Danièle Delorme: Rare Woman Director's Muse & Pioneering Producer

Danièle Delorme woman director muse and female movie producerDanièle Delorme: Pioneering woman director Jacqueline Audry's muse would eventually become a pioneering female movie producer.

Remembering pioneering woman director's muse and pioneering woman producer Danièle Delorme

Danièle Delorme, who died on Oct. 17, '15, at the age of 89 in Paris, is best remembered as the first actress to incarnate Colette's teenage courtesan-to-be Gigi and for playing Jean Rochefort's about-to-be-cuckolded wife in the international box office hit Pardon Mon Affaire.

Yet few are aware that Delorme was featured in nearly 60 films – three of which, including Gigi, directed by France's pioneering woman filmmaker Jacqueline Audry, that country's sole major female director in the post-World War II years. Additionally, Delorme was seen in more than 20 stage plays and a dozen television productions in a show business career spanning seven decades.

Even fewer realize that Danièle Delorme was also a pioneering woman producer, working in that capacity for more than half a century. Or that she was what in French is called a femme engagée – a woman actively involved in social and political issues.

This article is a fully revised and expanded version of a post first published at the time of Delorme's death. The text offers a brief career overview of one of cinema's remarkable – and shamefully underrated – talents of the 20th century.

Music and museums

Danièle Delorme was born Gabrielle Danièle Marguerite Andrée Girard in Levallois-Perret, a commune (or district) in the outskirts of Paris, on Oct. 9, 1926. Her father was painter, caricaturist, poster illustrator, and theater set designer André Girard;[1] her mother was Andrée Jouan, one of the first women to gain entry into Sciences Po Paris (the Paris Institute of Political Studies).

While growing up, the arts played a crucial role in the lives of Gabrielle Danièle and her three sisters in the family's apartment at 55 Boulevard de Clichy, in the vicinity of the Moulin Rouge. Besides the company of her father's friends – e.g., filmmaker Claude Autant-Lara, actor Michel Simon, guitarist/composer Django Reinhardt, entertainer Josephine Baker – there were frequent visits to museums and art galleries, in addition to piano training at the Conservatoire de Musique.

Danièle Delorme discusses (in French) 'Gigi' 1949 and why actors aren't always seen in good movies.

Teen Resistance member

But Gabrielle Danièle's hopes – or rather, her father's hopes that his daughter would become a concert pianist – were dashed with the outbreak of World War II in Sept. 1939. By the time the Nazis marched into Paris in June 1940, André Girard had fled with his family to Cap d'Antibes on the French Riviera. There, he founded the anti-German, anti-communist, anti-collaborationist, and anti-Gaullist underground network known as Carte.

In Feb. 1943, Girard relocated to the United Kingdom. Two months later, his wife was arrested by the Gestapo and deported to the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

As found in Delorme's book of memoirs, Demain, tout commence (“Tomorrow, It All Begins”), 16-year-old Gabrielle Danièle was captured and beaten by the Gestapo. “It's weird,” she thought at the time. “It's like Felix the Cat, when they hit him on the head. You see small black bars, each one topped by a star.”

Following her movie-like escape – the interrogators had left the door to her cell unlocked – she reportedly found refuge with actor Pierre Brasseur (Eyes Without a Face) and later with poet/screenwriter Jacques Prévert (Children of Paradise). Eventually, she returned to Paris.

Marc Allégret

From a young age, Gabrielle Danièle had considered becoming an actress. After her arrival on the French Riviera, she began training with acting coach and Resistance member Jean Wall, later joining the troupe of actor Claude Dauphin (Le Plaisir, Barbarella) in Cannes. At that time, she also met and fell in love with a thoughtful, liberal-minded young actor not quite 20 years old: future French film icon Gérard Philipe (Devil in the Flesh, Les liaisons dangereuses).

Her film debut took place in 1942. As Danièle Girard, she was featured in a small role in La belle aventure, starring Claude Dauphin, Micheline Presle, and Louis Jourdan. The romantic comedy was directed by former André Gide protégé and lover Marc Allégret – possibly French cinema's top starmaker and by then a veteran with nearly 30 movies to his credit (e.g., Heart of Paris, Storm).

As it happened, the young actress joined a long list of performers – among them Simone Simon, Michèle Morgan, Odette Joyeux, Pierre Fresnay, Raimu, and first love Gérard Philipe – discovered and/or developed by Allégret.

