Monday, February 16, 2015

Louis Jourdan, 1921-2015

Louis Jourdan with Leslie Caron in Gigi (1958)

The death has been announced of actor Louis Jourdan, the French-born actor who achieved success in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s. Jourdan, who died Saturday night, was 93.

Jourdan, having been born in France, started his acting career in France duing the war, but came to Hollywood after the war to appear in his first English-language film, The Paradine Case. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the movie stars Gregory Peck as a London barrister who takes the defense of a woman accused of murdering her husband (Alida Valli) only to fall in love with the woman, which is a big complication considering that he's already married. Jourdan plays the valet to the deceased, who may or may not be in love with Valli and who may or may not know more about the murder. This is one of Hitchcock's lesser-known movies, which is a surprise considering the stellar cast: Charles Laughton plays the judge, and Charles Coburn plays Valli's solicitor.

Jourdan had a reputation for being suave, which probably came from his role in Gigi, where he plays the man being pursued by Leslie Caron (pictured above). This is one of those movies I don't particularly care for, mostly because it's an overblown MGM musical. That, and Maurice Chevalier's opening rendition of "Thank Heaven For Little Girls" is something I find creepy. Gigi happens to be on the TCM schedule overnight tonight at 1:00 AM, so you'll have a chance to watch and judge for yourself.

Later in his career, Jourdan played the bad guy in the James Bond movie Octopussy, which involves Bond trying to defuse an atomic bomb while having to deal with the dispute between East and West Germany. At least, I think that's the main story line; it's been a long time since I watched Octopussy.

Elsewhere on this blog, I've recommended Louis Jourdan in Letter From an Unknown Woman and Julie.

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