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Born: Paris, France, 15 September 1906.
Died: Paris, France, 1960.

Jacques Becker (JPG, 12 KB)

His interest in films was stimulated by a meeting with King Vidor, who offered him employment in the US as actor and assistant director. However, he remained in France and became assistant to Jean Renoir, a friend of the family, during that director's peak period (1932-39). In 1934 he ventured briefly into independent production, co-directing with Pierre Prévert a short film, Le Commissaire est Bon Enfant. In 1935 he turned out a five-reeler, Tête de Turc, which he later refused to acknowledge as his. In 1939 he began shooting a feature film, L'Or du Cristobal, but walked out after three weeks, leaving the film to be finished by Jean Stelli. In 1942, after a year in a German prisoner-of-war camp, he began his career as director. His entire output consisted of only 13 films, but they include some of the most artistically and technically substantial in French cinema. He is one of the few Old Guard directors done honour by the New Wave, which reveres him for his masterpiece, the atmospheric period love story Casque d'Or, and also for his lesser films, such charming love tales as Antoine et Antoinette and Edouard et Caroline, in which he vividly depicts French social milieus through careful attention to background. His Touchez Pas au Grisbi, a gangster film distinguished for its detailed action and penetration of character, exerted considerable influence on subsequent série noire French films. He was less successful with such commercial ventures as Ali Baba, which was dominated by Fernandel, and Montparnasse 19, a biographical sketch of the last years in the life of Modigliani.

— Ephraim Katz, The Film Encylopedia

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This page was last updated on 23 July 2000.