Jean-Pierre Aumont, charme et fou-rires – 1999

What I love about him? It’s that poetic side… He lives in his own world… his own universe… He is very personable and unique, which makes him stand out from other men!

Marisa Pavan Aumont

An original documentary

The documentary Jean-Pierre Aumont: charme et fou-rires was created by Patty Villiers, daughter of French director François Villiers, himself Jean-Pierre Aumont’s younger brother, which makes this an homage from niece to here artist-actor uncle! This documentary, as the title suggests, traces the life of an actor which is rich in emotion and twists from his birth in 1911 (as Jean-Pierre Philippe Salomons) until 1999. It is quite originally composed of a compilation of interviews, stills and moving images taken directly from the family archives as well as numerous clips from his greatest film appearances, live tours, theatre with, among others, the woman whom he lived 40 happy years with: Marisa! Among those interviewed, we find his brother François Villiers, his daughter Maria-Christina “Tina” (whom he had with actress María Montez who died in 1951), director Claude Lelouch, actress Leslie Caron, actress and first wife Blanche Montel, actor Francis Huster as well as other from the artistic milieu. Strangely, Jean-Pierre himself is among the least interviewed in the film. He mostly appears as part of anecdotes or for clarification of facts as well as towards the end of the film in the company of his dear wife, Marisa.

Where is the charming Marisa situated in this documentary?

Aged 66 at the time of its filming, she remained elegant and beautiful appearing mostly in the film’s second half. She recounts with enthusiasm and a sense of humour her unexpected first encounter with Jean-Pierre in 1953 when she went to pay him a visit in his dressing room after his stage appearance in “Les Pavés du Ciel” with Micheline Presle. Then later in the film she discusses his personality as an actor, husband and over. Gradually as we watch the film we can also see in rare archival footage, Marisa surrounded by her two sons, Jean-Claude and Patrick. It ends with a conversation between Marisa and Jean-Pierre that concludes in tender passionate kisses.

Personal opinion:

An interesting and informative document for real fans of Aumont and for those who wish to know more about this uniquely talented man. Its presentation is efficient in the way it seamlessly blends modern interviews with popular film clips, songs and archival footage. However, it can be difficult to follow as the narrator presents her subject in Italian with her speech regularly cut off by interviews conducted in French and English. It is also unfortunate to not have his sons speak of their father. Marisa is a very dynamic personality and it is always a pleasure to see her on camera even if it does not concern her own career. It is one that I recommend for its originality, interesting subject and all the anecdotes we pick up on the life of Jean-Pierre!