Le Chanois, Jean-Paul

(1909-1985)
   Actor and director. Born Jean-Paul Dreyfus, Jean-Paul Le Chanois began his career in the theater, most notably as a playwright. Le Chanois had close associations to the Groupe Octobre, which itself had close ties to Jean Renoir and to Jacques Prévert, who was a member. Le Chanois's film debut was as an actor in films such as Pierre Prévert's L'Affaire est dans le sac (1932) and Anatole Litvak's L'Équipage (1935), a film on which he also served as an assistant director. The behind-the-scenes work soon captured his full attention, and he all but ceased acting in films, going on to assist in films such as Maurice Tourneur's Konigsmark (1935), Jacques Becker's La Vie est à nous (1936), Jean Renoir's La Marseillaise (1938), and Max Ophuls's De Mayerling à Sarajevo (1940), a film in which he also acted.
   In 1940, Le Chanois took over the filming of Une idée à l'eau (1940), which had been started by Marco de Gastyne. Le Chanois, however, would not make another film for several years, as World War II had started and put a temporary stop to his filmmaking career. In 1946, immediately after the war, Le Chanois made Messieurs Ludovic (1946), the first of a number of films, including dramas, melodramas, and a handful of comedies. Examples are Au coeur de l'orage (1948); L'École buissonnière (1949), starring Bernard Blier; La Belle que voilà (1950), starring Michèle Morgan; Sans laisser d'adresse (1951), starring Blier and Danièle Delorme; Agence Matrimoniale (1952), starring Blier and Julien Carette; Papa, maman, la bonne, et moi (1954), starring Robert Lamoureux and Gaby Morlay; Les Évadés (1955), starring Pierre Fresnay; Village magique (1955); Papa, maman, ma femme et moi. . . (1956), also starring Lamoureux and Morlay; Le Cas du Dr Laurent (1957), starring Jean Gabin and Le Chanois's wife, Silvia Montfort; Les Misérables (1958), starring Gabin and Blier; Par-dessus le mur (1961); Mandrin (1962); Monsieur (1964); and Le Jardinier d'Argenteuil (1966). Le Chanois resumed acting and appeared in several of these later films.
   In addition to directing, Le Chanois was an industrious screen-writer. He wrote the screenplays for many of his own films, including Une idée à l'eau (1940), L'École buissonnière, La Belle que voilà, Agence Matrimoniale, Papa, maman, la bonne, et moi, Les Évadés, Le Cas du Dr Laurent, and Les Misérables. He also wrote screenplays for films by other directors, most notably Tourneur's La Main du diable (1943) and Cécile est morte (1944), Richard Pottier's Picpus (1943), Esway's L'Idole (1948), and Jean-Devaivre's La Dame d'onze heures (1948) and Alerte au sud (1953).

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

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