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 Posted:   Mar 25, 2021 - 12:17 PM   
 By:   Bond1965   (Member)

French film director Bertrand Tavernier passed away at age 79. He is probably best known to U.S. audiences for his 1986 film ROUND MIDNIGHT but directed many wonderful films before and after that.

Many of his films feature scores by Philippe Sarde.

You can read more about his career and life here:


So busy getting the last name right that I fucked up the first.

 Posted:   Mar 25, 2021 - 5:11 PM   
 By:   ZardozSpeaks   (Member)

Antoine Duhamel was another composer who had a significant collaboration with Bertrand Tavernier on such films as Safe Conduct, Daddy Nostalgia & Death Watch.

A photo of Bertrand is on the reverse side of the Death Watch LP.


 Posted:   Mar 26, 2021 - 9:27 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Eddie Muller posted this nice tribute on Facebook.

BERTRAND TAVERNIER. I met him on a crowded stairway at the St. Malo Festival of books in France. His first words to me were “In your book 'Dark City' you named Karl Kamb as the writer of 'Pitfall.' It was Bill Bowers. You need to fix that in the next edition.”
Such was my introduction to one of the greatest film directors in the world, and surely the planet’s most knowledgeable and passionate cinephile. I was joyously surprised when Bertrand sat next to me on the train-ride back to Paris, during which we shared hours of conversation about—what else—books and movies. It was the start of a lovely friendship, one that found us reuniting in various places over the years. We introduced films together in Montreal. He stayed at my house when visiting the Bay Area, arriving with an extra suitcase filled with DVDs of rare films he generously left behind. He graciously served as my interpreter several times at the Cinematheque Français while I was presenting my “Perles Noires” series in 2011. In Lyon, Paris, and Bologna my wife Kathleen and I enjoyed languorous dinners with Bertrand and his wife Sarah, filled with food and film talk and often featuring drop-in visits from some of the world’s finest filmmakers.

He was inarguably the most significant figure in his nation’s cinema, not just for his own brilliant films, but for the loving way he connected classic and contemporary French film. He had a breathtaking feel for the depth and breadth of history, the discipline and precision of a skilled craftsman, the vision and empathy of a true artist, and the compassionate and humane heart of a genuinely fulfilled person. His passion for cinema, for its art and its artists, has been an extraordinary inspiration to me.

Frankly, ever since that first day in St. Malo I could never quite believe that this exceptional man was so generous and kind to me, so accepting of me as a colleague and a friend. Now I can’t believe he is gone. It truly feels like a light has gone out in my life. Fortunately, Bertrand left behind a radiant spirit, and that light and warmth will always be within me. Of course, all around the world other people are feeling the same things today about their dear friend Bertrand. I think that’s the way it’s supposed to work when you've done it right.
RIP, mon frere. Congratulations on a life well and fully lived.

 Posted:   Mar 26, 2021 - 1:18 PM   
 By:   KeV McG   (Member)

His name was BERTRAND, not BERNARD.
Just a typo heads up.

 Posted:   Apr 30, 2021 - 2:59 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Bertrand Tavernier made his directorial debut in 1964 with one segment of the anthology film LES BAISERS (KISSES). For this film, the producer, instead of using already well-known directors with a commercial draw, allowed five new young directors to each have a crack at an episode about romance.

Tavernier’s segment was entitled “Baiser de Judas” (Kiss of Judas) and starred Laetitia Roman and Judy Del Carril. It was scored by Eddie Vartan. Other than Tavernier, the only other of the five directors to achieve later international recognition was Claude Berri (JEAN DE FLORETTE).

LES BAISERS did not receive a U.S. release, but played in some English-speaking countries as KISS! KISS! KISS!.

 Posted:   Apr 30, 2021 - 3:09 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

So glad you're getting around to this wonderful man. I look forward to learning about some of his less familiar works. Now can somebody please correct the heading?

 Posted:   Apr 30, 2021 - 11:20 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

So glad you're getting around to this wonderful man. I look forward to learning about some of his less familiar works. Now can somebody please correct the heading?