The year after La belle aventure, he selected Danièle Girard for the key role of Vinca Ferret – opposite Gérard Philipe as her love/lust interest, Phil – in a planned film version of Colette's risqué 1923 novel Le blé en herbe, a tale of passion, sexual awakening, and jealousy set on the coast of Brittany. Financing, however, fell through.[2]

Danièle Delorme Gerard Philipe Bernard Blier in Les Petites du quai aux fleursDanièle Delorme, Bernard Blier (center) and Gérard Philipe in 'Les petites du quai aux fleurs.'

Not to be deterred, Allégret would cast the soon-to-be-renamed Danièle Delorme in minor roles in three other films:

  • Les petites du quai aux fleurs (1944), toplining Odette Joyeux, Bernard Blier, André Lefaur, and Louis Jourdan, and featuring Gérard Philipe in a small role and Daniel Gélin, Delorme's husband-to-be, in an uncredited bit.
  • Twilight / Félicie Nanteuil (1944), starring the three leads of La belle aventure: Claude Dauphin, Micheline Presle, and Louis Jourdan.
  • Lunegarde (1946), starring Gaby Morlay, Jean Tissier, and Giselle Pascal.

A courtesan named Delorme

As explained in Demain, tout commence, during the making of Les petites du quai aux fleurs at the Victorine studios in Nice – in the same part of the country where she had become persona non grata – Bernard Blier suggested that Danièle Richard change her surname so the Gestapo wouldn't make the connection between the budding film actress and Carte leader André Girard.

One of the film's sets was a bookstore, which had a copy of a book on the well-connected, 17th-century Parisian courtesan (i.e., high-class sex worker) Marion Delorme. Thus, from then on Danièle Richard would be known as Danièle Delorme.[3]

The new Danièle Delorme: Left-wing views, pregnancy and marriage

In the wake of the armistice, Danièle Delorme, once again back in Paris, enrolled in the renowned acting schools of Tania Balachova and René Simon. Both her parents – her mother, quite unexpectedly – were also back in France. The family reunion, however, was less than idyllic.

“I'd become very left-wing and that angered [my father] quite a bit,” Delorme would recall for Thomas Rabino in the magazine Histoire(s) de la Dernière Guerre (1939–1945, au Jour le Jour). “Worse yet, I learned to live my life the way I wanted, which angered him even more. I was in love with Daniel Gélin; I was pregnant and that scandalized him.”

Delorme and Gérard Philipe had parted ways for some time. She had met Daniel Gélin – who enjoyed talking about her “ardent nostrils” – through a mutual friend, Simone Signoret.

Much to André Girard's dismay, Delorme, 19, and Gélin, 25, were married on May 25, 1946. Nearly one month later, on June 21, their son, Xavier, was born.

Gigi movie Daniele Delorme Frank Villard in version of scandalous Colette novella'Gigi' 1949 movie with Danièle Delorme and Frank Villard: First big-screen version of 'scandalous' Colette novella.

Extraordinary career opportunities

In a filmed interview in the late '50s (or possibly early '60s), Delorme would say that she had two “extraordinary opportunities” at the beginning of her career.

The first consisted of seven years “without anyone noticing me and without anyone judging me” while she honed her acting skills. (Never mind the fact that Marc Allégret had definitely noticed her.)

The second was when filmmaker Jacqueline Audry, the only commercially successful woman director in post-war French cinema,[4] offered her the title role in Gigi, thus turning Delorme into French cinema's girl-woman successor to Simone Simon and predecessor of Brigitte Bardot.

'Gigi' 1949: First movie version of notorious Colette novella

Based on Colette's “scandalous” 1945 novella, Gigi (1949) starred Danièle Delorme as a 15-year-old Parisian being trained by her grandmother (Yvonne de Bray) and great-aunt (Gaby Morlay) – both firm believers in traditional family values (their family's, that is) – to become a more modest version of Marion Delorme. Shockingly, the rebellious young woman opts instead for married life with reformed roué Gaston (Frank Villard).

As Delorme recalled, Gigi was a “golden role” that was offered her at the right moment, as by the time the film was shot in 1948 she “was more in control of my abilities,” adding that “any actress – I'm not being modest when I say this – would have been a hit in such a role.”[5]

Maybe not any actress, but with her – in Colette's words – “funny little face,” Delorme was indeed a major success.

