French filmmaker developed classic style

Classic French filmmaker Jean Delannoy, who adapted novels by Victor Hugo and Andre Gide and won the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize in 1946, died June 18 in Guainville, near Paris. He was 100.

Many of Delannoy’s films, starring actors including Jean Gabin, Jean Marais and Michele Morgan, were French box office successes in the 1940s and 1950s.

But Delannoy’s classic style went out of fashion in the 1960s, when he was derided by the more avant-garde New Wave filmmakers, including Francois Truffaut. The New Wave dubbed his movies “le cinema de papa.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised Delannoy for “devoting his life, with success, to his passion for art.”

“More than just a great artist, he was a man of great intelligence, alert, pertinent and faithful in friendship,” Sarkozy said in a statement.

Culture Minister Christine Albanel said Delannoy represented the “pure classic French style: a mix of refinement and depth inherited from his long companionship with literature.”

Working with a script by Jean Cocteau, Delannoy revisited the Tristan and Isolde legend in 1943’s “L’Eternel Retour” (Eternal Return.)

His 1946 film “La Symphonie Pastorale,” adapted from a Gide novel, won Cannes’ top prize. The film told the story of a blind orphan who falls in love with a married pastor.

Another of his films was “Notre Dame de Paris” (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), an adaptation of Hugo’s novel starring Gina Lollobrigida and Anthony Quinn.

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