Nationality: French. Born: Cathérine Dorléac in Paris, 22 October 1943; daughtger of the actors Maurice Teynac and Renee Deneuve; sister of the actress Françoise Dorléac. Education: Attended École Lamazou and Lycée La Fontaine. Family: Married the photographer David Bailey, 1965 (divorced 1972); son with the director Roger Vadim: the actor Christian Vadim; daughter with the actor Marcello Mastroianni: the actress Chiara Mastroianni. Career: Made her film debut in a bit role in Les Collégiennes,1956; began a personal and professional relationship with director Roger Vadim, 1960; starred in Polanski's Repulsion, 1964; made her American film debut in Stuart Rosenberg's The April Fools, 1969; formed the production company Films de la Citrouille, 1971. Awards: Best Actress Cesar Award, for Le Dernier Metro, 1980; Best Actress César Award, for Indochine, 1992; Women in Film Crystal Award, 1993; San Sebastian International Film Festival Golden Seashell for Lifetime Achievement, 1995; Berlin Film Festival Honorary Golden Bear, 1998; Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup as Best Actress, for Place Vendome, 1998. Address: c/o Place St. Sulpice 76, Rue Bonaparte, Paris 75006, France.
Films as Actress:
Les Collégiennes (The Twilight Girls) (Hunebelle)
Les Petits Chats (Wild Roots of Love) (Villa)
Les Portes claquent (The Doors Slam) (Poitrenaud and Fermaud); L'Homme à femmes (Cornu)
"Sophie" ep. of Les Parisiennes (Tales of Paris; Of Beds and Broads) (Marc Allégret) (as Sophie)
. . . et Satan conduit le bal (Satan Leads the Dance) (Dabat); Le Vice et la vertu (Vice and Virtue) (Vadim) (as Justine); Vacances portugaises (Kast)
"L'Homme qui vendit la tour Eiffel" ("Paris") ep. of Les Plus Belles Escroqueries du monde (The Beautiful Swindlers; World's Greatest Swindlers) (Chabrol); Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) (Demy) (as Genevieve Emery); La Chasse à l'homme (The Gentle Art of Seduction; Male Hunt) (Molinaro) (as Denise); Un Monsieur de compagnie (Male Companion) (de Broca) (as Isabelle); La costanza della ragione (Avec amour et avec rage) (Campanile); Repulsion (Polanski) (as Carol Ledoux)
Le Chant du monde (Camus); "Der Somnabule" ep. of Das Liebeskarussell (Who Wants to Sleep?) (Thiele)
Les Créatures (Varelserna) (Varda) (as Mylene); La Vie de Château (A Matter of Resistance) (Rappeneau) (as Marie)
Belle de jour (Luis Buñuel) (as Severine Sevigny); Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls of Rochefort) (Demy) (as Delphine Garnier)
Benjamin ou Les mémoires d'un puceau (Benjamin; The Diary of an Innocent Boy) (Deville) (as Anne de Clecy); Manon 70 (Aurel) (title role); La Chamade (Cavalier); Mayerling (Terence Young) (as Baroness Maria Vetscra)
The April Fools (Rosenberg) (as Cathérine Gunther); La Sirène du Mississippi (Mississippi Mermaid) (Truffaut) (as Julie Roussel/Marion); Tout peut arriver (Don't Be Blue) (Labro)
Tristana (Luis Buñuel) (title role); Peau d'âne (The Magic Donkey; Donkey Skin) (Demy) (title role/Blue Queen); Henri Langlois (Hershon and Guerra)
Ça n'arrive qu'aux autres (It Only Happens to Others) (Trintignant) (as Cathérine)
La cagna (Liza) (Ferreri) (as Liza); Un flic (Dirty Money; A Cop) (Melville) (as Cathy)
