Nationality: French. Born: Bordeaux, 1 May 1917. Education: Studied the cello at the Paris Conservatory. Family: Married 1) the director Henri Decoin, 1934 (divorced 1940); 2) Porfirio Rubirosa, 1942 (divorced 1947); 3) the author Georges Mitsinkides, 1948. Career: 1931—film acting debut in Le Bal; 1936—international recognition for role in Mayerling; 1937—stage debut in Paris; 1950s-1975—made films in a number of countries; 1960s—began making concert appearances and recordings; 1970—replaced Katharine Hepburn in Broadway musical Coco; 1971—on London stage in The Ambassadors. Awards: Chevalier de la legion d'honneur, 1962; Officier de la legion d'honneur, 1977. Address: 1 rue Alfred de Vingnu, 75008 Paris, France.
Films as Actress:
Le Bal (Thiele)
Coquecigrole (Berthomieu); Panurge (Bernheim); Le Coffret de laque (Kemm)
Château de rêve (Bolvary and Clouzot)
Mauvaise graine (Bad Blood) (Wilder and Esway) (as Jeanette); Volga en flammes (Tourjansky); La Crise est finie (Siodmak); Dédée (Guissart); L'Or dans la rue (Bernhardt); Mon Coeur t'appelle (Gallone and Veber)
Le Contrôleur des wagon-lits (Eichberg); Quelle drôle de gosse! (Joannon); J'aime toutes les femmes (Lamac); Le Domino vert (Decoin and Selpin); Mademoiselle Mozart (Noé)
Mayerling (Litvak) (as Marie Vetsera); Tarass Boulba (Granowski) (as Marina); Port-Arthur (Farkas); Club de femmes (Deval); Un Mauvais Garçon (Boyer)
Mademoiselle ma mère (Decoin); Abus de confiance (Abused Confidence) (Decoin) (as Lydia)
Katia (Maurice Tourneur); Retour à l'aube (Decoin); The Rage of Paris (Koster) (as Nicole de Cortillon); Avocate D'amour (Counsel for Romance) (Ploquin) (as Jacqueline Serval)
Battements de coeur (Decoin)
Premier rendez-vous (Her First Affair) (Decoin) (as Micheline Chevassu); Caprices (Joannon)
La Fausse Maîtresse (Cayatte)
Adieu Chérie (Bernard)
Au petit bonheur (L'Herbier)
Bethsabée (Moguy); Ruy Blas (Billon) (as Queen)
Jean de la lune (Achard)
Occupe-toi d'Amélie (Autant-Lara) (as Amélie d'Avranches)
La Ronde (Circle of Love) (Max Ophüls) (as Emma Breitkopf); Romanzo d'amore (Toselli) (Coletti)
Rich, Young, and Pretty (Taurog) (as Marie Deverone); La Maison Bonnadieu (Rim); "La Maison Tellier" ("The House of Madame Tellier") ep. of Le Plaisir (House of Pleasure) (Max Ophüls) (as Rosa); La Vérité sur Bébé Donge (Decoin)
Five Fingers (Operation Cicero) (Joseph L. Mankiewicz) (as Anna); Adorables créatures (Adorable Creatures) (Christian-Jaque) (as Christians)
Le Bon Dieu sans confession (Autant-Lara); Madame de . . . (The Earrings of Madame De . . .; The Diamond Earrings) (Max Ophüls) (as Countess Louise de); Châteaux en Espagne (Wheeler)
Escalier de service (Rim); Napoléon (Guitry) (as Eleonore Denuelle); Bonnes à tuer (Decoin); Le Rouge et le noir (The Red and the Black) (Autant-Lara) (as Mme. Louise de Rênal)
L'Affaire des poisons? (One Step to Eternity) (Decoin) (as Mme. de Montespan); L'Amant de Lady Chatterley (Lady Chatterley's Lover) (Marc Allégret) (as Constance Chatterley)
Si Paris nous était conté (If Paris Were Told to Us) (Guitry) (as Agnes Sorel); Alexander the Great (Rossen) (as Olympias); Typhon sur Nagasaki (Typhoon over Nagasaki) (Ciampi); Le Salaire du péché (de la Patellière)
