best film: Jules and Jim. Jules and Jim is simply one of the crown jewels of the French New Wave on top of being one of the best films of all-time (currently sits at #19). That ranking makes it the single highest rated film of the French New Wave, Truffaut’s career, and the best film from a French director. This category strengthens Moreau’s case.
best performance: Jules and Jim. Moreau is transcendent in Truffaut’s masterpiece as Catherine. Catherine is mercurial and Moreau dominates when she is on screen (sorry and all due respect to Oskar Werner and Henri Serre). If one combines this with the paragraph above one is left with an all-time performance worthy of praise and appreciation. The film does not work if the viewer fails to fall in love with Moreau- like Jules, Jim (and Truffaut) clearly do.
stylistic innovations/traits: Thanks to Truffaut, Jules and Jim, those sublime freeze frames on her, the running scene dressed as a man- Moreau is a permanent fixture of art cinema and the French New Wave. But Moreau, with seventeen (17) archiveable films is far from a one-hit wonder. She was actually clipping along fine before the New Wave in the late 1950s and early 1950s. Her work with Malle is proof of that and she is superb in Elevator to the Gallows. Yet, her trajectory changed clearly with the rise of Truffaut’s star. She would go on to work with Antonioni, Bunuel and Demy as well in the early 1960s. All told, eleven (11) of her archiveable films are between 1958 and 1964. Moreau could play Deneuve’s deadpan calm beauty (The Bride Wore Black)—but also could express and animate (beyond what her blonde French counterpart Catherine Deneuve could) as well as anyone this side of Giulietta Masina.
directors worked with: François Truffaut (3), Louis Malle (3), Orson Welles (2)… and then once a piece with Michelangelo Antonioni, Jacques Demy, Luis Bunuel and a quick cameo with Jean-Luc Godard.
top ten performances:
- Jules and Jim
- Elevator to the Gallows
- La Notte
- The Bride Wore Black
- The Lovers
- Diary of a Chambermaid
- Bay of Angels
- Monte Walsh
- Chimes at Midnight
- The Train
|1954- Touchez Pas au Grisbi|
|1958- Elevator to the Gallows|
|1958- The Lovers|
|1959- The 400 Blows|
|1961- A Woman is a Woman|
|1961- La Notte|
|1962- Jules and Jim|
|1962- The Trial|
|1963- Bay of Angels|
|1963- The Fire Within|
|1964- Diary of a Chambermaid|
|1964- The Train|
|1966- Chimes at Midnight|
|1968- The Bride Wore Black|
|1970- Monte Walsh|
|1976- The Last Tycoon|
|1990- La Femme Nikita|
Maaaaan…idk Jeanne Mureau is my pick for best actress of all time. The fact that she had absolutely no barriers: not role, not money, NOT EVEN LANGUAGE. She just wanted to make the best movies.
She literally was unpaid for La Notte and that might be the best-acted movie of all time. Not her performance alone, but between a director and the 3 big actors, this might be the most star power in any movie not named The Godfather? All 4 are top ten in their respective categories (top 11 for you haha and we will have to wait on Vitti but I’m anticipating at least top 20. And all 4 of them at their absolute primes. Kind of wonder if something like it will ever happen again
@Matthew moore- Great work here- and excellent point about the four of them working together in their primes.
What a powerful, unique actress she was. Reading her film credits is really like reading the history of 20th century cinema, she worked with so many great names.
BTW, she also worked with Fassbinder too in Querelle (worth seeing for the crazy visuals) and her performance is hilariously weird. I’ve to yet seen Mr. Klein but I’ve read great reviews as well, even more to add to her already impressive resume! What a career.
Wait. Did you really do 4 screen grabs in this post and none of them are the freeze frame in Jules and Jim? Bold move.
@Matthew Moore- Yep, looked at a lot of great shots and a few freeze frames. Happy with these choices here.
@Malith- This page was written here in April 2022 and I only recently caught Mr. Klein in June of 2022 and added it to the archives
@Drake- what are your thoughts on the film and Delon’s performance?
