Jourdan, Louis

(1919- )
   Actor. Born Louis Gendre in Marseilles, Louis Jourdan had a fairly cosmopolitan childhood, spending time in Turkey and England as well as France before studying to become an actor. He was a student of René Simon's at the École dramatique, and made his screen debut in 1939 in Marc Allégret's Le Corsaire. Jourdan's screen career was immediately successful, and during the period from the late 1930s until the Nazi Occupation, he was quite busy, appearing in such films as Henri Decoin's Premier Rendez-vous (1941), Allegret's Parade en sept nuits (1941), L'Arlésienne (1942), La Belle aventure (1942), Les Petites du Quai aux fleurs (1944), and Félicie Nanteuil (1945), Marcel L'Herbier's La Comédie du bonheur (1942) and La Vie de bohème (1945), and Julien Duvivier's Untel père et fils (1943).
   During the Occupation, Jourdan refused to act in films, at least in those films produced by the Occupation authorities or Continental Films. This more or less prevented him from working in France. His other opposition to the Nazi regime—his father was arrested by the Gestapo—also made his position in France somewhat difficult, so, like many actors of the day, he went to the United States.
   Although Jourdan was able to work in Hollywood, the roles he found were very different from those he had had on the French screen. In France, Jourdan had been seen as a talented actor, and had therefore played a range of roles in major films, working with the great stars of the day, including Bernard Blier, Michèle Morgan, Odette Joyeux, Danielle Darrieux, Gaby Morlay, Micheline Presle, and Raïmu. In Hollywood, he was quickly typecast as the suave European, usually a lover, a type which severely limited the range of his roles. The American films in which he appeared from this period include Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case (1947) and Vincent Minelli's Madame Bovary (1949). He also starred in Max Ophuls's Hollywood film, Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948).
   Despite the limitations on his career, Jourdan remained in the United States, working only occasionally in French cinema, most notably in Jacques Becker's Rue de l'estrapade (1953), Claude Autant-Lara's Le Comte de Monte Cristo (1961), Georges Lampin's Mathias Sandorf (1963), Léonard Keigel's Leviathan (1962), and Jean Delannoy's Les Sultans (1966). Among the other Hollywood films in which he appeared are Jean Negulesco's Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), Minelli's Gigi (1958), and Walter Lang's Can-Can (1960). Since the 1960s, Jourdan has primarily appeared on television and onstage, with only occasional roles in film, and those mostly outside Hollywood.

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

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