Don't get your hopes up. I'm just going to cover a few that I've seen or hope to see.

 Posted:   May 1, 2021 - 1:47 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

LET JOY REIGN SUPREME is set in 1719 France, four years after Louis XIV's death. Philippe d'Orléans (Philippe Noiret) is the regent for the nine-year-old Louis XV. Philippe is a liberal and a libertine. His right-hand man, Father Dubois (Jean Rochefort), an atheistic and cupid priest, and as libertine as Philippe, tries to take advantage of the famine and of a little rebellion led by a Breton squire, The Marquis de Pontallec (Jean-Pierre Marielle), to become archbishop.

Bertrand Tavernier directed and co-wrote this 1975 historical drama. The film was never released theatrically in Britain but was a hit in the U.S. Tavernier won the French César Award as “Best Director” for this film. The film’s score was taken from a 1705 opera called “Penthée” written by Philippe d'Orléans himself. The music was transcribed from the opera’s manuscripts by Antoine Duhamel. CAM released the score in 1992.


DEATH WATCH (La mort en direct) is part human drama and part futuristic cautionary tale. The movie takes place in Glasgow, in a near future where a stagnant economy hasn't brought down society, yet has made it less livable for the poor while technology separates the haves from the have-nots. Advanced medicine has found the key to curing every disease, so that very few people die of maladies. Old-age homes are packed with healthy, if senile, old people. Perceiving that the jaded public would be fascinated to watch people dying the old way, sleazy NTV television executive “Vincent Ferriman” (Harry Dean Stanton) has devised a popular show, "Death Watch", which documents the agony of the rare individuals that manage to contract a fatal disease.

For his next subject, Vincent finds “Katherine Mortenhoe” (Romy Schneider), a writer of computer books. Initially, Katherine rejects Ferriman’s offer but soon appears to relent when the media, hungry for sensation, turn her and her illness into cause celebres. However, she plans to renege on the deal and flee with the money, abandoning her second husband “Harry Graves” (Vadim Glowna) and head for the remote home of first husband, “Gerald” (Max Von Sydow).

But Vincent has a fantastic trick up his sleeve. Former NTV cameraman “Roddy” (Harvey Keitel) has had a miniaturized TV camera implanted in his eye. He attaches himself to Katherine in her flight across Scotland, transmitting back to the NTV studio a perfect cinema-vérité flow of images and sound, recording every bit of Katherine's ordeal as it happens.

Max Von Sydow and Romy Schneider in DEATH WATCH

The film was based on the David Compton novel "The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, or The Unsleeping Eye.” Bertrand Tavernier dedicated the film to French director Jacques Tourneur, who was groundbreaking in movies with dark subjects, from early horror films like CAT PEOPLE and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE to film noir like OUT OF THE PAST and NIGHTFALL.

At one point in the film, Gerald Mortenhoe (Max von Sydow) tells some historical facts about the Medieval French Composer Robert De Bauleac, while listening to one of his works on a record player. When the film was released, numerous music lovers tried to get a copy of the same recording in classical record stores, which could never obtain it for a very good reason: Robert De Bauleac has never existed, and the composition heard in the film is the work of the film’s composer, César-nominated Antoine Duhamel. However, the concerned piece of music, "Robert De Bauleac's Lament", did appear on the soundtrack LP from DJM Records in France. The LP has not been re-issued on CD.

The film was released in France in 1980 and was picked up by Quartet Films in 1982 for U.S. distribution.

 Posted:   May 1, 2021 - 5:13 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

The original title was Que la fête commence (Let the party begin).

 Posted:   May 1, 2021 - 11:39 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In 1981's COUP DE TORCHON (Wipe / Clean Slate), “Lucien Cordier” (Philippe Noiret), the paunchy police chief of Bourkassa, is a pitiful joke to both his fellow cops and the local French scum. He's baited and humiliated by a pair of sleazy pimps, and ignores savage beatings of black men and white women. At home, his wife “Huguette” (Stéphane Audran) openly keeps a lover in the house (Eddy Mitchell) and passes him off as her brother. For his part, Lucien shacks up with someone else's wife, the pitiful but sex-hungry “Rose” (Isabelle Huppert), while making amorous moves on the new schoolmarm, “Anne” (Irène Skobline), whose relative innocence intrigues him. Lucien finally embarks on a plan to “wipe the slate clean.”

