Hakim, Raymond and Robert

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HAKIM, Raymond and Robert

Producers. Nationality: Egyptian. Born: Robert in Alexandria, 19 December 1907; Raymond in Alexandria, 23 August 1909. Education: Both brothers educated in France. Career: Both worked for Paramount in France; 1934—went into independent production; 1940—moved to Hollywood; 1950—returned to France; Robert went into distribution alone. Died: Raymond—in Deauville, 14 August 1980.

Films as Producers (selected list):


Pépé le Moko (Duvivier)


La Bête Humaine (Renoir)


Le Jour se lève (Carné)


The Southerner (Renoir) (co)


Her Husband's Affairs (Simon); The Long Night (Litvak)


Without Honor (Pichel)


The Blue Veil (Bernhardt)


Casque d'or (Becher)


Thérèse Raquin (Carné)


The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Notre Dame of Paris) (Delannoy)


Pot-bouille (Duvivier)


A double tour (Web of Passion; Leda) (Chabrol)


Plein Soleil (Clément); Les Bonnes Femmes (Chabrol)


L'éclisse (Antonioni); Eva (Eve) (Losey)


Chair de poule (Highway Pickup) (Duvivier)


Weekend à Zuydcoote (Weekend at Dunkirk) (Verneuil); La Ronde (Vadim)


Belle de jour (Buñuel); Isadora (Reisz)


Heartbeat (Cavalier)


The Loves of Isadora (Reisz)


La Marge (Borowczyk)


On HAKIM: article—

Obituary (Raymond), in Variety (New York), 3 September 1980.

Pawelczak, Andy, "Purple Noon," in Films in Review, September-October 1996.

* * *

After working for Paramount in Paris, the Egypt-born Hakim brothers became independent producers in 1934, financing Duvivier's Pépé le Moko and Renoir's La Bête Humaine. These sensational and discreetly salacious films by directors who, though well-established, were slightly out of the mainstream, established a strategy that would help the Hakims survive French cinema's most disastrous decades.

In 1940, they joined many colleagues (including Julien Duvivier and Jean Renoir) in fleeing to California. During World War II, the Hakims produced only The Southerner, a lean picture of sharecropper life, co-produced with David Loew. Renoir's film, which is unlike anything else the brothers ever backed, has all the marks of a project engineered by Hollywood to keep distinguished emigrés afloat.

The Hakims remained in America after the war but, of their three productions, only The Long Night, a remake of Marcel Carné's 1939 Le Jour se lève, with Henry Fonda replacing Jean Gabin, is notable, while the limp comedy Heartbeat effectively ended the Hollywood career of Jean-Pierre Aumont. The youngest Hakim, Andre, remained in America, where he married into the Zanuck family and became a producer for 20th Century-Fox, but in 1950, Robert and Raymond returned to France.

They financed Duvivier's Pot-bouille and the two films that launched Simone Signoret as a star, Becker's Casque d'or and Carné's Thérèse Raquin. However, intellectually out of sympathy with the nouvelle vague (and, moreover, committed to the cinéma du papa that most young directors reviled), the Hakims failed to imitate fellow independent producers Pierre Braunberger and Georges de Beauregard in backing the New Wave. Their only productions with the younger directors were Chabrol's Les Bonnes Femmes and his upper-class whodunit, A double tour. The latter, also known as Web of Passion and advertised with the graphic of a keyhole framing Bernadette Lafont in bikini underwear, was among the New Wave's first international commercial successes.

Throughout the 1960s, the Hakims seldom deviated from the style of film successful for them in the 1930s: star-driven melodramas with plenty of sex, and an international market built in. The recipe that launched Simone Signoret in Casque d'or proved equally serviceable for Alain Delon in René Clément's Plein Soleil, Roger Vadim's remake of La Ronde, Luis Buñuel's Belle de jour and Karel Reisz's Isadora. All shrewdly exploited the European cinema's reputation for sophisticated sensuality without surrendering totally to the mass market.

The Hakims's methods were not always popular. Attempting to make a BBC TV film on Isadora Duncan, Ken Russell found every available biography and memoir of the dancer bought up by the brothers to protect their 1969 production The Loves of Isadora. (Director Karel Reisz himself became disaffected when his film was shorn of 37 minutes for its U.S. release.) At the same time, François Truffaut, negotiating with the Hakims to film Cornell Woolrich's Mississippi Mermaid, quickly became deadlocked with them over casting. Truffaut wanted Jean-Paul Belmondo opposite Catherine Deneuve, but the brothers preferred Alan Bates or Alain Delon. After breaking off the deal, Truffaut discovered that the story rights belonged, not to the Hakims at all, but to 20th Century-Fox, from whom he purchased them to make La Sirene du Mississippi, with Belmondo and Deneuve. Such charges, however, should be weighed alongside the Hakims's impressive record. By putting their skills to work on behalf of great directors, they managed to make high-quality, bankable films.

—John Baxter