Pot-Bouille (The House of Lovers) (Duvivier)
Le Septième Ciel (Bernard); Le Désordre et la nuit (Night Affair) (Grangier) (as Therese Marken); La Vie à deux (Life as a Couple) (Duhour); Un Drôle de dimanche (Marc Allègret) (as Catherine)
Marie-Octobre (Duvivier); Les Yeux de l'amour (de la Patellière)
Meurtre en 45 tours (Death at 45 RPM; Murder at 45 RPM) (Périer) (as Eve Faugeres); L'Homme à femmes (Cornu)
The Greengage Summer (Loss of Innocence) (Lewis Gilbert) (as Mme. Zisi); Les Lions sont lâchés (Verneuil); Les Bras de la nuit (Guymont); Vive Henri IV, Vive l'Amour (Autant-Lara)
"L'Homme de l'avenue" ("The Man on the Avenue") ep. of Le Crime ne paie pas (Crime Does Not Pay; The Gentle Art of Murder) (Oury); "L'Inceste" ep. of Le Diable et les dix commandements (The Devil and the Ten Commandments) (Duvivier) (as Clarisse Ardant); Pourqoui Paris? (de la Patellière)
Landru (Bluebeard) (Chabrol) (as Berthe Heon); Du grabuge chez les veuves (Poitrenaud); Méfiez-vous, mesdames! (Hunebelle)
Patate (Friend of the Family) (Thomas) (as Edith Rollo)
Le Coup de grâce (Cayrol and Durand); L'Or du Duc (Baratier); Le Dimanche de la vie (Herman)
Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls of Rochefort) (Demy) (as Yvonne); L'Homme à la Buick (Grangier)
Les Oiseaux vont mourir au Pérou (Birds Come to Die in Peru; Birds Do It) (Gary) (as Fernande); Vingt-quatre heures de la vie d'une femme (24 Hours in a Woman's Life) (Delouche) (as Alice)
La Maison de campagne (Girault)
No encontre rosas para mi madre (Roses rouges et piments verts) (Beleta)
L'Année sainte (Girault) (as Christina)
Le Cavaleur (Practice Makes Perfect; The Skirt Chaser) (de Broca) (as Suzanne Taylor)
Mort en sautoir (Goutas)
Une Chambre en ville (A Room in Town) (Demy) (as Baroness de Neuville)
En Haut des marches (Vecchichi) (as Françoise Canavaggia); Dame aux milles et une vies (Gautas)
L'Age vermeil (Kahane—for TV); Marie, Marie (Chatel—for TV)
Le Lieu du crime (The Scene of the Crime) (Téchiné) (as Grandmother); Corps et biens (Jacquot) (as Mme. Krantz)
Lawyers (de la Patellière); Quelques jours avec moi (A Few Days with Me) (Sautet) (as Mme. Pasquier)
La Tête dans la nuages (Vecchiali)
Bille en tête (Headstrong) (Cotti) (as L'Arquebuse)
Le Jour des Rois (as Armande)
Les Mille et une recettes du cuisinier amoureux (Djorddjadze)
By DARRIEUX: articles—
Interview in Ciné Revue (Paris), 5 February 1981.
Interview with N. Angel, in Cinématographe (Paris), October 1983.
On DARRIEUX: articles—
Billard, G., "But Darrieux Seeks New Horizons," in Films and Filming (London), October 1955.
Whitehall, Richard, "Danielle Darrieux," in Films and Filming (London), December 1961.
Ecran (Paris), April 1978.
Ciné Revue (Paris), 24 September 1981.
Cinéma (Paris), January 1983.
Chirat, R., "Le temps de Danielle," in L'Avant-Scene Cinema (Paris), February 1991.
Stars (Mariembourg, Belgium), Spring 1993.
* * *
In a career extending over seven decades and more than 100 films Danielle Darrieux has deployed her considerable talents in an impressive diversity of roles. Though most readily associated with sophisticated comedy or romantic drama, she has also brought depth to melodrama and graced musicals with her fine voice.