Director Bertrand Tavernier explained: "It's about revenge, of course, but it's about something else as well. It's about God and free will, and it has a lot of religious and metaphysical implications, some of which [screenwriter] Jean Aurenche and I invented, and some of which are in [Jim Thompson’s] book [Pop. 1280].”

Philippe Sarde’s score was released on an RCA LP in France and a DRG LP in the U.S., but has not been re-issued on CD. COUP DE TORCHON received an Oscar nomination as “Best Foreign Language Film,” losing to VOLVER A EMPEZAR from Spain. Tavernier was nominated for a César Award as Best Director,” losing to Jean-Jacques Annaud for QUEST FOR FIRE.

 Posted:   May 2, 2021 - 12:28 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

The idea for MISSISSIPPI BLUES took root in the fall of 1982 after director Robert Parrish (THE WONDERFUL COUNTRY), who was raised in Mississippi, received a telephone call from his friend of over twenty years, Bertrand Tavernier. Tavernier had secured financing and a French crew of seven, and wanted to explore William Faulkner’s American South. The friends agreed to co-direct a documentary. Arriving on location in Oxford, Mississippi in late October 1982, the pair quickly turned from the subject of Faulkner to an examination of the local culture and the gospel and blues influence in the region.

The documentary shoot lasted six weeks, and the filmmakers ended up with 75,000 feet of exposed film. Press reports at the time referred to the film as “Mississippi ’82.” “I told them they wouldn’t be able to sell a documentary,” said Oxford Mayor John Leslie. “But the directors said the French have an unsatisfiable appetite for anything that shows how other people live.” “I think it’s an upbeat production,” Leslie said. “Of course, it tells it like it is. They interviewed a goodly number (of blacks).” “There were no actors, everyone played themselves.”

There are unconfirmed reports that some footage from the film was shown at the Toronto Film Festival in September 1983. Referring to the picture as “October Country: Things Seen In Mississippi,” the March 1984 Film Center Gazette (Art Institute of Chicago) announced a retrospective of the work of director Robert Parrish. The Gazette noted that the documentary was still a “work-in-progress,” with the original version in four parts and more than three hours in length. The tribute was set for 28 April 1984, and would include a 150-minute version “cut” by Parrish.

According to the 9 May 1984 Variety, a four-hour television version was set to premiere at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival, with a shorter version planned for theatrical release. The French theatrical release was on 20 June 1984, and the complete four-hour version later aired on French television. A 94-minute version of MISSISSIPPI BLUES premiered in NYC on 20 March 1985, at the Film Forum.

The film captures at length the performances of choirs interpreting gospels during Sunday worship. These choral moments alternate with more intimate ones dedicated to the songs of amateur bluesmen. Tavernier goes to an area called Dockery Farms and learns about a group of musicians, including Charlie Patton, whose “Bottleneck” style of singing, noted for using a strong, guttural voice, inspired singers Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, and marked the beginning of Blues music.

The film’s music was released on a Milan LP, which was re-issued on CD in 1989.

 Posted:   May 3, 2021 - 1:13 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

It’s the end of summer, 1912. As almost every week, with his three children and his wife “Marie-Thérèse” (Geneviève Mnich), “Gonzague” (Michel Aumont) comes to spend A SUNDAY IN THE COUNTRY on the huge property of his father, “Mr. Ladmiral” (Louis Ducreux). The old man has been living alone with his faithful servant “Mercédès” (Monique Chaumette) since he lost his wife a few years ago. A respected painter for want of being famous (because he was too "academic"), he continued to take refuge in his painting when he felt sadness invade him. The routine of this peaceful family reunion will be "disturbed" by the impromptu visit of “Irene” (Sabine Azéma), Mr. Ladmiral’s unmarried daughter.

