharge (Bernard Borderie, 1957) as a femme fatale. She could also be seen in other film noirs such as Cherchez la femme/Look for the woman (Raoul André, 1955) with Pierre Mondy, and Dans la gueule du loup/In the Mouth of the Wolf (Jean-Charles Dudrumet, 1961) based on a crime novel by James Hadley Chase.

In 1957, she married Pierre Mondy but they divorced a few years later. After dozens of mediocre comedies and thrillers, Roberts was really remarkable as the victim in Costa-Gravas’ first film, the fast-moving and entertaining thriller Compartiment tueurs/The Sleeping Car Murder (Costa Gravas, 1965) starring Catherine Allégret and her mother Simone Signoret.

Hal Erickson writes at AllMovie: “During a Marseilles-to-Paris overnight train trip, a girl is found dead in a sleeping car. As Paris detective Yves Montand steps up his investigation, more and more passengers turn up murdered. The unlikely climax is the only sore point of this otherwise well-wrought mystery. Bereft of the politicizing of Costa-Gavras' later works, The Sleeping Car Murders exhibits the director's fondness for American ‘film noir’ thrillers.”

On television, Roberts was that same year a co-star of Geneviève Grad in the comedy series Chambre à louer/Room for rent (Jean-Pierre Desagnat, 1965), and she appeared on TV in another popular comedy series Les saintes chéries/The holy darlings (Jean Becker, 1965) starring Micheline Presle.

Later she featured with Jean-Claude Pascal in a daily soap opera, Le Temps de vivre et le temps d'aimer/Time To Live and Time To Love (Louis Grospierre, 1973).

Pascale Roberts
French postcard by Editions du Globe (E.D.U.G.), Paris, no. 467. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Pascale Roberts
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 666. Photo: Andre Nisak.

Pascale Roberts
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 924. Photo: Studio Vallois.

Urban Dramas

In 1975, Pascale Roberts played her arguably best known film role as the mother of rape and murder victim Isabelle Huppert in Dupont Lajoie/Rape of Innocence (Yves Boisset, 1975). This and her later roles were all supporting parts.

During the 1980s she appeared with Alain Delon in the Film Noir Trois hommes à abattre/Three Men to Destroy (Jacques Deray, 1980) and the policier Pour la peau d'un flic/For a Cop's Hide (Alain Delon, 1981), in which she played a junkie.

She also taught theatre at the École internationale de création audiovisuelle et de réalisation in Paris. Most of her later films are mediocre comedies and action films, but interesting were the delightful award-winning drama Le grand chemin/The Grand Highway (Jean-Loup Hubert, 1987) about the summer vacation of a high strung 9-year-old, the historical adventure La Fille de d'Artagnan/Revenge of the Musketeers (Bertrand Tavernier, 1994) starring Sophie Marceau, and the urban drama À la vie, à la mort!/'Til Death Do Us Part (Robert Guédiguian, 1995) about a family of Spanish immigrants in France featuring Ariane Ascaride.

Gradually Roberts had grown from femme fatale into mother roles. With the husband and wife team of Robert Guédiguian and Ariane Ascaride she worked again at Marius et Jeannette/Marius and Jeanette (Robert Guédiguian, 1997), a comedy-drama set in Marseille about a couple, which puts faith in love to get them through times of extreme poverty.

For her role in this box office hit in France she was nominated for the César for Best Supporting Actress. They continued their cooperation with the urban dramas À la place du coeur/In the space of the heart (Robert Guédiguian, 1998), La ville est tranquille/The Town is Quiet (Robert Guédiguian, 2000), Mon père est ingénieur/My Father is an Engineer (Robert Guédiguian, 2004) and Lady Jane (Robert Guédiguian, 2008).

Since 2008, Roberts appears in the successful TV series Plus belle la vie/More beautiful than life (2004-2011). Her character in the show, Wanda Legendre, also featured in the TV comedy Course contre la montre/Race against the clock (Roger Wielgus, 2011). Her most recent screen appearance was a guest part in the comedy series Working girls (2016).

Pascale Roberts was married to and divorced from Pierre Mondy, Pierre Rey and Michel Le Royer.

Leader Compartiment Tueurs (1966). Source: Michel8665 (YouTube).

