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From the Hitchcock of France, a final farewell: 'Inspector Bellamy'

December 7, 2010 |  2:55 pm


Claude Chabrol, one of the founding fathers of the French New Wave cinema of the late 1950s along with Francois Truffaut, Eric Rohmer and Jean-Luc Godard, died in September at 80. But the prolific director known as the Alfred Hitchcock of France left a Christmas present for fans: his 50th film, “Inspector Bellamy,” which opens Friday.

The mystery thriller stars Gerard Depardieu as a famous Parisian detective who can’t stop sleuthing even when he’s on vacation. The film, released last year in France, is Depardieu’s only movie with Chabrol.

Chabrol’s films were stylish, suspense-filled and often erotic thrillers such as “Le Boucher,” “La Femme Infidele,” “Violette” and “La Ceremonie.”  Like the other creators of the New Wave, Chabrol began his career as critic working with the influential Cahiers du Cinema magazine. In 1955, he and Truffaut interviewed Hitchcock while he was making “To Catch a Thief.”

The two young men, so enthralled by meeting their idol, actually fell into a fountain during the interview. Years later, Hitchcock told Truffaut that he thought of them as “two ice cubes floating in his drink.”

In 1957, Chabrol and Rohmer penned a book on Hitchcock. Around the same time, a family inheritance allowed Chabrol to form his own production company and he wrote and directed his first feature, “Le Beau Serge.”

He made some 25 films with his second wife, actress Stephane Audran.  In fact, most of Chabrol’s films were family affairs, and “Inspector Bellamy” is no different. His son Matthieu, who started composing for Chabrol’s films in the 1980s, provided the flamboyant score, and the filmmaker’s third wife, Aurore Chabrol, was the script supervisor, a role she played on his films since 1968. Her daughter, Cecile Maistre, was the assistant director of “Inspector Bellamy” and several of her stepfather’s other films.

-- Susan King

Photo: Clovis Cornillac as Jacques Lebas and Gerard Depardieu as Paul Bellamy in "Inspector Bellamy." Credit: Moune Jamet / IFC Films

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