Wednesday, July 11, 2007

EDW: Oskar Werner

Continuing, in a somewhat haphazard fashion with last week's nouvelle vague theme, here's another one of the European actors who made this very French movement so special. (Hell, even the Brits can claim some credit for it: there's Julie Christie and, erm, Jeanne Moreau was half-English).

However, it's her co-star in Jules et Jim that interests me today. Oskar Werner has a wonderfully expressive melancholy and grace that suits the film perfectly. The same applies to the Austrian's other celebrated roles – in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Farenheit 451.

And, while Jeanne Moreau is the film's focus, and often gets the plaudits for moments such as this), Werner's performance is equally memorable – 'vous êtes gentil, Jules', quite. (The same applies for Henri Serre - here's the three of them together).

Sadly, Werner's career pretty much collapsed after Farenheit 451. He had a huge falling out with Truffaut and started drinking like an out-of-work actor. But for his acting and, as this montage shows, the fact that whether dressed as an Hapsburg officer, a spy or even in his decline he was never less than elegant.

PS: checking this bio from the usually reliable IMDB I found this: His career, however, was almost immediately interrupted by World War II. An avowed pacifist and fervent despiser of the Nazi regime, Werner was eventually forced to wear the Axis army uniform but finagled his way into KP [kitchen patrol, I think] duty feigning incompetence. Moreover, he married Elizabeth Kallina, a half-Jewish actress, which further endangered his life. Their daughter, Elinore, was born in 1944. The young family spent much of their time hiding out in the Vienna Woods from both the Russians and Germans after the city was shelled.



Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Inspired choice.

I blame that film for introducing me to the pleasure of seeing two men simultaneously. And the thing she does with that cigarette - wicked.


10:54 am  
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