L'Evènement le plus important depuis que l'homme a marché sur la lune (The Slightly Pregnant Man) (Demy); Touche pas à la femme blanche (Don't Touch White Women) (Ferreri) (as Marie-Elene)
Fatti di gente perbene (La Grande Bourgeoise; The Murri Affair; Drama of the Rich) (Bolognini) (as Linda Murri); La Femme aux bottes rouges (The Lady with the Red Boots; The Woman with the Red Boots) (Juan Buñuel) (as Françoise); Zig-zag (Szabó) (as Marie)
L'Agression (Act of Aggression) (Pirès); Hustle (Aldrich) (as Nicole Britton); Le Sauvage (Lovers Like Us; The Savage) (Rappeneau) (as Nelly)
Si c'était à refaire (Second Chance) (Lelouch) (as Cathérine); Anima persa (Lost Soul; The Forbidden Room) (Risi)
March or Die (Richards) (as Simone Picard); Coup de foudre (Enrico); Il Casotto (The Beach Hut) (Citti) (as woman in the dream)
L'Argent des autres (Dirty Money) (de Chalonge); Si je suis comme ça, c'est la faute de papa (When I Was a Kid, I Didn't Dare); Ecoute voir . . . (Look See . . .) (Santiago) (as Alphanol)
Ils sont grands ces petits (These Kids Are Grown-ups) (Santoni) (as Louise); Á Nous deux (Adventure for Two) (Lelouch)
Courage, fuyons (Robert) (as Eva); Le Dernier Métro (The Last Metro) (Truffaut) (as Marion Steiner); Je vous aime (I Love All of You) (Berri); Abattre
Le Choix des Armes (Choice of Arms) (Corneau) (as Nicole Durieux); A Second Chance (Lelouch) (as Cathérine Berger); Reporters (Depardon)
Le Choc (The Shock) (Robin Davis); Hotel des Amériques (Hotel of the Americas) (Téchiné) (as Hélène)
L'Africain (The African) (de Broca) (as Charlotte); Fort Saganne (Corneau) (as Louise); Le Bon Plaisir (Girod) (as Clair Despres)
The Hunger (Tony Scott) (as Miriam); Paroles et musique (Love Songs) (Chouraqui) (as Margaux)
Speriamo che sia femmina (Let's Hope It's a Girl) (Monicelli) (as Aunt Claudia)
Le Lieu du crime (The Scene of the Crime) (Téchiné) (as Lili)
Agent Trouble (Mocky) (as Amanda Weber)
Drole d'endroit pour une rencontre (A Strange Place to Meet) (Dupeyron) (as France, + pr); Fréquence meurtre (Rappeneau) (as Jeanne Quester)
Terres jaunes (Wargnier); Helmut Newton: Frames from the Edge (doc) (as Herself)
Fleur de Rubis (Mocky)
La Reine Blanche (Hubert) (as Liliane Ripoche)
Indochine (Wargnier) (as Eliane Devries); Contre l'oubli (Against Oblivion) (Akerman and others) (as Herself)
Ma Saison Préférée (My Favorite Season) (Téchiné) (as Emilie); Les Demoiselles ont eu 25 Ans (The Young Girls Turn 25) (Varda—doc)
La Partie d'echecs (The Chess Game) (Hanchar) (as Marquise); Petits heures du matin
Les Cent et une nuits (A Hundred and One Nights) (Varda) (as Actor for a Day); O Convento (The Convent) (de Oliviera) (as Hélène)
Les Voleurs (Thieves) (Téchiné) (as Marie Leblanc)
Généalogies d'un crime (Genealogies of a Crime) (Ruiz) (as Jeanne/Solange)
Place Vendôme (Garcia) (as Marianne)
Le Temps retrouvé (Ruiz) (as Odette); The Last Nepoleon (as Empress Eugenie); Est-ouest (Wargnier) (as Gabrielle Develay); A Carta (de Oliveira); Le Vent de la nuit (Garrel); Belle Maman (Aghion) (as Léa); Pola X (Carax) (as Marie)
Dancer in the Dark (von Trier) (as Kathy)
By DENEUVE: articles—
"Une Créature du Cinéma," interview with M. Most, in Cinema (Beverly Hills), no. 1, 1965.
Interview with Nadine Liber, in Life (New York), 24 January 1969.