After her debut at the age of 14 in Le Bal as a willful adolescent, she was frequently cast during the 1930s as the fractious, wayward teenager who eventually succeeds despite misfortune or social handicap. Her burgeoning vocal talents were heard in musicals such as La Crise est finie, and her innate vitality and sense of timing enlivened lighthearted comedies such as Un Mauvais Garçon, while a controlled passivity in her playing conveyed a tragic quality to period melodramas such as Port-Arthur. International acclaim came with Mayerling in which, as the beautiful and tragic Marie Vetsera, she achieved a deeply moving and seemingly intuitive characterization.
Stardom brought her contracts with many filmmakers in several countries, but Darrieux's major performances are associated with three directors in particular: Henri Decoin, Claude Autant-Lara, and Max Ophüls. During the 1930s Decoin, then her husband, developed her talents in a variety of films that reflected the different styles of the period. Following her tragic debut in Le Domino vert as the heroine under emotional and financial stress, she appeared in Mademoisellema mère, a film of dark poetic realism, in which as a headstrong daughter rejecting parental advice she marries a middle-aged man and then has an affair with his son. The mood is brighter in Abus de confiance where she portrays an orphan who cheerfully dupes her benefactor. In Battements de coeur she confirmed her range by playing an unruly delinquent who is transformed into a sophisticated woman of the world.
Her performances for Decoin, impressive in their variety alone, were never less than convincing, but it was with Autant-Lara in the late 1940s and early 1950s that Darrieux distinguished her film career as a brilliant romantic actress. In Occupe-toi d'Amélie, an unashamedly theatrical Feydeau farce, she played with sparkling vivacity and considerable elegance the beautifully enticing but outrageously self-centered Amélie d'Avranches who delights in teasing her many suitors. In complete contrast was her later role as Madame de Rênal in Le Rouge et le noir. Now as a bored provincial falling selflessly in love with a proud and insecure young man, she gave a performance of great tenderness, maturity, and restraint, conveying with tremulous delicacy the powerful but guilty emotion she feels. In films directed by Max Ophüls her interpretation of romantic roles was further extended. In La Ronde her performance as the understanding married woman in bed with her lover beset by temporary impotence is exquisitely subtle in tone and timing. As Rosa, the prostitute of Le Plaisir, she again excelled in a more robust and wickedly ironic part, but perhaps her finest acting came in Madame de . . ., in which, as the elegant aristocrat, she suffers deeply and is ultimately destroyed when a casual affair develops into an impossible passion. To this tragic role she lent a fragile dignity and a sense of resignation which crystallized in unsurpassed romantic acting.
Films made outside France also mark Darrieux's career, notably those produced in America. Before the war she appeared in a Hollywood star vehicle, The Rage of Paris, as a vulnerable French girl alone in New York seeking a husband. In the 1950s she returned to play and sing as Marie Deverone, a French cabaret artist, in the MGM musical Rich, Young, and Pretty. She appeared as a double-crossing countess in Five Fingers, and in the epic Alexander the Great was a commendable Olympias. During the late 1950s and 1960s her range did not diminish: she played comic parts opposite Bourvil in Un Drôle de dimanche and Fernandel in L'Homme à la Buick, tragic parts in Resistance dramas such as Marie-Octobre and Le Coup de grâce, now a poised elegant widow in Pot-Bouille, now a hard lesbian madame in Les Oiseaux vont mourir au Pérou, and in a delightful though nostalgic role she was the slightly eccentric mother of Les Demoiselles de Rochefort.
During the late 1970s Darrieux increasingly turned her attention to television work and the theater. The 1980s, however, brought a welcome return to the screen with memorable parts that confirmed the undiminished breadth and depth of her talents. In Vecchiali's En Haut des marches, a demanding emotional range was required as Françoise Canavaggia, a French woman intent on revenging her husband's wartime death at the hands of collaborators; in Corps et biens she was the alcoholic Mme. Krantz doggedly investigating her friend's death; in Demy's musical comedy Une Chambre en ville she excelled as the lonely alcoholic industrialist Baronness de Neuville, determined to break a strike.
—R. F. Cousins