A SUNDAY IN THE COUNTRY received both Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations as “Best Foreign Film.” It lost the Golden Globe to David Lean’s A PASSAGE TO INDIA, and since the latter was not a “foreign” film to BAFTA, it lost the BAFTA award to Carlos Saura’s CARMEN. However, the London Critics Circle voted the film the “Foreign Language Film of the Year.” The National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle also awarded the picture honors as “Best Foreign Language Film.” Bertrand Tavernier was voted “Best Director” at the Cannes Film Festival. He and his co-writer, wife Colo Tavernier, received a César Award for “Best Adapted Screenplay.”

The film’s score consisted primarily of classical pieces by Gabriel Fauré, arranged by Phillipe Sarde. Additional music was provided by Marc Perrone and Louis Ducreux. That music, and one of the Fauré pieces (along with Phillipe Sarde’s score for LA PIRATE) was released on a Varese Sarabande LP in the U.S. and a Milan LP in France. The LP has not had a CD re-issue.

 Posted:   May 3, 2021 - 3:40 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Bertrand Tavernier became a jazz aficionado in his youth, and was concerned by the ways in which Hollywood studios historically documented jazz music and its players on film. Although jazz originated in African American culture, movies about the genre always centered on white musicians, while black artists such as Louis Armstrong were always presented in supporting roles to white performers. In addition, Tavernier believed it was impossible to capture the improvisational quality of jazz with non-musician actors. Upon seeing a photograph of saxophonist Lester Young, who died at age forty-nine from alcoholism after a long stint as an expatriate in Paris, Tavernier decided to loosely base ’ROUND MIDNIGHT on Young, and “the last months in the life of a jazz musician.”

Tavernier and co-writer David Rayfiel began the script with two musician protagonists, but the similarity in perspective did not result in enough dramatic tension. Looking for an alternate narrative, the writers considered a James Jones story about a blacklisted American musician in Paris who befriended jazz artists such as Django Reinhardt. However, the weighty blacklist issue overshadowed the jazz theme, and the film became too political. Around that time, Tavernier consulted with graphic designer-writer Francis Paudras, who had a vast knowledge of jazz expatriates in France, and learned about Paudras’s friendship with pianist Bud Powell. Paudras explained that he stood outside Parisian clubs in the rain to listen to Powell perform when he did not have enough money for admission. Moved by Paudras’s dedication, Tavernier transformed the script to reflect his story.

While developing the screenplay, Tavernier described the project to fellow filmmaker Martin Scorsese, who in turn pitched the film to Irwin Winkler, his producer on NEW YORK, NEW YORK (1977), which had centered on a saxophone player. Within several days, Winkler agreed to produce ‘ROUND MIDNIGHT. Winkler became involved with the production approximately two years before filming began on 1 July 1985, and funding came from Tavernier’s production company, Little Bear, as well as from the film’s distributor, the Warner Bros. French production affiliate, Production et Edition Cinematographique Francaise (PECF).

With financing in place, and half the screenplay completed, Tavernier began searching for a jazz musician to perform the lead role of “Dale Turner,” a composite of Lester Young and Bud Powell. Upon viewing home movies of jazz performers, Tavernier became intent on hiring saxophonist Dexter Gordon, even though Gordon had been missing for several years, and many presumed he was dead from alcoholism. Five weeks later, however, pianist Henri Renaud located Gordon in New York City. Although Gordon had performed an uncredited bit role in UNCHAINED (1955) and appeared in the Swedish film I LOVE, YOU LOVE (1968), ‘ROUND MIDNIGHT marked his first lead role in a feature film.

Dexter Gordon in ‘ROUND MIDNIGHT

Gordon recorded a session with Bud Powell in 1963 when they were both in Paris. Powell had been plagued by mental illness for many years, and was playing by instinct and memory, but critics lauded Gordon for bringing out the best of Powell.

