As you reach middle age, actors, singers and other artist whose work you’ve followed start to die. Most recently it was Philippe Noiret’s turn. His peephole closed last Thursday. Noiret debuted on the screen in 1956 in La Pointe Courte by Agnès Varda, but was not cast again until 1960 in Zazie dans le métro. After that, he became a regular on the French screen, without being cast in major roles untill the late 1960s. Noiret first came to my attention in 1984, in the French film Les Ripoux (English title: My New Partner). A story about a veteran cop who sees his habits disrupted by his new partner. (co-written by real internal police officer Simon Michaël) My first unconscious exposure to Noiret must have been the famous 1969 heist movie Topaz which our father encouraged us to see in the early seventies. I recently saw him perform in the 1969 art-agit film Mr. Freedom by William Klein and Zazie (his performance was superb).
He shone in such films as Coup de Torchon, the 1981 French film adaptation of Jim Thompson’s 1964 novel Pop. 1280, directed by Bertrand Tavernier; in the legendary La Grande Bouffe (1973) by Italian director Marco Ferreri; and perhaps most of all in one of my all time favourite films: Life and Nothing But (1989), again directed by Bertrand Tavernier where Noiret turns in an unforgettable performance as a French Army Officer given the thankless task of uncovering the identity of all the dead of the post World War One battlefields (and falls in love with the character of Catherine Deneuve in the process).
He also starred in two feelgood films of the late eighties and early nineties: Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (of minor interest because of its the famous ‘kissing scenes‘ montage near the end of the film) and the sentimental comedy Il Postino (the story of real-life Chilean poet Pablo Neruda ).