"Cathérine Deneuve," interview with P. Carcassone, in Cinématographe (Paris), April 1977.
Interview with G. Haustrate and J.-P. Le Pavec, in Cinéma (Paris), July-August 1981.
"Les Jeux de l'instinct et du hasard," interview with M. Chevrie and D. Dubroux, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1984.
Interview with Serge Toubiana, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), May 1986.
"A Conversation with Cathérine Deneuve," interview with Bill Grantham, in Interview (New York), January 1993.
Interview with T. Jousse and C. Nevers, in Cahiers du Cinema (Paris), May 1993.
Deneuve, Cathérine, "Une lettre de Cathérine Deneuve," in Télérama (Paris), 9 June 1993.
"Deneuve," interview with Judy Wieder, in Advocate (Los Angeles), 25 July 1995.
On DENEUVE: books—
Vadim, Roger, Memoirs of the Devil, New York, 1977.
Neuhoff, Eric, Cathérine Deneuve, Paris, 1980.
Gerber, François, Cathérine Deneuve, Paris, 1981.
Barbier, Philippe, and Jacques Moreau, Cathérine Deneuve, Paris, 1984.
D'une etoile l'autre, Paris, 1986.
Vadim, Roger, Bardot, Deneuve, Fonda: The Memoirs of Roger Vadim, London, 1986.
Cathérine Deneuve: portraits chosis, Paris, 1993.
On DENEUVE: articles—
Current Biography 1978, New York, 1978.
Ecran (Paris), January 1978.
Canby, Vincent, "The Performer vs. the Role: Cathérine Deneuve and James Mason," in The Movie Star, edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.
Hotchner, A. E., "Cathérine Deneuve: A Vulnerable Dream Girl in Paris," in Choice People, 1984.
DeNicolo, D., "Eternally French. She's Deneuve," in New York Times, 20 December 1992.
Clark, J., "Filmographies," in Premiere (New York), January 1993.
Clements, M., "Belle toujours," in Premiere (New York), January 1993.
Vincendeau, Ginette, "Fire and Ice," in Sight and Sound (London), April 1993.
Nevers, C., "Deneuve en face," in Cahiers du Cinema (Paris), May 1993.
Amar, M. and Pierre Murat, "Le jeu discret de la bourgeoisie/Ma saison préférée," in Télérama (Paris), 19 May 1993.
Elia, M., "La belle Francoise," in Sequences (Quebec), January/February 1997.
Norman, Barry, "Is Ice-Queen Catherine Truly Great?" in Radio Times (London), 4 October 1997.
* * *
The wit who mistranslated "La Belle Dame sans merci" as "The Beautiful Lady Who Never Says 'Thank You"' achieved by chance a perfect encapsulation of France's two most potent female stars of the 1960s. On an axis with Jeanne Moreau at one pole and Cathérine Deneuve at the other, that cinema can be seen to revolve—an industry and art, paradoxically for a nation united under de Gaulle in its respect for family, social formality, and la gloire, which preoccupied itself with the demi-mondaine: gamblers, criminals, soldiers of fortune, and, most of all, its destructive, beguiling, but always unbeholden feminine adventurers.
Of the actresses who played these soiled heroines, none succeeded more stylishly than Deneuve. Moreau's pouting sourness led her, via an association with the nouvelle vague, to the epicene baroque of late Fassbinder. Deneuve, almost preternaturally beautiful, a confection of peach skin and golden hair, offered little to stimulate the new directors, with the exception of Roger Vadim. She survived two routine films with him (as well as the obligatory domestic entanglement) to become one of France's most successful star exports, a symbol of lustful purity for forces as disparate as Luis Buñuel and Chanel perfume.
The title of an otherwise unremarkable film, Touche pas á la femme blanche, might be her emblem. Deneuve's most potent stock in trade has always been a beguiling and complaisant innocence, combined with an ingrained seriousness, even solemnity, that her most unbuttoned action cannot dislodge. To see Deneuve laughing is to see her naked, yet physical nudity reveals no more of this remarkable woman than it would of the young Garbo.