Trailer Marius et Jeannette (1997). Source: Films Bonheur / Feel-Good Movies (YouTube).

Sources: James Travers (Films de France), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Notre Cinema (French), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

19 July 2017

Martin Landau (1928-2017)

On 15 July 2017, American character actor Martin Landau (1928-2017) died. In the 1960s, he was popular for his role as the agent and master of disguise Rollin Hand on the TV series Mission: Impossible (1966-1969) and in 1994, he won an Oscar for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's Ed Wood. He was 89.

Martin Landau (1928-2017)
Spanish postcard by Ediciones Este, no. 181 T, 1967. Photo: publicity still for Mission: impossible (1966-1969).

Mission: Impossible

Martin Landau was born in 1928 in Brooklyn, New York. His parents were Majer Joel (Morris) Landau and Selma Buchman. At age 17, Martin was hired by the New York Daily News as a staff cartoonist and illustrator. In his five years on the paper, he served as the illustrator for Billy Rose's Pitching Horseshoes column. He also worked for cartoonist Gus Edson on The Gumps comic strip.

Landau's major ambition was to act, and in 1951, he made his stage debut in Detective Story in Peaks Island, Maine. He made his off-Broadway debut that year in First Love. Landau was one of 2000 applicants who auditioned for Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio in 1955 - only he and Steve McQueen were accepted. Landau was a friend of James Dean and McQueen, in a conversation with Landau, mentioned that he knew Dean and had met Landau. When Landau asked where they had met, McQueen informed him he had seen Landau riding into the New York City garage where he worked as a mechanic on the back of Dean's motorcycle.

He acted during the mid-1950s in such television anthologies as Omnibus (1955). He began making a name for himself after replacing star Franchot Tone in the 1956 off-Broadway revival of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, a famous production that helped put off-Broadway on the New York theatrical map. In 1957, he made a well-received Broadway debut in the play Middle of the Night. As part of the touring company with star Edward G. Robinson, he made it to the West Coast. He also guest-starred in such popular TV series as Maverick (1959), Sugarfoot (1958) and Rawhide (1959).

Martin Landau made his film debut in the war drama Pork Chop Hill (Lewis Milestone, 1959) with Gregory Peck. He scored in his second film as the heavy in Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller North by Northwest (1959), in which he was shot on top of Mount Rushmore while sadistically stepping on the fingers of Cary Grant, who was holding on for dear life to the cliff face.

He also appeared in the blockbuster Cleopatra (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963), the most expensive film ever made up to that time, which nearly scuttled 20th Century-Fox. It engendered one of the great public scandals, the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton love affair that overshadowed the film itself. Landau's memorable portrayal in the key role of Rufio was highly favoured by the audience and instantly catapulted his popularity.

In 1963, Landau played memorable roles on two episodes of the science-fiction anthology series The Outer Limits (1963). He was Gene Roddenberry's first choice to play Mr. Spock on Star Trek (1966), but the role went to Leonard Nimoy, who later replaced Landau on Mission: Impossible (1966), the show that really made Landau famous. He originally was not meant to be a regular on the series, which co-starred his wife Barbara Bain, whom he had married in 1957.

His character, master impersonator Rollin Hand, was supposed to make occasional, though recurring appearances, but when the producers had problems with star Steven Hill, Landau was used to take up the slack. Rollin Hand was one of the specialists used by the Impossible Missions Force. Hand was described as a “man of a million faces”. Landau's characterisation was so well-received and so popular with the audience that he was made a regular. Landau received Emmy nominations as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for each of the three seasons he appeared. In 1968, he won the Golden Globe award as Best Male TV Star.

Eventually, he quit the series in 1969 after a salary dispute when the new star, Peter Graves, was given a contract that paid him more than Landau, whose own contract stated he would have parity with any other actor on the show who made more than he did. The producers refused to budge and he and Bain, who had become the first actress in the history of television to be awarded three consecutive Emmy Awards (1967-1969) while on the show, left the series, ostensibly to pursue film careers. The move actually held back their careers, and Mission: Impossible went on for another four years with other actors.

