Alain Delon in America

February 21, 2018

While he may be best known for his work in arthouse classics like L'Eclisse, Plein Soleil, and Le Samouraï, Alain Delon also flirted with mainstream Hollywood stardom in the 60's and 70's. Although the effort was ultimately unsuccessful, there are a handful of English-language films that showcase Alain's talents and, lucky for us, they are all readily available! For anyone who wants to get into his work but isn't quite ready for subtitles, or if you're just interested in discovering some of his lesser-known movies, I'm sharing the full roster here in this post, along with links to the films. They may not be on the same level as Rocco and His Brothers but they're all solid, enjoyable movies and -- considering how few there are -- they really showcase Alain Delon's considerable range as an actor.

Alain Delon's first foray into English language films was the UK production The Yellow Rolls Royce. An anthology film with three distinct plots, Alain Delon features in the middle third of the movie alongside Shirley MacLaine. In what would become a recurring theme among his English movies, the French Alain Delon plays an Italian.

Gangster's moll Shirley MacLaine is stuck in Italy while her mobster boyfriend, George C. Scott, is tending to business in the US. Alain plays an Italian photographer who sweet-talks lady tourists into having their photo taken in front of popular landmarks. When he tries his act on Shirley MacLaine, she is having none of it at first, but I mean, come on. It's Alain Delon. Was there ever any doubt she'd end up falling for him? Who wouldn't!

This ends up being a surprisingly bittersweet story and -- even if my favorite actor wasn't in it -- it's my favorite of the three segments in the movie. It comically takes place in the 1920's, with the filmmakers haphazardly deciding to stay true to the era's style one moment (ie. Alain Delon's one piece swimsuit) and then casting aside all period detail the next (ie. Shirley MacLaine's hair.) But Alain Delon and Shirley MacLaine make such a perfect cinematic pair that it's hardly noticeable. I wish they had made more films together -- or even a full-length one, at that!

The Yellow Rolls Royce on DVD
The Yellow Rolls Royce streaming on Amazon

Once a Thief marks Alain Delon's second English-language movie and his first Hollywood production. Co-starring Ann Margaret, Once a Thief is a modern take on the Les Miserables story. Alain Delon plays a reformed Italian hoodlum who is incessantly hounded by a cop, played by Van Heflin, who is convinced that Delon is the one who shot him years ago. All of his attempts at leading a quiet crime-free life are foiled by Heflin's determination to see him locked up, and the return of Delon's no-good brother, Jack Palance (Alain Delon's sole competition for the "most defined cheekbones of the 1960's" award.)

This is a heavy, harsh movie shot on location in San Francisco. Although it was released in 1965, it reminds me so much of 1940's and 50's crime dramas filmed on location in New York, like The Naked City (1948.) It has a kind of raw energy to it, and for Alain's first "polished" Hollywood movie, the only things that glisten about it are the sweaty foreheads and wet sidewalks.

Once a Thief on DVD
Once a Thief streaming on YouTube

After Once a Thief, Alain Delon's next movie was Lost Command, an Anthony Quinn war movie about the conflict in Algeria. Considering the fact that I'm not a big fan of war movies and Alain Delon isn't technically the star here, it's my least favorite of his American output. But, putting those two personal preferences aside, it is a very well made movie and I'd definitely recommend it if you enjoy war movies. And if you're like me and prefer your films with as few army maneuvers as possible, there are plenty of scenes featuring the soldiers at home or socializing in Algeria. And Alain Delon strikes up a brief romance with Claudia Cardinale, reuniting three years after they costarred in Visconti's epic The Leopard. In a strange twist, Alain Delon is finally playing a Frenchman here but his Italian costar suffers the "Europeans can pass for any nationality in American films" fate, and is cast as an Arab.

Very unscholarly side note: Despite my lack of enthusiasm for this movie or for war films in general, I have returned to it numerous times because Alain Delon looks pretty darn good. Exhibit A.

Lost Command on DVD

I am so excited to tell you about this next one. When I first started devouring Alain Delon's filmography and stumbled upon a 1966 western spoof co-starring Dean Martin and Joey Bishop I had to do a double take. What. On. Earth. Is. This.

It's a delight is what it is! An unexpected delight.