Although hardly a fan of the film – Gigi “cannot hold a candle to the brightest French comedies, but it gives light” – the New York Times' Bosley Crowther singled out the titular star as a “winsome” screen presence.

In the Parisian daily Le Monde, Henri Magnan was quite a bit more enthusiastic, declaring that “with her mint-flavored voice, and priceless, thick-lipped pout, Danièle Delorme is one of the most assured hopes of French cinema. Our female Gérard Philipe.”

Daniele Delorme Minne l'ingenue Libertine sexually alluring heroine of another Colette storyDanièle Delorme in 'Minne' a.k.a. 'Minne, l'ingénue libertine': Naive libertine and sexually alluring heroine of another Colette story.

Woman director's muse: Danièle Delorme-Jacqueline Audry-Colette trilogy

Jacqueline Audry must have felt equally enthusiastic about Danièle Delorme, as twice more she would reteam with her Gigi star – a collaboration between a woman director and an actress that was quite possibly unique anywhere in the world back then and that remains a rarity to this day.

In both instances, Delorme was cast as Colette heroines reminiscent of the nymphet-ish Gigi. [6]

  • Set at the turn of the 20th century, Minne / Minne, l'ingénue libertine (“Minne, the Naive Libertine,” 1950) starred Delorme as the sexually frustrated young wife of a fatherly husband (Gigi leading man Frank Villard). She's unable to give herself freely to him – until, that is, she learns the joys of “making love” with other men.
  • Commenting on the censored U.S. release, Bosley Crowther remarked, “Mlle. Delorme is charming and provocative in a fresh and impudent way as the wife who allows her quaint frustration to lead her slightly astray.” (She goes more than “slightly astray” in the original French version.)

    In the U.K., Minne was the first release to be slapped with the British Board of Film Classification's newly created X certificate (no one under 16 allowed).

  • Mitsou ou Comment l'esprit vient aux filles… (“Mitsou, or How Girls Become Sensible,” 1956) featured Delorme as Mitsou, a chorus girl in love with a handsome lieutenant (François Guérin) from a good family. The attraction is mutual, but class and education disparities become an issue. A distraught Mitsou opens her heart to an older friend and protector (Fernand Gravey), who then selflessly teaches her how to act the part of a sophisticated woman.

More Danièle Delorme movies

“Every actor would like to make a movie with Charles Chaplin or René Clair,” Danièle Delorme explains in the filmed interview (ca. 1960) embedded further below, adding that oftentimes it wasn't up to them to decide with whom they would get to work.

Yet, although frequently beyond her control, Delorme managed to collaborate with a number of major (mostly French) filmmakers throughout her six-decade movie career.

Aside from her Jacqueline Audry films, below are a few of Delorme's most notable efforts – usually playing naive-looking young women of modest means and deceptively inconspicuous sexuality, whose inner character may or may not match their external appearance.

Daniele Delorme Jean Gabin Deadlier Than the Male Sweet-looking and cold-blooded femme fataleDanièle Delorme and Jean Gabin in 'Deadlier Than the Male': Sweet-looking and cold-blooded femme fatale.

Alain Resnais' lost film

Ouvert pour cause d'inventaire (“Open for Inventory Reasons,” 1946), an unreleased, no-budget comedy notable as Hiroshima Mon Amour filmmaker Alain Resnais' first feature. Also in the cast: Pierre Trabaud and Michel Auclair, in addition to Delorme's husband Daniel Gélin and former lover Gérard Philipe in supporting roles.

According to online sources, Ouvert pour cause d'inventaire is a lost film.[7]

Women's prison movies

Long before Édouard Molinaro's drag queen comedy and international box office hit La Cage aux Folles, there was Maurice Cloche's Cage of Girls / La cage aux filles (1949), a socially conscious drama featuring counselor Suzanne Flon as the guiding light in the life of juvenile delinquent Delorme.

Nine years later, the Cloche-Delorme duo would strike again with Women's Prison / Prisons de femmes (1958), one of several international '50s melodramas about the lives of women behind bars.[8]

'Miquette' not by Colette

Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot (better known for his thrillers The Wages of Fear and Diabolique), the comedy Miquette / Miquette et sa mère (1950) starred Delorme in the title role: a stagestruck young woman who, though in love with clumsy Bourvil, runs away with scheming older man Saturnin Fabre to join ham actor Louis Jouvet's traveling troupe in Paris. Mireille Perrey was cast as Miquette's mère (mother).

