Saturday, 27 December 2008

Michèle Mercier

Entrancing, luscious-lipped French actress Michèle Mercier (1939) worked with directors like François Truffaut, Jean-Pierre Melville, Jacques Deray, Dino Risi, and Mario Monicelli, and starred opposite such leading men as Marcello Mastroianni, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Gabin, Charles Bronson, Tony Curtis and Charlton Heston. And although she appeared in more than fifty films she will always be best known as seductive Angélique, ‘the Marquise of the Angels’. Michèle Mercier is born in Nice (France) as Jocelyne Yvonne Renée Mercier, the oldest daughter of a French pharmacist father and an Italian mother. She initially wanted to be a dancer. She studies dancing and at 8 years she becomes a 'petit rat' (little chorus girl) at the Opera de Nice. At 15 she plays a small part in the film J'avais sept filles/I Have Seven Daughters (1954, Jean Boyer) starring Maurice Chevalier, who predicts her a successful career. At 17 she moved to Paris, and with the company ‘Ballets de la tour Eiffel’ under the direction of Roland Petit. At the same time she follows drama classes with Solange Sicard. After a stay in London, she has her debut in the theatre. When she goes to her parents for a holiday, she meets Denis de La Patellière, who is filming Retour de manivelle/There's Always a Price Tag (1957) in Nice. He gives her a role – as the chambermaid Jeanne. For a film career her birth name seemed too long and old-fashioned, and she adopts the name Michèle. This was the name of her younger sister, who had died at the age of five from typhoid fever, and of the star of the film, the grat actress Michèle Morgan. Michèle Mercier is noticed by Léonide Moguy, who offers her the leading part in his film Donnez-moi ma chance/Give Me My Chance (1958). Robert Lamoureux makes her the star of La brune que voilà/There Is the Brunette – both in the theatre (1958) and on screen (1960). In 1959 she is asked to come to Hollywood but she quickly returns to Europe and becomes a star in Italy. She plays parts in European coproductions like Ein Engel auf Erden/Angel on Earth (1959, Géza von Radványi) co-starring Romy Schneider and Henri Vidal, and Le Notti di Lucrezia Borgia/The Nights of Lucretia Borgia (1959, Serge Grieco) starring Belinda Lee. In Tirez sur le pianist/Shoot the Pianist (1960, François Truffaut) she plays the part of a prostitute next to Charles Aznavour. She continues her career in France, Italy and sometimes in England, in films including Aimez-vous Brahms/Goodbye Again (1961, Anatole Litvak) starring Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Hopkins and Yves Montand, Gli anni ruggenti/Roaring Years (1962, Luigi Zampa), I Mostri/The Monsters (1963, Dino Risi), Symphonie pour un massacre/Symphony for a Massacre (1963, Jacques Deray), L’aine des Ferchaux/An Honorable Young Man (1963, Jean Pierre Melville) with Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Alta infedeltà/High Infidelity (1964, Mario Monicelli). She also stars in two Mario Brava films: Le Meraviglie di Aladino/The Wonders of Aladdin (1961) and I tre volti della paura/The Three Faces of Fear (1963, sketch The Telephone).

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