Alain Delon, the French star of legendary beauty, and an icon of charm and sensuality, will receive the Golden Palm for Lifetime Achievement at the seventy-second edition of the Cannes Film Festival 2019 (14-25 May).
Alain’s rebellious character and his portrayal on screen was largely shaped by a difficult childhood, and the tumultuous choices of his working life. He was born the son of a small owner of a cinema in the French province and his mother was a pharmacist. At the age of 4, he was placed in foster care after his parents’ divorce. And, at 17, he was expelled from all French schools and became a sailor and was sent to Indochina. While serving, he ended up in the penalty boxes due to indiscipline and misconduct. All of these experiences, created the complex character of Alain Delon.
In 1953 he returned to Paris and lived a bohemian lifestyle jumping from one job to another, until his glacial beauty was noticed by director Jean Claude Brialy who invited him to Cannes to promote Alain as a new face for French cinema. He made his debut in 57 with Godot and in 1960 he made himself known within the circles of French cinema, interpreting the Mephistophelian Tom Ripley in Plein Soleil (Purple Noon) by René Clément.
His fame crossed the French borders arriving in Italy, where the great Luchino Visconti offered him the role of the protagonist in Rocco and His Brothers. This tragic story of five Lucanian immigrant brothers in Milan and Rocco’s love for a young prostitute and Visconti’s film shocked the audience, became an intriguing scandal amongst the Catholic society in Italy and consecrated Alain as a force in Italian cinema. Alain returned to work with Visconti for The Leopard, winner of the Golden Palm in Cannes in 1963 and the film earned Alain a Golden Globe nomination.
Also in 1963, Alain performed in Melodie en Sous Sol (Any Number Can Win), his first Polar film, a genre halfway between noir and detective. His career is full of films that have made history in the world of cinema. Working with high caliber directors such as Godard, Antonioni, Malle, Melville, and Deray.
In 2017 Alain Delon announced his retirement. Talking about why he decided to retire, Alain said “I don’t see with whom else I could make a film with. The directors I could shoot with have died. They should propose a story where I go crazy.”
One regret mentioned by Alain was that he never had the opportunity to be directed by a woman. Ironically because as he adds: “I started doing this work thanks to women. It’s women that inspired me to make movies. It was women who wanted me, made me, gave me everything. Women who fell in love with me. They were at least six or seven years older than me. And then, in the eyes of these women, I wanted to see that I was the most beautiful, the greatest, the strongest and for this I became an actor “.
This Palm is a well-deserved tribute to Delon’s magnificent presence in the history of cinema and one which makes Thierry Fremaux extremely happy. The director of the festival states: “Pierre Lescure (President of the festival) and I are delighted that Alain Delon has accepted to be honored by the Festival thought he should only like to celebrate the directors he had been working with. “
Here is a list of some of the films to which Delon has given masterly interpretations.
Plein soleil (1960)
Rocco and his brothers (1960)
The Leopard (1963)
Joy House (1964)
Le samouraï (1969)
Spirits of the dead (1968)
La piscine (1969)
The Sicilian Clan (1969)
Le Cercle Rouge (1970 )
Indian Summer (1972)
Mr. Klein (1976)
Swann in love (1984)
Nouvelle Vague (1990)