Gaston Arman de Cavaillet and Robert de Flers wrote the play on which Miquette was based.

'Tempi nostri'

In the episode “Mara,” Alessandro Blasetti and Paul Paviot's omnibus comedy The Anatomy of Love / Tempi nostri (1954) features Delorme as the titular character, a young woman who spends the night with teacher Yves Montand.

Financial circumstances make Mara consider working at a local brothel, but the teacher attempts to convince her to come live with him instead.

Sweet young murderess

Taking a different route than that of Barbara Stanwyck and Lana Turner, the hard-edged stars of, respectively, Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity and Tay Garnett's The Postman Always Rings Twice, Danièle Delorme plays a sweet-looking young thing out to – quite literally – destroy the life of her much older husband, restaurant owner Jean Gabin, in Julien Duvivier's Deadlier Than the Male / Voici le temps des assassins (1956). Gérard Blain is Delorme's young, handsome lover.

“Magnificently restored,” wrote Le Monde's Thomas Sotinel on the occasion of her death, “the film, presented at Lyon's Lumière Film Festival, gave an idea of the actress that was Danièle Delorme.”

Danièle Delorme French blockbuster Les Misérables bigger than Jurassic World Star Wars ETDanièle Delorme was featured in French blockbuster 'Les Misérables': Bigger than 'Jurassic World,' 'Star Wars' and 'E.T.'

French box office hit bigger than 'Star Wars' and 'E.T.'

In Jean-Paul Le Chanois' Les Misérables (1958) Delorme was cast as the doomed orphan Fantine (played by Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Anne Hathaway in Tom Hooper's 2011 musical). Jean Gabin brought to life Jean Valjean, relentlessly pursued by Bernard Blier's Javert.

With 9.94 million admissions, this version of Les Misérables remains one of the top 30 post-war box office hits in France – ahead of Doctor Zhivago, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Finding Nemo, Skyfall, Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Jurassic World, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Les Misérables 1958 is also the 12th biggest domestic French-made post-war hit.

Oscar-nominated film

After 1958, Danièle Delorme made only sporadic film appearances (22 in all, from 1961–2001), focusing instead on stage work and the production side of filmmaking.

  • In Raoul Coutard's Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award nominee Hoa-Binh (1970), she was featured in a supporting role as a French nurse working in war-ravaged Vietnam. Hoa-Binh also won the Best First Film prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
  • Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant as a bank robber and child kidnapper, Claude Lelouch's highly stylized thriller The Crook / Le voyou (1970) interwove past and present events long before Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and Alejandro González Iñárritu's 21 Grams.
  • Although unimpressed with the film itself – “The Crook suggests nothing so much as a hard-edged A Man and a Woman, with analogous self-indulgence, misdirected visual rhetoric and inexpressive stylistic excesses” – the New York Times' Roger Greenspun singled out for praise both Christine Lelouch and Danièle Delorme, commending the latter for her performance “as an aging career girl who is at first forced to harbor the crook, and then finds herself valuing his company.”

  • In the populist farce and international box office hit Pardon Mon Affaire / Un éléphant ça trompe énormément (1976), Jean Rochefort stars as a middle-aged married man infatuated with the younger Anny Duperey. His buddies, as unwilling to grow up as he is, are Victor Lanoux, Guy Bedos, and Claude Brasseur (as a closeted gay man). Danièle Delorme, then 50, was cast in what amounts to a decorative role, as Rochefort's elegant and still youthful wife.
  • Pardon Mon Affaire was directed and co-written by Yves Robert, Delorme's husband at the time. Its sequel, Pardon Mon Affaire, Too! / Nous irons tous au paradis (1977), was also directed and co-written by Robert, and featured much of the original film's cast.[9]

Daniele Delorme Pardon Mon Affaire Jean Rochefort International box office hit later remade in HollywoodDanièle Delorme in 'Pardon Mon Affaire,' with Jean Rochefort: International box office hit later remade in Hollywood.