Mission Impossible
Spanish postcard by Ediciones Este, no. 182, 1967. Martin Landau, Steven Hill, Greg Morris and Barbara Bain were the original stars of the American action series Mission: Impossible (1966–1973), about an elite covert operations unit which carries out highly sensitive missions subject to official denial in the event of failure, death or capture.

Béla Lugosi

Martin Landau appeared in support of Sidney Poitier in They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (Norman Jewison, 1970), the less successful sequel to the Oscar-winning In the Heat of the Night (1967), but it did not generate more work of a similar caliber. He starred in the television movie Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol (George McCowan, 1972), playing a prisoner of war returning to the United States from Vietnam. The following year, he shot a pilot for a proposed show, Savage (1973). Though it was directed by emerging wunderkind Steven Spielberg, NBC did not pick up the show.

Needing work, Landau and Bain moved to England to play the leading roles in the syndicated science-fiction series Space: 1999 (1975-1977). In Europe Landau also appeared in the Giallo Una Magnum Special per Tony Saitta/Shadows in an Empty Room (Alberto De Martino, 1976) with Stuart Whitman and John Saxon. Landau's and Bain's careers stalled after Space: 1999 went out of production, and they were reduced to taking parts in the television movie The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (Peter Baldwin, 1981). It was the nadir of both their careers, and Bain's acting days, and their marriage, soon were over.

Landau, one of the most talented character actors in Hollywood, and one not without recognition, had bottomed out career-wise. In 1983, he was stuck in low-budget Sci-Fi and horror films like The Being (Jackie Kong, 1983), a role far beneath his talent. His career renaissance got off to a slow start with a recurring role in the NBC sitcom Buffalo Bill (1983), starring Dabney Coleman. On Broadway, he took over the title role in the revival of Dracula and went on the road with the national touring company. He also appeared in Raul Ruiz's Treasure Island (1985), a surrealistic modern-day riff on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel.

Finally, Martin Landau's career renaissance began to gather momentum when Francis Ford Coppola cast him in a critical supporting role in his Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), for which Landau was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. He won his second Golden Globe for the role. The next year, he received his second consecutive Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his superb turn as the adulterous husband in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). He followed this up by playing famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in the TNT movie Max and Helen (Philip Saville, 1990).

However, the summit of his post-Mission: Impossible career was about to be scaled. He portrayed as the horror actor Béla Lugosi in Tim Burton's biopic Ed Wood (1994) and won glowing reviews. Landau’s Lugosi is a tragicomic creation: his wife has left him, he is addicted to morphine and most of Hollywood thinks he is dead. For his performance, Landau won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. He finally had been recognized with his profession's ultimate award. His performance, which also won him his third Golden Globe, garnered numerous awards in addition to the Oscar and Golden Globe, including top honors from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Landau continued to play a wide variety of roles. In the United Kingdom he appeared opposite Michael Caine in the thriller Shiner (John Irvin, 2000). He turned in a superb performance in a supporting role in The Majestic (Frank Darabont, 2001) opposite Jim Carrey. He received his fourth Emmy nomination in 2004 as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for Without a Trace (2002). Excellent was also his part as an Auschwitz survivor in Remember (Atom Egoyan, 2015).

Chris Wiegand in his obituary in The Guardian: "Landau’s own face was instantly recognisable, with its haunted eyes, wide mouth and furrowed brow; even when he broke into a smile, he could seem to be frowning." Martin Landau and Barbara Bain had two daughters, Susan Landau Finch and Juliet Landau.

Mini-Documentary on Mission: Impossible (2012). Source: Shatner Method (YouTube).

Trailer Ed Wood (1994). Source: Trailer Chan (YouTube).

Trailer Remember (2015). Source: moviemaniacsDE (YouTube).

Sources: Chris Wiegand (The Guardian), Jon C. Hopwood (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

18 July 2017

Anne Golon (1921-2017)

On 14 July 2017, French author Anne Golon (1921-2017) passed away. She and her husband Serge were well known for a wildly popular series of historic novels about an irresistibly beautiful and untamable heroine called Angélique. With more than 150 million copies sold in 45 languages, Angélique is one of the most successful book series of the 20th century. During the 1960s, director Bernard Borderie adapted the novels into a series of five films featuring Michèle Mercier as Angélique.