Gordon contributed to the development of his character in ‘ROUND MIDNIGHT and wrote dialogue including the thematic line “Do you like basketball?” which was repeated throughout the film. Bertrand Tavernier’s wife, Colo Tavernier, reportedly co-wrote the French dialogue and re-wrote scenes with “Francis Borier” (François Cluzet) and his estranged wife, “Sylvie” (Christine Pascal), but Colo is not credited onscreen as a writer. She does receive acknowledgement for the script’s French translation.

Principal photography got underway at Studios d’Épinay in Paris on 1 July 1985. The film was shot almost entirely on set, where Paris’s “Blue Note” club, and New York City’s “Birdland,” were recreated. Exteriors for the Blue Note were shifted from its actual location on Rue d’Artois to the intersection of Rue de Buci and Rue de Seine in the Left Bank to enhance its visual appeal. Nearly two months into production, Martin Scorsese reported on set for three days to perform his role of “Goodley,” and the production then moved to Tavernier’s hometown of Lyon to shoot exteriors. The crew was scheduled to relocate to New York City on 16 September 1985 for a final week of production, but Dexter Gordon was hospitalized for abdominal pain, and the shooting schedule was pushed back. Filming resumed on 30 September 1985 at LaGuardia Airport.

Dexter Gordon was nominated for an Academy Award as “Best Actor in a Leading Role” and received a Golden Globe nomination for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama.” Gordon lost the Oscar to Paul Newman for THE COLOR OF MONEY and the Golden Globe to Bob Hoskins for MONA LISA. ‘ROUND MIDNIGHT won the “Best Film” award at the Venice Film Festival.

All music performances in the picture were filmed live, and were not overdubbed in the final cut. The film was a controversial winner of the “Best Original Score” Oscar for Herbie Hancock, given the large amount of pre-existing jazz included in the film. Only three of the twelve tracks on the Columbia soundtrack CD were of Hancock’s score. Dexter Gordon also released a tie-in album called “The Other Side of Round Midnight” on the Blue Note label, which included studio performances of some of the music in the film plus other tracks.

The $3 million 1986 production broke even in the U.S., with a $3.3 million gross. Hopefully foreign receipts provided some profit.

 Posted:   May 3, 2021 - 3:56 PM   
 By:   Advise & Consent   (Member)

@ Mr. DiMucci: are you going to be talking about Deathwatch?

 Posted:   May 3, 2021 - 11:14 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

@ Mr. DiMucci: are you going to be talking about Deathwatch?

Well, I didn't cover it when Harry Dean Stanton died, and I didn't cover it when Max Von Sydow died, so I'll include it here.

I've slotted it in above where it fits in chronologically.

 Posted:   May 4, 2021 - 12:45 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In BEATRICE (La passion Béatrice), Bertrand Tavernier depicts French life in the Middle Ages as dreary, unromantic, and brutal. The story begins when a warrior leaves home to fight in the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) between France and England. Before his departure, he gives his young son, “François” (Sébastien Konieczny), a sword to safeguard his mother and her virtue. One day, after the boy opens a bedroom door to find his mother willingly submitting to a man, he uses the sword to kill the man and becomes traumatized with guilt and enmity toward his mother.

Years later, François (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) must go off to war as a chevalier, or knight. While he is away, his daughter, the gentle and loving “Béatrice” (Julie Delpy), sees to the needs of her little brother and her feckless mother. Although the castle in which they live is a sepulcher of shadows and stone, Béatrice maintains her spirits as she looks forward to the day when her father's voice will once again echo in the corridors. After four years of war in which he was held captive for a time by the English, he returns to the castle, a hardened warrior who has renounced God. Inside his twisted mind, he still carries the memory of that terrible day long ago, the day he discovered that his mother was an adulteress.

Bertrand Tavernier said that Julie Delpy had an exceptional power of concentration and emotion. She had to shoot a quite difficult scene completely naked. He told her there would be no rehearsal. The first take went very well, but she asked for a second. She said to him: "I can do better."

Ron Carter’s score was released on a CBS LP in France, but has not been re-issued on CD. There are indications that a Varese Sarabande CD of the score was cancelled.

