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Marchal to helm Vidal gang pic

'Les Lyonnais" chronicles French mobster's reign

Gallic helmer Olivier Marchal (“36 Quai des Orfevres”) is set to direct “Les Lyonnais,” a biopic about Edmond Vidal, the charismatic leader of the Lyonnais’ gang.

Pic centers on Vidal’s life from his early years at the helm of the clan in the ’60’s and ’70s, though the bulk of the action takes place today. Vidal is a 70-year-old retired mobster whose quiet existence gets turned upside down when an old friend seeks his help to escape from prison.

Alain Delon will topline, along with Gerard Lanvin (“Secrets of State”) and Bernard Giraudeau (“A Matter of Taste”).

Marchal, who’s just wrapped the script with writing partner Edgar Marie, said the film’s first part is based on Vidal’s unpublished memoirs, while the second part is purely fictional.

Paris-based company LGM and French minimajor Gaumont are producing. Gaumont will handle domestic distribution.

The film will enter pre-production in the coming weeks. Lensing will take place this summer in Lyon for an early 2011 delivery.

LGM is considering making the film a dyptique like Jean Francois RIchet’s “Public Enemy Number One.”

Marchal last penned and directed crime series “Braquo,” a French twist on “The Shield,” which aired on Canal Plus in the fall and broke the channel’s records for a French fiction drama.

A former agent from the French crime-fighting unit, Marchal has dedicated his film-directing career to cop thrillers, including Daniel Auteuil starrer “36 Quai des Orfevres.”

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