LOUIS MALLE Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


Biography » theater opera and movie personalities » louis malle


Name: Louis Malle                                                                             
Born: 30 October 1932 Thumeries, Nord, France                                                 
Died: 23 November 1995 Beverly Hills, California, USA                                         
Louis Malle (October 30, 1932 – November 23, 1995) was an Academy Award                     
nominated French film director, working in both French and English.                           
Malle was born into a wealthy industrialist family in Thumeries, Nord, France.                 
He initially studied political science at the Sorbonne before turning to film                 
studies at IDHEC instead.                                                                     
He worked as the co-director and cameraman to Jacques Cousteau on the Oscar and               
Palme d'Or-winning (at the 1956 Academy Awards and Cannes Film Festival                       
respectively) documentary The Silent World (1956) and assisted Robert Bresson on               
A Man Escaped (French title: Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle           
où il veut, 1956) before making his first feature, Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (originally     
released in the U.S. as Frantic, later as Elevator to the Gallows) in 1957. A                 
taut thriller featuring an original score by Miles Davis, the film made an                     
international film star of Jeanne Moreau, at the time a leading stage actress of               
the state Comédie-Française. Malle was 24 years old.                                         
Malle's The Lovers (Les Amants, 1958), which like Ascenseur pour l'échafaud                   
starred Moreau, caused major controversy due to its sexual content leading to a               
landmark U.S. Supreme Court case regarding the legal definition of obscenity. In               
Jacobellis v. Ohio, a theater owner was fined $2500 for obscenity. It was                     
eventually reversed by the higher court that found that the film was not obscene               
and hence constitutionally protected. However, the court could not agree on the               
definition of "obscene," which caused Justice Potter Stewart to utter his "I                   
know it when I see it" opinion, perhaps the most famous single line associated                 
with the court.                                                                               
A Scene from The Lovers (1958)                                                                 
Malle is sometimes incorrectly associated with the nouvelle vague - his work                   
doesn't fit in or correspond to the auteurist theories that apply to the work of               
Truffaut, Chabrol, Rohmer, and others, and he had nothing whatsoever to do with               
Cahiers du cinema. Nonetheless, his film Zazie dans le métro ("Zazie in the                   
Metro," 1960, an adaptation of the Raymond Queneau novel) did inspire Truffaut                 
to write an enthusiastic letter to Malle.                                                     
Other films also tackled taboo subjects: The Fire Within (1963) centres on a man               
about to commit suicide, Murmur of the Heart (1971) deals with an incestuous                   
relationship between mother and son and Lacombe Lucien (1974) is about                         
collaboration with the Nazis in Vichy France in World War II. The second film                 
earned Malle his first (of three) Academy Award nominations for "Best Writing,                 
Story and Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously                     
Published or Produced."                                                                       
Malle later moved to the United States and continued to direct there. His later               
films include Pretty Baby (1978), Atlantic City (1981), My Dinner with Andre (1981),           
Damage (1992) and Vanya on 42nd Street (1994, an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's                 
play Uncle Vanya) in English; Au revoir, les enfants (1987) and Milou en Mai (May             
Fools in the U.S., 1990) in French. It is interesting to note that just as his                 
earlier films such as Frantic and The Lovers helped popularize French films in                 
the United States, My Dinner with Andre was at the forefront of the rise of                   
American independent cinema in the 1980s.