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Overview for Jean-Louis Barrault
Jean-Louis Barrault

Jean-Louis Barrault


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Also Known As: Died: January 22, 1994
Born: September 8, 1910 Cause of Death: heart failure
Birth Place: France Profession: Cast ... actor director teacher


Highly gifted French stage actor whose gentle features, flexible voice, and sensitive, skilled mime enhanced slightly over two dozen films from the mid-1930s through the late 60s. Devoted primarily to his stage work, especially acting and directing for the Comedie Francaise and for his own company, he nevertheless performed for such directors as Abel Gance ("The Life and Loves of Beethoven" 1936), G.W. Pabst ("Mademoiselle Docteur" 1937), Sacha Guitry ("Pearls of the Crown" 1937), Jean Delannoy ("La part de l'ombre/Blind Desire" 1945), Max Ophuls ("La ronde" 1950) and Jean Renoir ("Le testament du Dr. Cordelier" 1960, in an especially bizarre and delightful Jekyll-and-Hyde performance).

Barrault's most brilliant film performance--and certainly his best remembered--was in the leading role of Marcel Carne's superb "Les Enfants du Paradis/Children of Paradise" (1945), playing a mime whose love goes largely unrequited in this moving and graceful meditation on performance. Barrault's sensitivity was also very well utilized when he played Hector Berlioz in Christian-Jaque's fine, music-filled biopic, "La symphonie fantastique" (1942). His film work was less frequent after the early 1950s but in later years included the English-language film "Chappaqua" (1966), where he rose above the film's groovy antics, and Ettore Scola's fine "La Nuit de Varennes/That Night at Varennes" (1982), where he performed, with his usual aplomb, as a randy writer during the French Revolution. Barrault's death in early 1994 was a national event in France, where he was justly acclaimed as one of the finest actors of the century. His wife was celebrated actress and stage company co-founder Madeleine Renaud and his niece was actress Marie-Christine Barrault.

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