September 6, 2021 marked the passing of one of international cinema’s greatest leading men, Jean-Paul Belmondo. This February-April, we pay due homage to the tough, sometimes tender, and always irresistible Belmondo with three of his very best starring roles, beginning with the French New Wave movie that made him a superstar, Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. After a few years as a go-to leading man for other, now-canonized New Wave movies and directors of the 1960s, Belmondo switched to mainstream European entertainments in the 70s and 80s, in particular comedies and action vehicles like our second selection, The Hunter Will Get You (L'alpagueur), where the brave actor frequently performed his own hair-raising stunts. Belmondo returned, in 1974, to work for another nouvelle vague legend, Alain Resnais, in the nostalgic con artist bio-pic Stavisky.
- Fri., Feb. 4 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Godard’s breakthrough first feature, from a scenario by François Truffaut, is the Parisian love story between a small-time hood (Belmondo) and an American woman (Seberg). This masterpiece of the nouvelle vague is sometimes a love letter to classic Hollywood cinema and sometimes a challenge to it. A recently restored 4K DCP will be screened.
- Sat., Mar. 12 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
More recognized in the U.S. for his contributions to the nouvelle vague and French arthouse cinema, Belmondo became an international superstar in the 70s and 80s with a series of action vehicles where the actor developed a tough guy persona as riveting and charismatic as Steve McQueen’s or Clint Eastwood’s. Here, Belmondo plays a mercenary bounty hunter on the trail of a bank robber/serial killer (a fantastically sinister Cremer). The excellent, pulse-pounding score is by Michel Colombier.
- Sat., Apr. 23 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
From money laundering to influence-peddling, casino gambling to dabbling in controversial politics, the life of Serge Alexandre (Belmondo), aka Stavisky, reveals the making and unmaking of the theatrically charming con man in turn-of-the-century France. Belmondo’s only collaboration with nouvelle vague hero Resnais also features a rare original score from Stephen Sondheim!