Michèle Mercier in Angélique, marquise des anges (1964)
Vintage card. Photo: publicity still for Angélique, marquise des anges/Angélique (Bernard Borderie, 1964) with Michèle Mercier.

Michèle Mercier
Michèle Mercier. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 25/71, 1971. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress.

Michèle Mercier in Angelique et le roy (1965)
West-German postcard by ISV, no. H-137. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le roy/Angélique and the King (Bernard Borderie, 1965).

An Overnight Success

Anne and Serge Golon published a series of 13 French historical adventure books on Angélique. In fact, Anne Golon is the author and her husband Serge did much of the historical research. International publishers published their books with as the authors name Sergeanne Golon

Anne was born Simone Changeux in Toulon, a port in south-eastern France, in 1921. She was the daughter of Pierre Changeux, a scientist and a captain in the French Navy. She was interested in painting and writing from early childhood and published her first novel, The Country from behind my Eyes, when she was 18 under the pen name Joëlle Danterne.

During World War II Anne travelled via bicycle through France to Spain. She wrote using different pen-names, helped to create France Magazine, and was awarded a literary prize for The Patrol of the Saint Innocents.[4]

She was sent to Africa as a journalist, where she met Vsevolod Sergeïvich Goloubinoff, her future husband, Serge Golon. Their first novel, Angélique, the Marquise of the Angels, was published in 1957. The book was an overnight success. Heroine Angélique de Sancé de Monteloup is a lusciously beautiful 17th Century woman, fifth child of an impoverished country nobleman in the Poitou marshlands in the west of France.

Wikipedia gives a bit ironic summary of the successive books: "she marries at a young age the romantic and talented Count of Toulouse; gets her domestic bliss destroyed when King Louis XIV has her husband executed on trumped up charges; descends into the underworld of Paris; emerges and through a turbulent second marriage gets admittance to the court in Versailles; loses her second husband in war, just as she had started to truly love him, and subsequently refuses to become the King's mistress; finds that her first husband is after all alive and is hiding somewhere in the Mediterranean; sets out on a highly risky search, gets captured by pirates, sold into slavery in Crete, taken into the harem of the King of Morocco, stabs the King when he tries to have sex with her, and stages a daring escape" etc.

Robert Hossein, Michèle Mercier
Robert Hossein and Michèle Mercier. Romanian mini-card.

Michèle Mercier and Giuliano Gemma in Angélique, marquise des anges (1964)
Romanian mini-card. Photo: publicity still for Angélique, marquise des anges/Angélique (Bernard Borderie, 1964) with Michèle Mercier and Giuliano Gemma.

Michèle Mercier and Sami Frey in Angelique et le roy, 1966
Small Romanian collectors card. Photo: publicity still for Angélique et le roy/Angelique and the King (Bernard Borderie, 1966) with Michèle Mercier and Samy Frey.

Unique flair for historical costume dramas

Some of the Angélique novels were adapted into a series of five popular films:

  • Angélique, Marquise des Anges/Angélique (1964).
  • Merveilleuse Angelique/Angelique: The Road to Versailles (1965).
  • Angélique et le roy/Angelique and the King (1966).
  • Indomptable Angelique/Untamable Angelique (1967).
  • Angélique et le sultan/Angelique and the Sultan (1968).

According to James Travers at Films de France, Angélique, Marquise des Anges/Angélique is notably the best of the series: "the adventures of a beautiful 17th century marquise, Angélique, played magnificently by Michèle Mercier. Although rarely seen outside of continental Europe, these films were very successful in France in the 1960s and display that country's unique flair for historical costume dramas."

The films were a joint production of France, Italy and Germany. Director of the whole series of films was Bernard Borderie and the main stars were Michèle Mercier as Angélique Sancé de Monteloup and Robert Hossein as Jeoffrey de Peyrac.

Other characters were played by Jean Rochefort as Desgrez, Giuliano Gemma as Angelique's childhood friend Nicolas Merlot, Jacques Toja as King Louis XIV, Claude Giraud as Angélique's second husband Philippe de Plessis-Bellières, Jean-Louis Trintignant as the poet Claude le Petit, Samy Frey as Bachtiary Bey, Estella Blain as the evil Madame De Montespan, Fred Williams as Ràkóczi, and in the final film Jean-Claude Pascal as Sultan Osman Ferradji.