@RujK- Admired both the film and performance- one of those films I wanted to see again right away after finishing. One one of these pages I believe a few other and I discussed The Tenant and even Fassbinder’s Despair which all come out sort of clustered together (with Fassbinder’s film coming in 1978 and the two others coming in 1976). Certainly Mr. Klein is a very nice resume add for both Losey and Delon.
“could express and animate as well as anyone this side of Giulietta Masina.”
Moreau won’t have the Chaplin-esque presence in La Strada and Nights of Cabiria but do you think that she can pull off playing Giulietta in Juliet of the Spirits (if the age allows)?
@M*A*S*H- Moreau could do just about anything- so I wouldn’t put really any role past her. But it would be a very different character in La Strada in particular. Less of a comedienne and certainly Moreau’s beauty would change the film and dynamic. But I’d like to see it. The Nights of Cabiria is the more interesting one to me. What do you think?
@Drake- I think she’ll be a misfit in La Strada. Idk about Cabiria tbh.
I was asking about Juliet of the Spirits. I think she’ll nail that role completely. Don’t you agree?
@M*A*S*H- Yeah I like that idea, good one
@Drake- Moreau I think is a magician. You think about all the great French and Italian film roles of 50s and 60s , there’s almost nothing that she can’t do. I mean you name it.
Nadia in Rocco and his brothers… She can nail that
Emmanuelle Riva’s role in Hiroshima Mon Amour…. Absolutely yeah!!!
Moving ahead in 70s That Most Important thing : love…. Yeah ( But Schneider is 10 years younger than Moreau)
Coming to 2010s Riva’s role in Amour…yeah.
You just keep on naming.
Now that’s called RANGE. I think she’s the most talented actress overall.
I could totally picture her as Cabiria. Her beauty has always struck me as decadent and naturally sexual, opposed to the regal elegance of Deneuve for example. Perfect casting. I think she could bring a subtlety as well that Masina isn’t quite as skilled at.
@Ce- what about Juliet of the Spirits? Moreau would be PITCH PERFECT in it.
@Drake and @Ce,
Can you guys see Moreau as Lola in Demy’s film? I definitely can.
I know I’m giving you more than you can chew here but I just can’t stop thinking about Moreau in all of the great French and Italian film roles of 50s and 60s of her age group.
1. Riva’s role in Hiroshima Mon Amour
2.Nadia in Rocco and his brothers (she was cast originally to play Nadia, later replaced by Girardot- happened again with The Piano Teacher)
3. Lola in Lola (1961)
These are 3 particular roles of the time, I feel she’ll excel at and ofc we talked about Juliet of the Spirits.
What are your thoughts?
I think Moreau will excel at playing a fully fleshed out character with all it’s quirks, ticks and personality.
Roles like all of Vitti’s work with Anotonioni and Karina’s work with Godard require a specific trait of the respective actress which is best displayed by them (also Karina is 12 years younger than Moreau). So I feel those roles are best left to Vitti and Karina.
You don’t seem to be getting to it so lemme rephrase my question
So we both agree that Moreau’s expressive face and eyes make her a fit for Juliet of the spirits (and you also say Cabiria)
Now I’m totally sure (and I know you’d be too) that Moreau can reach her dramatic peak for Hiroshima or Rocco (Elevator/la notte are proofs)
But can she pull off Lola’s incredible charisma in Lola (1961)?
Have I done anything to offend you? I just share my wild thoughts and ask yours.
Right now I’m just trying to calculate Jeanne Moreau’s range here. (Obsessively thinking about her as I’m exploring French cinema these days.)
Like yesterday I rewatched Les Diaboloques
Can Moreau play Nicole in Les Diaboloques? Signoret has this tough screen presence. Moreau would have to act that up. I think Moreau can pull off anything. Ive always seen Moreau play strong women who never give up to anyone. She can totally pull it off as well as Signoret. I believe. Do you?
It also would be a nice resume builder for her before the new wave.
@M*A*S*H- Not at all- I very much appreciate you visiting the site and the comments. I may have mentioned this earlier but I have been traveling so the time I have to respond to comments has been and will continue to be limited for some time. If I have strong thoughts on a comment and can find the time, I will make sure I respond back. If not, hopefully others can respond if they have opinions.