- (1916-1989)Actor. There are few actors in France or in the world whose careers lasted as long as that of Bernard Blier. There is some poetic justice in that, no doubt, given that he nearly missed his childhood dream of becoming an actor, barely gaining admission to the Paris Conservatoire d'art dramatique. He only succeeded at being admitted on the fourth attempt. Blier would have given up after the third refusal, so the story goes, only he had a chance encounter with Louis Jouvet, at the time an instructor at the Conservatoire, and the great Jouvet apparently encouraged Blier not to quit. As fate would have it, Jouvet became Blier's teacher and had a profound influence on him.Blier began his long film career in 1937, appearing with Edwige Feuillère and René Bergeron in Marc Allégret's La Dame de Malacca. The same year he also made Trois, six, neuf . . . (1937) with Raymond Rouleau. In addition to Allégret (with whom Blier worked again in Entrée des artistes in 1938, alongside Jouvet), Blier worked with other major directors of the day. He was directed by Marcel Carné in L'Hôtel du nord (1938) and Le Jour se lève (1939) and by Claude Autant-Lara in Le Ruisseau (1938). Blier was mobilized and sent off to war in 1939. He was ultimately captured and made a prisoner of war, but managed to escape and returned to France, where he met director Christian-Jacque, with whom he made a number of films, including L'Enfer des anges (1941), La Symphonie fantastique (1942), and Carmen (1943).After the war, Blier's career lost none of its momentum, as he had a number of key roles in important films. He starred in Henri-Georges Clouzot's Quai des Orfèvres (1947), Henri Calef's La Sorcière (1949), Yves Allégret's Manèges (1949), Jean-Paul Le Chanois's Les Misérables (1958), and Julien Duvivier's L'Homme à l'imperméable (1957) and Marie-Octobre (1959), among other films. He also reforged ties with directors he had worked with before, most notably Yves Allégret and Autant-Lara.In the later stages of his career, Blier divided his time between France and Italy. The Italians had developed a great appreciation for him, and he was able to do a number of films there. In France, Blier seemed to narrow the scope of his work to the films of a few, preferred directors, although this did little to limit the number of films in which he appeared. He had a long collaboration with Georges Lautner, starring in a number of his films, including Marche ou crève (1958) and Les Barbouzes (1964). Blier's relationship with Lautner led to new collaborative efforts with Michel Audiard, who had been the screenwriter for Lautner before becoming a director himself. Blier starred in Audiard's films, starting with Faut pas prendre les enfants du Bon Dieu pour des canards sauvages (1968) to Elle cause plus . . . elle flingue (1972) and often appeared in small roles in later films. Similarly, he was a favorite of Lautner and starred in such films as La Grande sauterelle (1967) and Mort d'un pourri (1977). He was also a regular in the films of Philippe de Broca, Claude Miller, Jean Yanne, and Edouard Molinaro.Blier was a large, round man. As such, he had a formidable dramatic presence that made a great impression when he played somber, serious characters. It was this persona that often dominated in his roles. However, he could play much more inscrutable, psychologically subtle, even bizarre characters. He did comedy as well as he did drama, as proven by his performance in Yves Robert's Le Grand blond avec une chaussure noire (1972). He did romantic comedy as well as he did farce. His forte in comedy was to play a parody of his dramatic roles. It is, perhaps, noteworthy that he gave one of his most memorable performances in Buffet froid (1979), directed by his son, Bertrand Blier.
Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. Dayna Oscherwitz & Mary Ellen Higgins. 2007.
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Blier, Bernard — (1916 1989) Actor. There are few actors in France or in the world whose careers lasted as long as that of Bernard Blier. There is some poetic justice in that, no doubt, given that he nearly missed his childhood dream of becoming an actor,… … Guide to cinema
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