You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Philippe De Broca

French film director Philippe de Broca, whose offbeat 1966 anti-war comedy “King of Hearts” enjoyed years of American arthouse play after failing to engage French audiences, died November 26 of cancer.

The director of over 30 features was 71.

De Broca, who was born in Paris, celebrated his 71st birthday on the set of his final film, the children’s-themed costumer “Viper in the Fist.”

But he was too ill to promote the October 6 release which has passed the 1 million admissions mark.

The son of an industrialist descended from the minor nobility, Philippe de Broca de Ferrussac infused all his films with a sense of fun and adventure, opting for irreverence and insouciance whenever possible.

An able technician who studied photography and trained as a cinematographer at the Ecole Louis Lumiere, De Broca started out with New Wave pals Francois Truffaut (as assistant director on “The 400 Blows”) and Claude Chabrol but concluded the New Wave approach was, by and large, “too intellectual” for his taste, going so far as to say the films bored him.

Having served as an Army cameraman for three years during the Algerian conflict, he preferred “joyous” entertainment as an antidote to the horrors and institutional censorship of war. De Broca made two charmingly laid-back romps with Jean-Pierre Cassel in 1959 and 1960 before applying his prodigious energy — colleagues compared his vitality on set to the springiness on display in Tex Avery cartoons — to a broader canvas.

The success in 1962 of “Cartouche” starring Belmondo as a bandit with elan, led to a series of big budget comedies in which the ever-athletic actor did his own stunts. “That Man from Rio” (1964) sold nearly 5 million tickets in France and put the helmer on the international map.

Other hits with Belmondo included “Les Tribulations d’un Chinois en Chine” (1965), and “Le Magnifique” (1973), a parody of spy pics.

Although WWI-set Franco-British co-production “King of Hearts,” in which Alan Bates arrives in a French town whose only inhabitants hail from the local insane asylum, sold a mere 142,000 tickets in Gaul, it became an arthouse favorite in the U.S., where it was inevitably paired with “Harold and Maude” in repertory theaters.

De Broca re-attained popular success two years later with 1968’s “Devil by the Tail” starring Yves Montand.

De Broca made competent, invariably amusing programmers throughout the ’70s and ’80s, and rarely let a year go by without directing a made-for-TV movie, with 1994’s “Le Jardin des plantes” a sentimental favorite. In 1982 he paired Philippe Noiret and Catherine Deneuve in “The African,” a solid hit in hardtops. De Broca leapt back to international prominence in 1997 with “Le Bossu” (“On Guard!”) a swashbuckling tale of revenge starring Daniel Auteuil and Vincent Perez.

He is survived by a wife and two children.

— Lisa Nesselson

More Scene

  • Atmosphere91st Annual Academy Awards, Governors Ball

    Inside the 2019 Oscar Parties

    Stars party all around Hollywood before, during, and after the Oscars. Here, Variety hits the town to give you the inside scoop on all the star-studded soirées. Keep checking back throughout the weekend for the latest updates… Impact Awards Gala Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills, Feb. 22 Photographers and videographers clamored near the doorways of the [...]

  • Speaker of the United States House

    Nancy Pelosi, Ava DuVernay Honored at VH1 Trailblazers Event

    Cher is feeling a little better about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. “When I see Trump spew his hate and tell his gazillion lies, I get pissed off and feel uneasy at the same time,” the Oscar winner and frequent Trump critic said Wednesday while introducing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at VH1 Trailblazers [...]

  • Karl Lagerfeld'Lagerfeld Confidential' Photocall at the

    Karl Lagerfeld Remembered at Costume Designers Guild Awards

    The death of fashion and costume designer Karl Lagerfeld cast somewhat of a shadow over the usually jubilant Costume Designers Guild Awards — the only award show where clothes literally steal the spotlight away from actors — which was held at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday night. Here it was obvious that Lagerfeld’s impact on [...]

  • Kate Bosworth'Nona' film premiere, New York,

    Kate Bosworth Helps Launch Campaign for Female Filmmakers

    In her 20-year career in Hollywood, Kate Bosworth has starred in blockbusters like “Superman Returns” as well as indie darlings like 2014’s “Still Alice.” But the actress has always had a desire to get more involved from the ground up. Now, she is partnering with Women In Film and Chloe Wine Collection to launch the [...]

  • Amandla Stenberg and Sofia CarsonVanity Fair

    Oscar Week Kicks Off With Vanity Fair's New Hollywood Party

    The night was definitely still young Tuesday at Vanity Fair’s New Hollywood party in Los Angeles. The magazine kicked off Oscar week with a party — the first of its three-event Campaign Hollywood series — at Ysabel in West Hollywood to celebrate new and emerging talent. Co-hosted by Yalitza Aparicio, Henry Golding and Amandla Stenberg [...]

  • Oscars Ultimate Party Guide

    Oscars Ultimate Party Guide 2019

    Welcome to Oscar week. It’s the time of year when Hollywood’s film industry celebrates all things movies. But it’s certainly not just the big show everyone is looking forward to. With voting closed, it’s all about the parties now. Who’s doing what and where and when are they doing it are the questions everyone is [...]

  • Yalitza AparicioTeen Vogue Young Hollywood Party,

    'Roma' Star Yalitza Aparicio, 'Central Park Five's' Jharrel Jerome Sound Off on Trump

    Yalitza Aparicio recently reunited with Alfonso Cuarón, who directed her in “Roma,” for a W magazine photo project that featured her standing at various barriers built at the border between Mexico and the United States. The message? “You can make a name for yourself despite the differences,” Aparicio told Variety on Friday at Teen Vogue’s Young [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content