 Posted:   May 4, 2021 - 1:14 PM   
 By:   Advise & Consent   (Member)

@ Mr. DiMucci: are you going to be talking about Deathwatch?

Well, I didn't cover it when Harry Dean Stanton died, and I didn't cover it when Max Von Sydow died, so I'll include it here.

I've slotted it in above where it fits in chronologically.

Many thanks. Highly underrated and prescient movie. Hopefully, a label will release Duhamel"s score on CD (looking at you Music Box).

 Posted:   May 4, 2021 - 11:25 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In LIFE AND NOTHING BUT, his seventh feature film with Bertrand Tavernier, Philippe Noiret starred as “Major Delaplane,” a cynical soldier who, in the years following World War I, has been tasked with identifying thousands of fallen French soldiers. He forms a bond with “Irène de Courtil” (Sabine Azéma), a woman who is looking for her missing husband.

The part of Irène was originally written for Fanny Ardant, but she had to decline because of her pregnancy. Bertrand Tavernier then considered Catherine Deneuve, but she'd already co-starred numerous times with Philippe Noiret. The part ended up going to Sabine Azéma.

Bertrand Tavernier and Philippe Noiret on the set of LIFE AND NOTHING BUT

The film received a BAFTA Award as “Best Foreign Language Film” as well as the “Best Foreign Film” award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

Oswald D'Andrea’s César Award-winning score for the 1989 film was released by DRG in the U.S. and Polydor in France.

 Posted:   May 5, 2021 - 1:42 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Tightly wound Parisian narcotics officer “Lucien ‘Lulu’ Marguet” (Didier Bezace) teeters on the brink of job-related burnout despite his desire to wipe out the city's drug dealers. His bureaucracy-minded boss (Jean-Paul Comart) focuses more on paperwork -- including the form coded L.627 -- than on infiltrating the major suppliers. Female undercover officer “Marie” (Charlotte Kady) and HIV-positive streetwalker “Cecile” (Lara Guirao) help Lulu's attempts to fight the dealers on their own turf.

Bertrand Tavernier worked on the script with a real Drug Squad detective, and dedicated the film to his ex-heroin-addict son. Philippe Sarde’s score was released by Milan. The 1992 release received César Award nominations for Best Film and Best Director.

 Posted:   May 6, 2021 - 1:25 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

A sequel to “The Three Musketeers” never imagined by Dumas, D’ARTAGNAN’S DAUGHTER (La fille de d'Artagnan) stars Sophie Marceau as D'Artagnan's daughter “Eloise,” who, in the mid-17th century, takes up her father's adventurous ambitions when the convent she calls home falls victim to villainy. After finding her father (Philippe Noiret), she sets about assembling the remaining Musketeers, who, though out of shape and out of practice, soon fall back on their old ways in the name of truth, justice, and the Gallic way.

This was to be the first film directed in 14 years by Riccardo Freda, who had directed D’ARTAGNAN’S SON (Le fils de D'Artagnan) way back in 1950. This was a reworking of that film. But after just a short time, Sophie Marceau threatened to quit the project unless the producers got rid of Freda, with whom Marceau disagreed all the time. For his part, Freda refused to talk to Marceau. Freda, then 84, was fired from the project, and his credit was removed. It was his last directing assignment.

Co-writer Bertrand Tavernier was assigned to complete the film. Even so, Sophie Marceau was publicly unhappy with the film's focus on the Musketeers in its latter half, arguing that the film should have concentrated wholly on her character, as the title suggests. The picture was released in France in 1994. Philippe Sarde’s César-nominated score was released by Sony Classical.

Despite the stateside popularity of Richard Lester’s Musketeer films of the 1970s, D’ARTAGNAN’S DAUGHTER did not get a U.S. theatrical release. Similar to Lester’s 1989 film THE RETURN OF THE MUSKETEERS, which went directly to cable television in the U.S., D’ARTAGNAN’S DAUGHTER was not seen in America until Miramax acquired it and released it directly to video in 1999, under the title REVENGE OF THE MUSKETEERS.

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