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Philippe Noiret: ‘Cinema Paradiso’ & ‘Il Postino’ Actor

Philippe Noiret Cinema Paradiso actor
Philippe Noiret.

Philippe Noiret: ‘Cinema Paradiso’ & ‘The Postman’ actor dead at 76

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Veteran actor Philippe Noiret, whose movie credits include Cinema Paradiso, The Postman, and the controversial Blow-Out, died of cancer earlier today, Nov. 23. Noiret (born on Oct. 1, 1930, in Lille, in northern France) was 76.

A trained stage actor, Philippe Noiret began appearing in films in bit parts in the early 1950s. Eventually, his nearly six-decade big-screen career was to encompass approximately 130 movies in a variety of genres, from fluffy comedies and period dramas to heavy-duty political allegories.

Philippe Noiret movies

Philippe Noiret’s film career really took off in 1960, after he made a name for himself in a supporting role as Catherine Demongeot’s unhappy uncle Gabriel in Louis Malle’s comedy Zazie on the metro / Zazie dans le métro. From then on, each year Noiret would be generally featured in multiple films.

He was a police inspector in Jean Delannoy’s Rendezvous / Le rendez-vous (1961); Thérèse Desqueyroux’s husband in George Franju’s Therese / Thérèse Desqueyroux (1962), starring Emmanuelle Riva in the title role; King Louis XIII in veteran Abel Gance’s Cyrano et d’Artagnan (1964), with Jean-Pierre Cassel as D’Artagnan and José Ferrer reprising his Oscar-winning role as Cyrano de Bergerac; and Noiret was one of several French actors (among them Jacques Dufilho, Claude Dauphin, Marcel Dalio, and Michel Piccoli) supporting Paul Newman, Sophia Loren, and David Niven in Peter Ustinov’s Lady L (1965).

Later on, Philippe Noiret would be featured in movies for the likes of Anatole Litvak (The Night of the Generals), Alfred Hitchcock (Topaz), George Cukor (Justine), Peter Yates (Murphy’s War), Edouard Molinaro (Sweet Deception / La Mandarine), Henri Verneuil (The Serpent / Le Serpent), and Bertrand Tavernier (The Clockmaker of St. Paul / L’horloger de Saint-Paul and other efforts).

Philippe Noiret: ‘Cinema Paradiso’ and ‘The Postman’

Internationally, among Philippe Noiret’s best-known film roles are his middle-aged glutton in Marco Ferreri’s anarchic sociopolitical comedy Blow-Out / La Grande bouffe (1973), which was banned in a number of countries; and his wimpy-turned-monstrous cop in Bertrand Tavernier’s anti-colonialist comedy-drama Coup de Torchon (1981), co-starring Isabelle Huppert and Stéphane Audran. Additionally, Noiret had supporting roles in Ettore Scola’s well-regarded The Family / La Famiglia (1987), starring Vittorio Gassman and Fanny Ardant; and Bertrand Tavernier’s jazz homage ‘Round Midnight (1986), with François Cluzet and Dexter Gordon. Both Coup de Torchon and The Family were shortlisted for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.

But surely, at least outside of France, Philippe Noiret is best remembered as the fatherly film projectionist in Giuseppe Tornatore’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner and worldwide hit Cinema Paradiso (1988) and as the exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in Michael Radford’s equally popular Best Picture Oscar nominee The Postman / Il Postino (1994), starring Massimo Troisi in the title role.

“What’s difficult is not doing something,” Philippe Noiret once remarked about his métier. “It’s redoing it.”

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