French actresses are like forbidden treasures to younger film buffs. They are the exact opposite of their American counterparts. The difference were especially pronounced in times of the bygone era. Whereas the American actresses were children, the French weren’t afraid of anything, They could laugh, cry, or any emotion upon request. They were not only a young boy’s dream, because many of them would, at some point, appear nude in a film, but a young wannabe director’s fancy because not only did they take their clothes but they could act , too.
So, we here at LBJBR present the hundred French actresses you should know. They are in no particular order, much less one of importance. As a warning, this article is probably not safe for work viewing. Viewer discretion is advised.
Born October 22 1943
If Isabelle Huppert has a good claim on the title on Queen of Cinema, Catherine Deneuve’s claim for the crown is just as good. Unlike Huppert, Deneuve, who co-starred with Huppert in Francois Ozon’s 2002 film 8 1/2 Women, Deneuve has made longer and more successful forays into English language films, despite her very thick French accent. Deneuve’s biggest English film would find her in a co-starring role, and a lesbian kiss with a half naked. A box office success, the film co-starred David Bowie and was directed by director Ridley Scott’s deceased brother Tony Scott.
Previous to The Hunger, Deneuve would appear opposite Burt Reynolds in legendary director Robert Aldrich’s 1975 Heat. Two years later, she would be apart of an all star cast in the British war drama March or Die, lead by the inimitable Gene Hackman.
However, the choice pick among her English language films would have to be the 1965 Roman Polanski film Repulsion. It a claustrophobic psychological horror film that it would be understating it to say that it is a minor masterpiece. Deneuve’s thick accent and lack of English understanding compounds the terror her character experiences.
In her home country, Catherine Deneuve’s ascension to the top was more gradual. None of her early efforts really distinguishing her or giving one a peek at her ability until the aforementioned Repulsion in 1965. Two years later, Deneuve would appear in Luis Bunuel’s attempted poetic(?) ode to S & M Belle du Jour. However famous and liked the film may be, it isn’t one of Bunuel’s better films. Catherine Deneuve floats through it and ultimately the film doesn’t live up to hype.
She would next link up with New Wave director Francois Truffaut and actor Jean Paul Belmondo for the film Mississippi Mermaid. On paper, the film sounds like a masterpiece but it never really develops into that. It isn’t a bad film but it never becomes what your high expectations expect it to become. One example is when Deneuve and Belmondo’s characters are stopped by the side of the road and Deneuve takes off her top for no reason. A car passes, sees a topless Deneuve…
Catherine Deneuve’s body of work speaks for itself. She has worked with quite a few of the most famous directors actors over her six decades of work. Not afraid to test her limits, she hasn’t shied away from the obligatory nude scenes either, even appearing topless in the 1999 Leo Caraxs’s directed film Pola X.