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René Clair Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (10)  | Personal Quotes (5)

Overview (3)

Born in Paris, France
Died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France  (heart attack in his sleep)
Birth NameRené-Lucien Chomette

Mini Bio (1)

René Clair was born on November 11, 1898 in Paris, France as René-Lucien Chomette. He was a writer and director, known for Man About Town (1947), The Grand Maneuver (1955) and Beauties of the Night (1952). He was married to Bronia Clair. He died on March 15, 1981 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France.

Spouse (1)

Bronia Clair (2 June 1928 - 15 March 1981) ( his death) ( 1 child)

Trivia (10)

Brother of Henri Chomette.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 131-137. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
President of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1974
Profiled in "Encyclopedia of French Film Directors" by Philippe Rege (Scarecrow Press).
Was not happy with the coming of sound, in cinema, as it could, he thought, undermine the complex language constructed by the silent cinema over the last three decades.
In 1960 he was the first member of the Académie Française elected as a director (Marcel Pagnol, elected in 1946, was also a writer).
Made his reputation with visual comedies and socio/political satires, examining the mores of the middle- and upper-classes in France. Although he made sojourns to both Britain and the US, he was happiest working in his native country, where he felt less subjected to studio interference. Nonetheless, he is highly regarded for two of his Hollywood films: the whimsical comedy I Married a Witch (1942), for which he effectively discovered latent comedic talents in his star Veronica Lake; and And Then There Were None (1945), which is considered one of the most faithful adaptations of an Agatha Christie thriller.
Was involved with both the Surrealist and Dadaist movements.
Was a volunteer ambulance driver during World War I.
When Clair first arrived at Universal, he wanted to do a picture with W.C. Fields and Deanna Durbin. The studio did not think it was a good idea, and Clair did "Flame of New Orleans.".

Personal Quotes (5)

Nothing essential has been added to the art of the motion picture since D.W. Griffith.
With very few exceptions, the best original scenarios have been written either by writers who knew the cinema particularly well, or by professional film workers. Although it may seem at first sight that anybody should be able to write a film scenario, experience shows that good scenarios are very rare.
[Explaining how he got into movies] By accident. I had never thought about it before. I was a young reporter on a daily newspaper, and I had some friends who were making a small amateur picture, with a troupe of girls, you see - dancers. one of them thought that for this particular film they were making they needed a young man who liked girls. And I was very much interested - not in pictures but in girls. I played a little part for a few days, and then I was offered a job by a real company. Although the motion picture company was not very rich, it could pay much more than journalism. And so I was almost forced to change in order to make more money. I was not interested at all in being an actor - I hated that business - but being in front of the camera - I was lousy, by the way - I saw it was a very interesting medium. And I thought, 'If I have to do something better behind the camera than in front of it.' Then I went back to my former business of writer and I wrote my first scenario, which was "Paris Qui Dort."
[on Dudley Nichols]: He had unbelievable energy. I'd come into his office at 8.30 or 9.00 and he'd be waiting for me. We always started work immediately. He never talked about anything but the script, never even mentioned the news of the war or anything like that. He'd sit at his typewriter and pound away at it as I paced the floor. At noon, they'd send in a glass of milk and a sandwich, but that didn't interrupt the work for a second.
Once, after several months of inactivity - I'd been reading a lot, that is, but hadn't found anything I liked enough to begin working on - the front office at Paramount reminded me that I was being paid. That amused me, so I said, "OK, don't pay me until I work. Don't give me another check until I start writing again." The big boss was absolutely scandalized at the thought. No pay! It was a religion, that weekly paycheck in Hollywood. I had blasphemed. I don't think that I could have said anything that would have shocked him more.

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