A critical and box office debacle, Claude Lelouch’s new film leads to drastic measures
Quite a bit (to put it mildly) less successful than Alien vs. Predator, Exorcist: The Beginning, and Resident Evil: Apocalypse – or just about any other movie out there. That has been the fate of veteran Claude Lelouch’s new film: The Parisians/ Le genre humain - 1ère partie: Les Parisiens (literally, “The Human Race - 1st Part: The Parisians”).
“For years and years the critics have attacked my films, and for years and years the public has come to my rescue,” the Bolero and A Man and a Woman recently affirmed, explaining why he has offered to show The Parisians free of charge.
Massacred by French critics, The Parisians – unlike widely ridiculed fare like the three English-language titles mentioned further up – lured a mere 16,653 ticket-buyers to the cinéma on opening night, Sept. 15. The film stars Mathilde Seigner (Emmanuelle Seigner’s sister), Maïwenn, and Arielle Dombasle.
From one filmmaking veteran to another: Don’t do it
“I advise Lelouch against doing this. When a film is a flop, you can’t do much about it,” chimed in Lelouch’s contemporaneous filmmaker Philippe de Broca (That Man from Rio, The Man from Acapulco), speaking from experience.
Almost four decades ago, de Broca held free screenings of his poorly received 1966 fantasy King of Hearts / Le Roi de Coeur – to no avail, despite a cast that included Alan Bates, Geneviève Bujold, Micheline Presle, Jean-Claude Brialy, Michel Serrault, and Adolfo Celi.
Coincidentally, Lelouch’s biggest international hit, the romantic drama A Man and a Woman / Un homme et une femme, was released the same year as King of Hearts, which, ironically, is now considered a classic in some quarters.
So perhaps there’s hope for The Parisians sometime in the 2040s.
It should be noted that Claude Lelouch took home the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award (shared with Les Parisiens co-writer Pierre Uytterhoeven) for A Man and a Woman – one of the rare non-English-language releases to have won an Oscar in the writing categories.
Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Best Actress nominee Anouk Aimée, A Man and a Woman also earned Lelouch a Best Director nod. He lost to Fred Zinnemann for that year’s Best Picture, the period drama A Man for All Seasons.
In addition, A Man and a Woman won both the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or.
Leonardo DiCaprio as a 1930s gangster?
From Claude Lelouch’s new film to Michael Mann’s new film project: Mann’s planned Depression Era-set adaptation of Bryan Burrough’s nonfiction bestseller Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 will trace the transformation of the FBI into the United States’ federal police force – a narrative previously covered in Mervyn LeRoy’s The FBI Story (1959), starring James Stewart and Vera Miles, and based on a book by journalist Don Whitehead.
According to Variety, Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nominee Leonardo DiCaprio (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, 1993) has been pegged as one of the film’s stars, though it remains unclear on which side of the legal fence he’ll stand.
Among potential criminals for DiCaprio to play are John Dillinger (Lawrence Tierney in 1945, Warren Oates in 1973), Baby Face Nelson (Mickey Rooney in 1957, C. Thomas Howell in 1996), and Pretty Boy Floyd (John Ericson in 1960, Martin Sheen in 1974 on TV).
As an aside, Public Enemies is unrelated to William A. Wellman’s 1931 classic The Public Enemy, starring James Cagney and Edward Woods as gangsters, and featuring Joan Blondell, Jean Harlow, and grapefruit victim Mae Clarke in supporting roles.
Leonardo DiCaprio as a 1930s billionaire
Leonardo DiCaprio’s most recent star vehicle, the Martin Scorsese-directed Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator, is slated for a December 2004 release in the United States.
In the film, the Titanic star plays the eccentric (i.e., unbalanced) billionaire and sometime film producer (Hell’s Angels, The Outlaw), alongside Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn, Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow, Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner, Jude Law as Errol Flynn, Kelli Garner as Faith Domergue, Alan Alda as right-wing Republican Senator Owen Brewster, and Alec Baldwin as airline entrepreneur Juan Trippe.
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Image of Maïwenn in Claude Lelouch’s new film The Parisians: Les Films 13.
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator image: Miramax Films / Warner Bros.
“Claude Lelouch’s New Film Leads to Desperate Box Office Measures + 1930s Gangster Leonardo DiCaprio?” last updated in December 2019.