Last movies: Family affairs

Danièle Delorme's final feature film was Fall Out / Sortez des rangs (1996), directed by Yves Robert's son from a previous marriage, Jean-Denis Robert, and produced by Delorme herself. She was cast in a small role in this little-seen post-World War I drama of revenge adapted by the younger Robert and Jérôme Tonnerre from Jean Amila's novel The Butcher of Hurlus.

Delorme was last featured in front of the camera in the 2001 short La vie sans secret de Walter Nions (“The Secret-less Life of Walter Nions”), a family affair directed by her grandson, Hugo Gélin, and featuring her granddaughter Sarah Gélin, her Pardon Mon Affaire co-star Jean Rochefort, his son Julien Rochefort, and Jean-Pierre Cassel's daughter Cécile Cassel.

Stage work: Acclaimed leprosy victim

On stage, Danièle Delorme initially worked with Raymond Rouleau, who directed her in J.B. Priestley's Dangerous Corner, and Jacques Deval, who wrote and directed Mademoiselle in 1946.

Later on, despite severe stage fright, she starred in plays by Aldous Huxley (The Gioconda Smile, 1949), Henrik Ibsen (A Doll's House, 1952), Luigi Pirandello (As You Desire Me, 1960), George Bernard Shaw (Saint Joan, 1964), Albert Camus (Les Justes, 1966), and Jean Cocteau (Les Parents Terribles, 1992), among others.

As the saintly leprosy victim Violaine in a 1961 revival of Paul Claudel's The Tidings Brought to Mary (1961), she received particularly enthusiastic praise.

Daniele Delorme as Gigi creator Colette in Jacques Demy La naissance du jourDanièle Delorme plays 'Gigi' creator Colette in 'La naissance du jour': Television movie directed by veteran Jacques Demy.

Television: Becoming Colette

On television, Danièle Delorme was featured in about a dozen TV movies – e.g., Joannick Desclers' Une femme dans la ville (1979), opposite Michel Peyrelon and Michel Robin; Bernard Stora's La grande dune (1991), with Bulle Ogier and Niels Arestrup.

Additionally, a couple of the plays in which she had starred on stage were transferred to the small screen.

  • Claude Loursais' A Doll's House (1954), with Delorme as Nora, opposite Gérard Oury as her husband, Torwald. (And featuring in a small role 7-year-old Patrick Dewaere, a top 1970s French cinema star.)
  • The Daniel Georgeot-directed TV adaptation of Paul Valéry's Mon Faust (“My Faust”, 1970), with veteran Pierre Fresnay as Faust, Pierre Dux as Mephisto, and Delorme as Lust. She had twice been featured in Mon Faust on the Paris stage: in 1962 (Théâtre de l'Œuvre) and in 1971 (Théâtre de la Michodière), both times under the direction of Pierre Franck.

But Delorme's most notable made-for-TV role was probably that of Colette – the author whose work had made her a star in the post-war years.

Directed by Jacques Demy (Lola, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) from Colette's own semi-autobiographical 1928 Saint-Tropez-set novel, La naissance du jour (“Daybreak,” 1980), revolves around the author's relationship with a much younger neighbor (Jean Sorel), whom she decides is a better fit for a young painter (Dominique Sanda).[10]

And finally, Delorme had a sporadic recurring role as school principal Valentine Rougon – a role written specifically for her – in the series Madame le proviseur (1994), also featuring former husband Daniel Gélin.

“Remembering pioneering woman director's muse and pioneering woman producer Danièle Delorme” to be continued.

Danièle Delorme woman director muse in Gigi movie post-World War II trilogyDanièle Delorme in the 1949 movie version of 'Gigi': Woman director Jacqueline Audry's muse in post-World War II trilogy.

'Danièle Delorme: Pioneering woman director's muse and pioneering woman producer' notes

[1] Multitasker André Girard co-wrote with Jean Renoir La chienne (lit., “The Bitch,” 1931), directed by Renoir and starring Michel Simon, Janie Marèse (in the title role), and Georges Flamant. The psychological crime drama was based on the novel by Georges de La Fouchardière and the play by André Mouézy-Éon.

La chienne would be remade in Hollywood in 1945. Directed by Fritz Lang, Scarlet Street starred Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, and Dan Duryea.

Additionally, André Girard wrote the “story” that became Jean Mamy's Baleydier / Baleydier, Grande Vedette (1932), toplining Michel Simon and Josseline Gaël. Jacques Prévert was reportedly responsible for the adaptation and dialogue.

