Louis Malle - Rotten Tomatoes

Louis Malle



One of France's most renowned directors, Louis Malle first gained recognition as a member of his country's New Wave movement of the 1950s. He went on to direct films of great breadth and variety, consciously avoiding the temptation to repeat himself. Many of Malle's films tended to be very personal affairs that focused on some form of societal exclusion, and on more than one occasion he rejected opportunities to work in Hollywood so as to have more time to lavish greater attention on his individual projects. His efforts paid off: By the time of his death from cancer in 1995, Malle was hailed for his invaluable contributions to both French and world cinema.



Born into great wealth, Malle had the advantages of an expensive college education, which started in the study of Political Science but ended up with filmmaking classes. A protégé of underwater photographer/director Jacques-Yves Cousteau, he received his first director's credit on Cousteau's The Silent World (1956), which served to introduce both men to the international film scene. After working as an assistant to cult-favorite director Robert Bresson, Malle made his first solo film, the award-winning Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud/Frantic (1957), a mystery-melodrama in the Diabolique mold and distinguished by an improvisational Miles Davis music score and powerful performance by Jeanne Moreau.



With Les Amants/The Lovers (1959), Malle gained notoriety for staging what were then considered graphic sex scenes, pushing the boundaries of American censorship. Fortunately, the film's underlying message -- an attack on French class consciousness -- was appreciated by a number of film critics who managed to look beyond the sensation surrounding the film, for which the director won several festival awards. His next effort, Zazie Dans Le Metro (1960), was as harmless as his previous film had been controversial; a gleefully impertinent comedy, it told the story of a young girl who runs away from her relatives and the chaos created by her flight.



Malle once again raised eyebrows in America with 1962's La Vie Privée/A Very Private Affair, a Brigitte Bardot vehicle allegedly based upon the actress' own life. The more serious international critics were impressed by his next film, Le Feu Follet/The Fire Within (1963), the alternately repellent and fascinating account of the last days in the life of an alcoholic (played by Maurice Ronet). As with Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud, Le Feu was enhanced by a strong music score, composed in this case by Erik Satie. More controversy came the director's way with his 1969 documentary L'Inde Fantome/Phantom India, which caused the Indian government to lodge a complaint against Malle's unblinking look at the country's appalling poverty. Le Souffle au Coeur/Murmur of the Heart (1971), an Italian-German co-production, was a gentle comedy about the subject of incest and family values, while Lacombe Lucien (1974) was a dissection of France under Nazi occupation; both films, however, tended to solidify Malle's reputation as a "sex" director in the eyes of those who couldn't see beyond this element.



Sex was a theme once again in Pretty Baby (1978), Malle's first American film, in which Brooke Shields (in her first important role) played a 12-year-old New Orleans prostitute. The film stirred up the would-be censors of the world, but the fuss was truly unnecessary; the film was more atmospheric than erotic, eschewing graphic depiction for thought-provoking insights on the nature of desire. Malle's next effort, Atlantic City (1980) was widely hailed as his best American film, featuring topnotch performances from Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon. What might have become a seamy look at American subculture in lesser hands became a life-affirming romance, making an unlikely hero out of an erstwhile drug courier. The film won numerous international honors, including a British Academy Award for Best Direction for Malle.

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Before the Nickelodeon: The Early Cinema of Edwin S. Porter
  • Actor
2006
89% Vanya on 42nd Street
  • Director
1995
No Score Yet Who Is Henry Jaglom?
  • Actor
1995
No Score Yet La Vie de Bohème (Bohemian Life)
  • Gentleman
1993
80% Damage
  • Producer
  • Director
1992
100% May Fools
  • Producer
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
1989
97% Goodbye, Children (Au Revoir Les Enfants)
  • Producer
1987
No Score Yet And the Pursuit of Happiness
  • Narrator
  • Director
1986
No Score Yet God's Country (Le Pays de Dieu)
  • Director
1986
No Score Yet Alamo Bay
  • Producer
  • Director
1985
No Score Yet God's Country
  • Director
  • Narrator
1985
0% Crackers
  • Director
1984
No Score Yet The Road to Bresson (De weg naar Bresson)
  • Actor
1984
91% My Dinner with André
  • Director
1981
100% Atlantic City
  • Director
1980
80% Pretty Baby
  • Director
1978
50% Black Moon
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1975
No Score Yet Place de la République
  • Director
1974
100% Lacombe Lucien
  • Producer
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
1974
No Score Yet Humain, Trop Humain
  • Director
1973
No Score Yet Phantom India
  • Director
  • Actor
1972
No Score Yet Calcutta
  • Director
  • Actor
  • Producer
1971
90% Murmur of the Heart
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1971
90% Spirits of the Dead
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
1969
No Score Yet Very Curious Girl
  • Jesus
1969
No Score Yet The Thief of Paris (Le Voleur)
  • Director
1967
No Score Yet Vive le Tour
  • Director
1966
No Score Yet Viva Maria!
  • Director
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
1965
90% Le Feu follet (A Time to Live and a Time to Die) (The Fire Within)
  • Director
1963
No Score Yet Vie privée (A Very Private Affair)
  • Director
1962
87% Zazie dans le métro (Zazie in the Subway)
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
  • Producer
1960
100% The Lovers (Les Amants)
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1959
93% Elevator to the Gallows (Ascenseur pour l'échafaud)
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
1958
No Score Yet The Silent World
  • Director
1956

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