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Born: Thumeries, France, 30 October 1932.
Died: Beverly Hills, California, USA, 23 November 1995.

Louis Malle (JPG, 14 KB)

A graduate of IDHEC (Institut de Formation et d'Enseignement pour les Métiers de l'Image et du Son), Malle co-directed with Jean-Yves Cousteau the prize-winning documentary Le Monde du silence / The Silent World (1956). His subsequent work is characterized by classicism, versatility and international success. Malle's early features place him in an odd position vis-à-vis the New Wave; he was a precursor to it with Ascenseur pour l'échafaud / Lift to the Scaffold (1957), with his use of locations, Jeanne Moreau and a Miles Davis score, and Les Amants (1958), and already marginal to it with the zany comedy Zazie dans le métro (1960, based on Raymond Queneau's novel). Malle's subsequent work combined classic mise-en-scène with "risky" topics: suicide in Le feu follet / A Time to Live and a Time to Die (1963), mother-son incest in Le Souffle au coeur / Dearest Love (1971), child sexuality in Pretty Baby (1978, US) and, most incisively, French collaboration during the Occupation in Lacombe, Lucien (1974). Unusually for a French director, Malle made a successful transition to the US with such films as Atlantic City, U.S.A. (1980, Canada/France) and My Dinner with André (1981), returning to France for his moving autobiographical wartime drama Au revoir les enfants (1987) and the Renoiresque Milou en Mai (1989). He made the glossy Fatale / Damage (1992) with Juliette Binoche and Jeremy Irons, shot in England and (controversially for the French) in English, and ironically returned to a more modest type of European art cinema with the American Vanya on 42nd Street (1994). Malle has directed many documentaries on subjects ranging from the American Bible belt to the Tour de France.

— Ginette Vincendeau, Encyclopedia of European Cinema

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