Pioneering producer

Christine Gouze-Renal, doyenne of French film and TV production, died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, outside Paris, on Oct. 25. She was 87.

France’s first woman producer, Gouze-Renal launched Brigitte Bardot and made some 50 movies in a prolific career spanning half a century.

She was equally known for being the wife of French TV’s “Navarro,” the actor Roger Hanin, and the sister-in-law of the late president Francois Mitterrand. (Her younger sister, Danielle, married Mitterrand during WWII.)

The daughter of academics who hailed from the town of Cluny, Gouze-Renal joined the Film Dept. (the precursor to today’s Centre National de la Cinematographie) in 1942.

She began producing in 1955, forming her own company, Progefi (phonetic spelling of “projet fille”). Its first movie that year was “La Mariee est trop belle,” a vehicle for the then-unknown Brigitte Bardot, who went on to star in a series of other movies Gouze-Renal produced including “La Femme et le pantin” by Julien Duvivier and Louis Malle’s “Vie Privee.”

She met her husband while producing the “Tigre” film series.

Gouze-Renal switched to television producing in the late 1970s, by which time the electronic medium had seriously eroded cinema attendance in France.

Her television credits include the series “Claudine” based on Colette, as well as small screen adaptations of Guy de Maupassant, Balzac and Dino Buzatti.

She was proud of the TV movie “La Confusion des Sentiments,” based on Stefan Zweig, which went on to a theatrical career after being watched by a record 12 million TV viewers on France 3.

In 1985, Gouze-Renal received a Cesar d’Honneur, French equivalent of an Oscar for lifetime achievement, and went on working for more than another decade and a half.

Her last TV movie, the Arielle Dombasle starrer “Les Faux Fuyants,” beat the hit reality show “Loft Story” in the ratings.

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