Alain Delon plays a (Spanish this time!) nobleman who's betrothed to a wealthy Louisiana woman, but ends up on the lam heading for the Texas border when he thinks he killed her former lover in a duel on their wedding day. Along his journey he runs into Dean Martin and Joey Bishop, and a random bull fight, snake bites, wife-swapping, a very funny duel, and lots of hi-jinx ensue.

The most surprising thing to come out of this movie is Alain Delon's comedic talent. While there is evidence of it in some of his very early roles, like Three Murderesses and Che gioia vivere, it's largely absent from the entirety of his acting career. But he's downright funny in this movie. His character is clearly meant to be a suave charmer, but he's also a total doofus. And he doesn't play it up so much that it becomes irritating -- he hits the sweet spot of "over the top" without actually bubbling over.

Texas Across the River on DVD

After Texas Across the River, Alain Delon went back to Paris and didn't make another American film again for seven years, returning to US screens with the 1973 spy thriller Scorpio. Scorpio reunited him with another one of his The Leopard co-stars, Burt Lancaster. This time around they are playing an assassin and a government agent, caught up in a web of cold war intrigue.

As much as I enjoy Alain's earlier American movies, I feel like Hollywood just wasn't really sure what to do with him. That indecisiveness helped showcase Delon's range (comedy! western! melodrama! war! romance!) but in Scorpio he's allowed to hone the tough-guy image he had, by this point, already established in France. This would be his penultimate American movie and I think it's a darn shame because with Scorpio they finally found the type of movie and the type of role that suited him perfectly. 1970's American cinema was chock-full of spy/crime thrillers that could have benefited from his intense, cool screen presence.

The real selling point of Scorpio, though, is the fact that Alain Delon's character is an assassin with a soft spot for cats. I shared gifs of some of my favorite Scorpio scenes of Delon + cats right here.

Scorpio on DVD
Scorpio streaming on Amazon

Alain Delon's final American movie was The Concorde: Airport '79. This is one of the few Alain Delon movies that I have yet to watch (mainly because I'm not sure if you need to have seen the other Airplane movies in order to get it, and I haven't seen any of them -- any advice on that subject would be greatly appreciated!) This was the final entry in the Airport movie series, and sadly also marked the end of Alain Delon's short career in Hollywood.

The Concorde: Airport '79 on DVD
The Concorde: Airport '79 streaming on Amazon

In addition to his six English language movies, Alain Delon also did his own dubbing for many of his French films. Technically you can almost count Joy House as his first English movie, since he dubbed it himself and co-starred with American actress Jane Fonda! You can also hear him in the English dub of Farewell Friend.

I should add that my DVD copies of Red Sun (1971) and Zorro (1975) are both in English, but it's unclear to me which language they were originally filmed in. I think they are both coproductions so it's possible that multiple languages were spoken on set. I consulted the book "Alain Delon: Style, Stardom, and Masculinity" for this post and these two films are not included in their chapter on Delon's English language movies so I'm going to refrain from including them in this post. But if you're just looking to watch some Alain Delon without subtitles, those are two more titles that you can seek out! :)

Black Friday Sale!

November 24, 2017

My Black Friday sale is going on now through Monday night! Use code "MISTLETOE" to get 25% off any order of $15+. Plus get free worldwide shipping on all orders of $20+

I have a TON of classic movie related items in my shop, including lapel pins, patches, button sets, pocket mirrors, Christmas cards, and art prints. You can find all of it right here, or you can also view my personal recommendations in my classic film gift guide right here.

Happy Birthday, Alain Delon!

November 08, 2017

Today is Alain Delon's birthday! I've planned a few things to celebrate, starting with a brand new tribute video! This one took me WAY longer than any other one I've ever worked on. Normally I knock them out in 1-2 sittings but I've been fiddling with this one for about two months, adding clips and replacing clips here and there until I thought it was perfect. It's VERY fangirly but I think that just makes it more fun to watch. I hope you enjoy it! :)

I also rounded up a list of a bunch of Alain Delon movies currently streaming online in the US. I can't vouch for how long these movies will be available (for instance, the FilmStruck ones have been on the service since July so they may be expiring soon) but if you want to celebrate his birthday tonight, here are some movies you can stream instantly:

Filmstruck | YouTube

Filmstruck | Amazon | YouTube

Filmstruck | Amazon | YouTube

Filmstruck | Amazon | YouTube

Filmstruck | YouTube

Filmstruck | Amazon

Filmstruck | Amazon

Filmstruck | YouTube | Watch TCM (until 11/13)




Amazon | YouTube




Amazon | YouTube


YouTube (no subs)

Amazon | YouTube

Amazon | YouTube



YouTube (no subs)

YouTube (no subs)






YouTube (no subs)

YouTube (no subs)

There might be some that I'm missing (and I don't have Fandor or Mubi accounts to check those sites) but I think that's a decent amount to start with! :) And if you're not already following me on twitter, be sure to drop in today to see my day-long salute to one of my favorite stars! I have lots of images, gifs, and movie recommendations scheduled throughout the day. You can follow me @kategabrielle.

Happy Delonday!

Tobe Hooper and Poltergeist (1982)

October 26, 2017

Today I have a special guest post from my friend Ana Roland, who wrote an in depth, fascinating report about Tobe Hooper's work on the 1982 film Poltergeist. The movie is airing on TCM at 6PM EST on Halloween. I personally haven't seen the film yet, but now I'm looking forward to watching it with this production backstory in mind! - Kate

"Just don't ask me about Poltergeist..." ~Tobe Hooper

"Poltergeist is what I fear and E.T. is what I love" ~Steven Spielberg

In Memoriam: Tobe Hooper known for his sweet, gentle Texas reserve died of natural causes on August 26 of this year at the age of 74.

William Tobe Hooper born on Jan. 25, 1943, in Austin, Texas is best known for turning the horror genre upside-down and influencing future generations of horror directors. He conjured some truly shattering, unforgettable moments in film that are still enduring. Among his most recognized films are low-budget cult classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which has a print stored in the Library of Congress and Poltergeist, a box office hit, which received three Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound Effects Editing. Fun fact, Poltergeist was beaten in all three categories by E.T., which was of course directed by Steven Spielberg. Nothing like beating yourself!

What I didn't know before, but while researching for this post I discovered, is there was a controversy over whether Hooper or writer/producer Steven Spielberg directed Poltergeist. The rumors were so rampant even before the film was released that the Directors Guild of America did open an investigation. Spielberg insisted that Hooper deserved sole credit on the film. The Hollywood Reporter printed an open letter from Spielberg to Hooper in the week of the film's release. "Regrettably, some of the press has misunderstood the rather unique, creative relationship, which you and I shared throughout the making of Poltergeist." Author Warren Buckland wrote an in-depth study on Spielberg's technique and choices in his book "Directed by Steven Spielberg." He comes to the conclusion that in the aggregate Poltergeist is very much a Tobe Hooper film. John Kenneth Muir did something similar for Tobe Hooper in his book, "Eaten Alive at a Chainsaw Massacre" and he reached the same conclusion

Some backstory on this controversy. Spielberg always had an eye for talent and was eager to mentor young directors. Spielberg hired Tobe Hooper after being impressed with his film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974.) Spielberg offered "Night Skies," a script written by John Sayles which would later evolve to become E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to Tobe Hooper, but Hooper felt the alien aspect wasn't really his thing, telling Spielberg he'd like to do a ghost story instead. Hooper claims to have pitched Spielberg on an idea he had been developing off and on for the past few years at Universal. According to Hooper, initially he worked with William Friedkin (The Exorcist) to try to get Universal interested in the project. Hooper and Spielberg collaborated by mail on a treatment while Spielberg was shooting "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Spielberg wanted Stephen King to write the script but King claims he asked too much money because he didn't want to be the hired help.

Poltergeist was Tobe’s first studio movie. Spielberg is a consummate filmmaker and was a very hands-on producer. E.T. and Poltergeist were filmed in the same neighborhood at the same time. Both films were made to complement each other. E.T. represented suburban dreams, and Poltergeist represented suburban nightmares. Hooper submitted his cut of the film, he withdrew from the production and Spielberg finished the post-production (editing, music and effects.) Time and Newsweek tagged the summer of 1982 "The Spielberg Summer" because E.T. and Poltergeist were released a week apart in June.

