de Beauregard, Georges
de BEAUREGARD, Georges
Producer. Nationality: French. Born: Edgar Denys Nau de Beauregard in Marseilles, 23 December 1920. Education: Studied law. Military Service: During World War II. Career: Journalist; 1947—founded Agence Universel Presse; entered film business as distributor; then film producer in Spain; 1960—founded Rome-Paris-Films; 1973—founded Bela Productions. Award: Special César award, 1983. Died: 10 September 1984.
Films as Producer or Coproducer:
Muerte de un ciclista (Death of a Cyclist; Age of Infidelity) (Bardem)
Calle Mayor (The Lovemaker) (Bardem)
La Passe du diable (Dupont and Schöndörffer)
Pecheur d'Islande (Schöndörffer)
Adieu Philippine (Rozier); A bout de souffle (Breathless) (Godard)
Lola (Demy); Cléo de 5 à 7 (Cleo from 5 to 7) (Varda); Une Femme est une femme (A Woman Is a Woman) (Godard)
L'Oeil du malin (The Third Lover) (Chabrol)
Léon Morin—prêtre (Melville); Landru (Bluebeard) (Chabrol); Le Petit Soldat (Godard—produced 1960); Le Doulos (Doulos—the Finger Man) (Melville); Le Mépris (Contempt) (Godard); Les Carabiniers (Godard); Les Baisers (Berri and others)
La Chance et l'amour (Tavernier and others); Le Vampire de Düsseldorf (Hossein); La 317e Section (Schöndörffer)
Pierrot le fou (Godard); Marie-Chantal contre le Dr. Kha (Chabrol)
Objectif 500 millions (Schöndörffer); Un Choix d'assassins (Fourastie); Le Ligne de démarcation (Line of Demarcation) (Chabrol); Made in U.S.A. (Godard); Suzanne Simonin, la religieuse de Denis Diderot (La Religieuse; The Nun) (Rivette)
La Collectioneuse (Rohmer); Lamiel (Fourastie)
L'Amour fou (Rivette); 48 heures d'amour (St. Laurent)
Le Petit Bournat (Toublanc-Michel)
Le Mur de l'Atlantique (Camus)
Le Bar de la fourche (Levent)
Prêtres interdits (de la Patellière); Gross Paris (Grangier)
Numéro deux (Godard); Les Fougères bleues (Schöndörffer)
Le Crabe-Tambour (Schöndörffer)
Tout dépend des filles (Fabre); La Légion saute sur Kolwezi (Coutard)
Le Cheval d'orgueil (Chabrol)
L'Honneur d'un capitaine (Schöndörffer)
By de BEAUREGARD: articles—
Cinématographe (Paris), 10 September 1960.
Cinéma (Paris), no. 94, 1965.
Film Quarterly (Berkeley, California), Spring 1967.
On de BEAUREGARD: articles—
Avant-Scène (Paris), 15 February 1964.
Ciné Française (Paris), no. 8, 1965.
Film Français (Paris), 2 March 1982.
Film Français (Paris), 1 October 1982.
Cinématographe (Paris), May 1984.
Cinéma (Paris), October 1984.
Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), November 1984.
Obituary in Revue du Cinéma (Paris), no. 399, November 1984.
* * *
Georges de Beauregard is best known as one of the producers of the French New Wave filmmakers of the late 1950s and early 1960s. His adventurous spirit and enthusiasm for negotiation and financial risk corresponded to the audacious confidence of the generation of directors, headed by Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, and François Truffaut, that swept aside the classicism of the "tradition of quality" and established a new, more vital form of filmmaking. In a sense, the New Wave was at least as great a revolution in production as in direction; the small-budget films of Georges de Beauregard (like those produced by Pierre Braunberger), shot on location and without stars, put an end to the dominance of French cinema by the solid yet somewhat stale work of studio-bound directors such as Claude Autant-Lara, Christian-Jaque, and Jean Delannoy. A fresher, more personal style of filmmaking developed, in which the camera was assimilated to the pen of a writer and the director, assuming virtual total control of his or her work, could become an "auteur."
Even though de Beauregard was not the first producer of the films of the young generation of directors to emerge from the ranks of the critics of the Cahiers du Cinéma (Chabrol's Le Beau Serge and Les Cousins, and Truffaut's Les Quatre Cents Coups had already proved the financial credibility of small-budget filmmaking), his courage was nevertheless great in producing the first full-length feature films of Jean-Luc Godard (A bout de souffle), Jacques Demy (Lola), Jacques Rozier (Adieu Philippine), and Agnès Varda (Cléo de 5 à 7), and later such contentious works as Godard's second film, Le Petit Soldat (banned until 1963) and Jacques Rivette's Suzanne Simonin, la religieuse de Denis Diderot. This courage was backed by a strong faith in his directors and in the need for innovation in the French cinema. For de Beauregard, confidence in the originality of ideas, rather than youth for the sake of youth, often determined his decisions to produce; he was equally ready, for example, to produce Le Doulos, a highly personal thriller by Jean-Pierre Melville who had been directing feature films since 1947, as the first works of the impressive Cahiers du Cinéma critics, or, in Les Baisers, a film composed of sketches, to reveal the talents of five new directors at once: Bertrand Toublanc, Claude Berri, Bertrand Tavernier, Charles Bitsch, and J-F Hauduroy.
The great achievement of de Beauregard was that this flair for newness and vitality did not operate in terms of an esoteric underground marginality, but most often corresponded to what the general public wanted. Maintaining an awareness of the importance of the demands of the public (both domestic and international) assured the financial success of films as innovative as A bout de souffle and proved that formal inventiveness and originality, as demonstrated by the New Wave, need not be the exclusive privilege of an avant-garde minority.
The path by which de Beauregard came to film production reveals the origins of the taste for risk that characterizes the bold nature of many of his productions. After several years in the army and work in journalism (he founded the Agence Universel Presse in 1947), de Beauregard became involved in the selling of American films to French distributors (including films by Lubitsch and Milestone) and the export of French films to Brazil. He moved to Spain in 1950, where he continued to import American films, and eventually applied his entrepreneurial flair to film production. After one film by Miguel Iglésia, he produced two films by the militant anti-Francist Juan Antonio Bardem, Muerte de un ciclista and Calle Mayor, which courageously portrayed life under Franco and greatly contributed to a renaissance in Spanish cinema. The courage in producing such politically bold films as those of Bardem prefigures de Beauregard's career in France, marked by the formal audacities of the New Wave and the confrontations with French censors for both Le Petit Soldat and Suzanne Simonin. De Beauregard's military career, on the other hand, accounts for another facet of his productions: a number of larger budget films which reveal a nostalgia for the camaraderie of the military and, true to his own personality, a strong dose of adventure. The clearest examples of this aspect of his work are Pierre Schöndörffer's La Passe du diable, La 317e Section, Objectif 500 millions, Le Crabe-Tambour, and L'Honneur d'un capitaine, and Raoul Coutard's La Légion saute sur Kolwezi.
But whatever sort of film de Beauregard was producing, he remained true to the notion of the director as "auteur," seeing it as his role both to provide the necessary material means for a production and to encourage an atmosphere that suited and stimulated the creative temperament of the director and his collaborators. It is this which made him and his production company, Rome-Paris-Films (established in 1960 with Carlo Ponti), so respected by directors. For such excellent relationships with his directors, for his encouragement of new talent, and for demonstrating, especially in his early New Wave productions, that successful cinema does not necessarily require exhorbitant budgets and studio facilities, Georges de Beauregard will be remembered as an exemplary producer.