Whether playing a high-priced Los Angeles call girl in Aldrich's Hustle, a psychopath in Polanski's Repulsion, the bisexual private eye of Ecoute voir . . ., or a second-rate chanteuse in the trivial farce Courage, fuyons, she remains apparently remote, calm, moving to a private rhythm, occupied with thoughts uniquely her own. As Jacques Siclier wrote of her role as the compromised political wife in Le Bon Plaisir, "Here, where artifice covers everything, Cathérine Deneuve remains honest, natural and disinterested."
An actress capable of playing, on the one hand, the sentimental provincial heroines of Demy's musical fantasies Les Parapluies de Cherbourg and Les Demoiselles de Rochefort and the fairy story Peau d'âne, and on the other the calculating lovers of Benjamin ou Les mémoires d'un puceau, Manon 70, Mayerling, and Truffaut's La Sirène du Mississippi, as well as the insouciant anti-Nazi schemer of his Le Dernier Métro, would clearly attract Buñuel. But it was the disinterest Siclier mentions which gave Buñuel the material for Belle de jour and Tristana. Buñuel distilled the essence of Deneuve's appeal. Calm but never placid, distant but always touchable, subtly or, as the amputee of Tristana, grossly mutilated but confident in her essential concept of self, she epitomized his vision of woman as destroying angel—a whore with a heart, not of gold, but of glass. In particular in Belle de jour, Deneuve's sexuality is self-contained; she is the detached yet eternally sexual (as opposed to romantic) creature. In this film, she was never more beautiful in the role of Severine, a virginal upper-class lady of leisure who has everything a woman who has not embraced feminism could ask for: porcelain good looks, a handsome and successful husband, servants and good clothes, and all the time to spend money she has had no part in earning. But Severine is despondent. She begins having erotic fantasies. And soon, she takes part-time work in a brothel: a job she eventually comes to relish. Severine does not know why she is so attracted to her double life. "But without this I could not live," she eventually remarks, of her employment. One cannot imagine any actress other than Deneuve in the role of Severine.
Like Moreau, Deneuve decorated her middle years with portraits of surpassing decadence, but characteristically the crumbling exterior of Moreau's raddled madam in Querelle hid a girlish romantic, while Deneuve as the vampire in Tony Scott's The Hunger, though outwardly unmarked by age, has decayed to the core with centuries of lust and self-regard. Yet her innocence remained, almost to the end, unsullied, her tenderness for her dying partner David Bowie sincere and touching, her seduction of Susan Sarandon no mere acquisition of fresh meat but an act of carnal and spiritual love. La Belle Dame sans merci, certainly, but also, as so often with this remarkable actress, sans peur et sans reproche.
Deneuve has continued to play the sexual creature, in films ranging in quality from the low of Paroles et musique, in which she has a relationship with an ambitious young rock singer, to the high of Indochine, in which she and her adopted Vietnamese daughter fall for a navy officer. In the latter, she transcends the film's soap opera storyline, offering a deservedly acclaimed performance. Two of her best 1990s roles came in films directed by Andre Techine, both thoughtful and involving explorations of emotions in which she co-starred with Daniel Auteuil. In Ma Saison Preferee, Deneuve plays a troubled woman who has a passionless relationship with her husband. Her one true soul mate is her younger brother (Auteuil), with whom she has been estranged, and their attempt to reconcile results in a complex psychological tug-of-war as they are forced to deal with their unresolved feelings. In Les Voleurs, Deneuve is a philosophy professor who, along with Auteuil's no-nonsense police detective, is amorously fixated on the same scruffy, unpredictable yet alluring young woman (Laurence Cote). In both films, Deneuve and Auteuil are able to make even the most rudimentary dramatic sequences pulsate with emotion.
Now well into middle-age, Deneuve has settled in as one of the French cinema's aristocrats and legends. Any film in which she appears, even in a small role—such as Est-ouest, in which she plays an actress—automatically radiates prestige.
—John Baxter, updated by Rob Edelman