Girard's father had died at the beginning of World War I, a fact that would color his view of Germany in the ensuing decades. According to Delorme herself, “Germany represented everything that he hated.”

'Le blé en herbe', matching initials

[2] Claude Autant-Lara would finally bring The Game of Love / Le blé en herbe to the screen in 1954. Edwige Feuillère, Nicole Berger (in the role Marc Allégret intended for Danièle Delorme), and Pierre-Michel Beck starred.

A 1990 made-for-TV version was directed by Serge Meynard, and starred Isabelle Carré, Sophie Aubry, and Matthieu Rozé.

[3] Bernard Blier also told Danièle Richard that the matching initials in the name Danièle Delorme “would bring good luck.”

For whatever reason, French cinema performers whose artistic names featured matching initials were not uncommon back in those days, especially among actresses. Besides Bernard Blier himself and Danièle Delorme, there were Danielle Darrieux, Michèle Morgan, Simone Simon, Simone Signoret, Raymond Rouleau, Gabriel Gabrio, and, not long afterwards, Brigitte Bardot and Anouk Aimée.

Noël-Noël – and decades later Miou-Miou – were extreme cases.

Pioneering French women filmmakers

[4] Getting her start in French cinema in the early 1900s, Alice Guy (later Alice Guy-Blaché) was a world cinema pioneer (Reformation, The Pit and the Pendulum). In France, this woman director was followed by Germaine Dulac (The Smiling Madame Beudet, Heart of an Actress) in the 1920s.

Besides Jacqueline Audry, also working during the post-war years were Andrée Feix and documentary filmmaker Nicole Vedrès – though neither was nearly as prolific as Audry.

Best known as a film editor (Black Orpheus, A Savage Summer), Andrée Feix directed only two features, both comedies:

  • Once Is Enough / Il suffit d'une fois (1946), with Edwige Feuillère as a sculptress whose husband (Fernand Gravey) is jealous of a nonexistent lover named Nicolas. The murder of a man named Nicolas further complicates matters.
  • Captain Blomet / Capitaine Blomet (1947), with Fernand Gravey in the title role as a man who, following the death of his wife, discovers that she had been unfaithful. Gaby Sylvia co-starred.

Nicole Vedrès directed three documentaries:

  • Paris 1900 (1947), narrated by Claude Dauphin, and featuring archive footage of Maurice Chevalier, Sarah Bernhardt, Nellie Melba, Mistinguett, and Cécile Sorel, among others.
  • Life Begins Tomorrow / La vie commence demain (1950), featuring Jean-Pierre Aumont as the Man of Today, wondering about the world of tomorrow. The documentary also features André Gide, Pablo Picasso, Jean Rostand, Le Corbusier, Jean-Paul Sartre, and several others.
  • The scientifically themed Aux frontières de l'homme (1953), co-directed with Jean Rostand.
Danièle Delorme Colette heroine must come to terms with sex and class in MitsouDanièle Delorme in the 1956 Jacqueline Audry film 'Mitsou': Another Colette heroine must come to terms with the issues of sex and class.

'Gigi' reboots and stage adaptations

[5] MGM's glitzy, glossy, glamorous 1958 Oscar-winning musical Gigi was directed by Vincente Minnelli. Leslie Caron starred in the old Danièle Delorme role, with Hermione Gingold as the grandmother, Isabel Jeans as the great-aunt, La belle aventure and Les petites du quai aux fleurs actor Louis Jourdan as Gaston, and veteran Maurice Chevalier as Honoré (played by Jean Tissier in the 1949 film).

Prior to Leslie Caron, Colette discovery Audrey Hepburn starred as Gigi in the 1951 Broadway production adapted by Anita Loos and directed by Raymond Rouleau. Also in the cast: Josephine Brown, Cathleen Nesbitt, and Michael Evans.

A 1973 Broadway adaptation of the MGM musical starred Karin Wolfe as Gigi, in addition to Agnes Moorehead, Daniel Massey, Maria Karnilova, and Alfred Drake.

A 2015 Gigi revival toplined Vanessa Hudgens, Victoria Clark, Corey Cott, Dee Hoty, and Howard McGillin.