There is no doubt it must have been daunting for Tobe to direct with Spielberg (a film he wanted to make) at the height of his popularity. My belief is that Spielberg would have never taken the film as far in the horror and violence, not wishing to alienate his core audience. The MPAA initially gave Poltergeist an R rating. Spielberg lobbied the MPAA board stating that he made PG movies not R ones, and successfully got it changed. This film collaboration has haunted Hooper's film legacy, although they did work together again on other projects.

Thanks for the scares Tobe. One of the highlights of his life was receiving the Texas Hall of Fame Award which honors those who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of the Texas film industry.

I am providing a link to one of Tobe’s early panels at the Austin Film festival, THE SCARE TACTIC: THE DYNAMICS OF HORROR WRITING, which he spoke on with fellow horror master Wes Craven in 1996. It is available here On Story show and podcast:

Poltergeist airs on TCM October 31 6PM (EST) HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Donna Lamour's Hollywood Take @donnalamour on twitter

New classic movie Christmas card designs!

October 23, 2017

My 2017 Christmas card designs are now available in my shop! I had a ton of fun making these this year! I haven't sent cards myself for the last couple of years but I think I might have to start again this Christmas, just so I can mail some "Clark! the herald angels sing" cards. That pun is cracking me up SO much!

You can find all of my new cards (and my old designs, too!) in my shop right here.

La veuve Couderc (1971)

August 25, 2017

For the Journeys in Classic Film 2017 Summer Under the Stars Blogathon, I decided to write a bit about La veuve Courderc, a quiet French drama starring Alain Delon and TCM's star of the day Simone Signoret.

La veuve Courderc begins with a mustached Alain Delon wandering into town, just as Simone Signoret is attempting to carry her heavy egg incubator to her farmhouse down the road. Signoret is "La veuve" --or the widow-- of the title. She lives with her grumpy (and, if the subtitles on my copy are an accurate translation, abusive) father-in-law, and just across the river from her judgmental sister-in-law. When she takes on Delon's mysterious drifter as a hired hand on her farm, it stirs up trouble with the sister-in-law and her young attractive daughter, played by Ottavia Piccolo.

That might all seem like a pretty soapy plot but overall it's actually a very soft, slow-paced movie with nuanced, sensitive performances. Delon plays a very Delon-like character -- enigmatic, morally ambiguous, and quiet yet volatile. Even when he finally shares his secretive backstory you're still not entirely positive that he's telling the truth. And when the widow takes a liking to him, you're never quite sure if his reciprocated feelings are genuine.

While Delon is -- unsurprisingly -- my favorite part of the movie, Simone Signoret does most of the heavy lifting here. The events of the movie may be set into motion when Delon arrives in town, but his role is mostly that of an object of desire and an enigma that nobody can quite figure out. Signoret bears the brunt of the town gossip, and she endures the heartbreak when the drifter favors her young niece over her, even telling her to her face that he preferred the niece because of her youth. The film really tries to play up the age difference (in real life Signoret was 50 while Delon was 36) with Signoret's graying hair, matronly nightgowns, and world weary composure; juxtaposed against her mischievous, spirited niece exposing her chest to breastfeed her infant in front of an attentive Delon.

Signoret may be playing up the age with her appearance, but inwardly her performance is that of a lovestruck teenager. She is glowing and giddy when he pays her attention, but she is quick to turn to vindictive acts of jealousy or get snippy with him when she suspects he's playing around with her niece. She embodies the role so well, fluctuating between girlish emotions while still somehow maintaining that cool, unflappable Signoret veneer. It's kind of like she's playing the hardened city girl with a soft center, just transposed to a French countryside setting. It's brilliant.

Finally, let's circle back to that mustache and ask the question on everyone's mind: "Is that mustache really necessary?"

I don't think it's necessary to his face, but it's probably necessary to the movie. He shaves it off about halfway in, the timing coinciding with his piqued interest in the niece. I'm not exactly disturbed by its presence during the first 45 minutes but I'm always happy to see it go ;)

Unfortunately this movie only seems to be available in DVD boxsets, most of which are region 2. It's available in this Alain Delon boxset which is a little pricey but I highly recommend it if you're a fan of his work. It contains a few other movies that are difficult to find in America and it's region 1 so it will play in American DVD players!