Michèle Mercier
Michèle Mercier. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 35/71, 1971. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Progress.

Robert Hossein
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Indomptable Angelique/Untamable Angelique (Bernard Borderie, 1967) with Robert Hossein and Michèle Mercier.

Robert Hossein and Michèle Mercier in Indomptable Angelique (1967)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Indomptable Angelique/Untamable Angélique (Bernard Borderie, 1967) with Robert Hossein and Michèle Mercier.

A Turkish Angélique

The Angélique films were popular all over Europe. They were also very popular in Central Europe where the postcards used for this post were published, by Progress in East-Germany and by Acin in Romania.

During the 1970s, all the kids at my school were exited to see the Angélique films when they were shown on Dutch television. Romance, adventure, and a tiny bit of nudity. We loved it.

To my surprise, two Turkish Angélique films exist as well: Anjelik Osmanli saraylarinda/Angélique in the Ottoman Palaces (Ülkü Erakalin, 1967) and Anjelik ve Deli Ibrahim/Angelique and Deli Ibrahim (Süha Dogan, 1968), both starring Sevda Ferdag as Anjelik 'Angélique de Peyrac'. The first film gets a 7,9 rating at IMDb.

In 2013, a remake of Angélique, marquise des anges went in premiere: Angélique (Ariel Zeitoun, 2013). Nora Arnezeder played Angelique and Gérard Lanvin Joffrey de Peyrac.

At IMDb, the film received a poor rating of only 5,6, but Polish reviewer Malgga liked it 'very, very much': "A beautiful, engaging and immensely romantic rendition of the 'Beauty and the Beast' fairy tale motive".

Robert Hossein
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 277. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le sultan/Angelique and the Sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968) with Robert Hossein.

Michèle Mercier, Jean-Claude Pascal, Angélique et le sultan.
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le sultan/Angelique and the sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968) with Michèle Mercier and Jean-Claude Pascal.

Michèle Mercier in Indomptable Angélique (1967)
French photo by Francos Film - C.I.C.C. (Paris), Gloria Film (Munich), Fono Roma (Rome). Publicity still for Indomptable Angélique/Untamable Angelique (Bernard Borderie, 1967).

Reduced to a state close to poverty 

In 1972, Anne and Serge Golon went to Canada to continue their research. That year, as Anne wrote Angélique and the Ghosts, but Serge died. They had four children: Cyrille (born February 1950), Nadine (born July 1955), Pierre (born April 1957), and Marina (born 1961).

Anne carried on writing and brought up her four children at the same time. Between Serge's death and 1985, Anne wrote four more volumes, beginning with the second half of Ghosts (both portions published in French as a single volume, Angélique à Quebec (Angelique in Quebec)) and proceeding through Victoire d'Angélique (Angélique's Victory).

Anne Golon was reduced to a state close to poverty and filed a lawsuit against the French publisher Hachette for abuse of copyright and for her unpaid royalties. She won her battle over the publishing rights to her Angélique stories.

After a legal battle in France lasting nearly a decade, she reached an agreement which left her the sole owner of the works. In 2009, Golon announced two more books would follow: Royaume de France, (Kingdom of France), and a fifteenth and final volume to complete the series.

On 14 July 2017 Anne Golon died in Versailles, Yvelines, France. She was 95. Estimates of the total number of Angélique books sold worldwide are upwards of 150 million, and they have been published in at least 63 countries, by at least 320 different publishers.

Michèle Mercier in Angélique, marquise des anges (1964)
West-German postcard by Friedrich-W. Sander-Verlag / Kolibri-Verlag, Minden-Westf., no. 2420. Photo: Gloria-Film. Publicity still for Angélique, marquise des anges/Angélique (Bernard Borderie, 1964).

Michèle Mercier
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le sultan/Angelique and the sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968) with Michèle Mercier.

Robert Hossein
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Angelique et le sultan/Angelique and the Sultan (Bernard Borderie, 1968) with Robert Hossein.

Robert Hossein
Robert Hossein. East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 32/71. Retail price: 0,20 M.

Sources: James Travers (Films de France), Wikipedia and IMDb.