Early woman director Jacqueline Audry

[6] Besides Gigi, Minne, and Mitsou, Jacqueline Audry's other films included:

  • The drama The Pit of Loneliness / Olivia (1951), set in a girls' finishing school and dealing with lesbian desire. In the cast: Edwige Feuillère, Simon Simon, and Marie-Claire Olivia. Danièle Delorme is supposed to have a cameo in the film.
  • An adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre's nightmarish No Exit / Huis-Clos (1954), with Arletty (as the lesbian Inès Serrano), Frank Villard (as the low-life Joseph Garcin), and Gaby Sylvia (as a murderess and the object of both Inès' and Joseph's desire).
  • The comedy School for Coquettes / L'école des cocottes (1958), starring Dany Robin, Fernand Gravey, and Bernard Blier.

In all, Jacqueline Audry directed 16 films. She died at age 68 in a car accident in the Parisian suburb of Poissy on June 22, 1977.

Movies with Gérard Philipe and Daniel Gélin

[7] In 1950, Danièle Delorme would work opposite Gérard Philipe in Christian-Jaque's omnibus drama Lost Souvenirs / Souvenirs perdus, in the episode “Une cravate de fourrure / A Fur Tie.”

Delorme and Daniel Gélin would share the screen (or at the very least, be seen in the same movie/TV series) several times, most notably in The Long Teeth / Les dents longues (1953), a psychological family drama directed by Gélin himself.

Women's prison movies

[8] John Cromwell's Caged (1950), starring Best Actress Oscar nominee Eleanor Parker, began the international cycle of women's prison movies.

Others in the genre include:

  • Miguel M. Delgado's Cárcel de mujeres (“Women's Prison,” 1951), with Miroslava, Sara Montiel, and Katy Jurado.
  • Lewis Seiler's Women's Prison (1955), with Ida Lupino and Jan Sterling.
  • Renato Castellani's Hell in the City / …And the Wild Wild Women / Nella città l'inferno (1959), with Anna Magnani and Giulietta Masina.

Cage of Girls was only partly set in a women's prison.

'The Woman in Red'

[9] The 1984 Hollywood remake of Pardon Mon Affaire, The Woman in Red, starred Gene Wilder – who also directed – in the old Jean Rochefort role.

Judith Ivey was the wife, Kelly LeBrock the object of his affection, and Charles Grodin the gay buddy.

'La naissance du jour'

[10] Also in the cast of La naissance du jour: veteran Orane Demazis, as Colette's mother, Sido.

Demazis was Marcel Pagnol's companion and the leading lady in several of his most important plays and movies, including, as Fanny, the 1930s film trilogy Marius, Fanny, and César.


Key sources: Atelier An.Girard, Marianne, Philippe Dulac's article on Le naissance du jour found in the Encyclopædia Universalis.

Image of Frank Villard and Danièle Delorme in woman director Jacqueline Audry's Gigi 1949 via Atélier An.Girard, which also features a mini Delorme biography and a list of her film and stage appearances, with images.

Image of Bernard Blier, Gérard Philipe, and Danièle Delorme in Les petites du quai aux fleurs via the BDFCI (French Internet Film Database.)

Danièle Delorme Minne screengrab via the blog kebekmac.

Image of Danièle Delorme in Mitsou ou Comment l'esprit vient aux filles…: Ardennes Films.

Danièle Delorme and Jacques Demy on the set of Le naissance du jour via AlloCine.

Jean Rochefort and Danièle Delorme Pardon Mon Affaire image: Gaumont International.

Jean Gabin and Danièle Delorme Deadlier Than the Male image: Pathé Consortium Cinéma, via Télérama.

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2 Comments to Danièle Delorme: Rare Woman Director's Muse & Pioneering Producer

  1. Catherine Lartigue

    I came across your post while doing some research for a blog post. Daniele was my husband's aunt and for years, I stayed with her every time I visited Paris. You have no idea how this post, along with the video made me feel. I miss her so much, she was generous to a fault and she was so much fun to be with. Hearing her young voice is the same one she had when I last spent time with her.
    You have given me tears, but nice ones because not a day goes by that I don't think of her.
    Thank you.

  2. Helene D'Angibes

    Thank you for writing this beautiful hommage to a favorite actress from mine childhood! Incredible woman. I like sexy photo with Frank Villard, he and her have sexy pose.