||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (January 2013)|
Jean Servais in trailer for "La fièvre monte à El Pao" (1959)
24 September 1910
|Died||17 February 1976
|Occupation||Film and stage actor|
|Years active||1932–1939, 1948–1973|
His acting skills came to the attention of Raymond Rouleau, and he was hired at the Théâtre du Marais, where he acted in Le mal de jeunesse, which was successful in Brussels and in Paris. He was also a member of Jean-Louis Barrault's theatre company.
His first film role was as the simple country dweller who was the victim of an error by the justice system in the film Criminel (1932), directed by Jack Forrester. Servais's film career continued in the 1930s with roles in films such as La Chanson De L'Adieu (1934) and La Vie Est Magnifique (1938). After a break in acting during World War II, he returned to the screen with roles in films such as La Danse De Mort (1948).
In the 1950s, he displayed a brooding, haunted demeanor in the crime drama Rififi (1955) (which François Truffaut ranked as the best film noir) directed by Jules Dassin, in which he played an embittered and physically ailing leader of a gang of jewel thieves. He appeared in another film directed by Dassin, Celui qui doit mourir, in 1957. He also appeared in La fièvre monte à El Pao (1959), a film written and directed by Luis Buñuel.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Servais rejoined the Renaud-Barrault theatre troupe for several plays, including La Répétition ou l'Amour puni (1950), Volpone (1955), and Marat/Sade (1966). In the 1960s, Servais took small character roles in popular international fare such as The Longest Day (1962), an epic recreation of the Allied invasion of Normandy, and That Man From Rio (1964). Other films in which he acted include Le Sahara Brule (1960), Un Soir Par Hasard (1964) Avec la Peau des Autres (1966).
He had roles in several films in the early 1970s, such as The Devil's Nightmare (1971), an Italian horror series, and Le Protecteur (1973), about a recently released prisoner who tries to find his daughter who has fallen into the underworld of prostitution.
- Mater dolorosa (1932)
- Criminel (1932)
- Voix sans visage, La (1933)
- Dernière heure (1934)
- Chanson de l'adieu, La (1934)
- Amok (1934)
- Les Misérables (1934)
- Jeunesse (1934)
- Angèle (1934)
- Bourrasque (1935)
- Une fille à papa (1935)
- Valse éternelle (1936)
- Une si jolie petite plage (1950)
- Le Chevalier de la nuit (1953)
- Rififi (1955)
- Heroes and Sinners (it) (1955)
- The Lebanese Mission (1956)
- World in My Pocket (1961)
- The Corsican Brothers (1961)
- The Cage (1963)
- Black Jesus (1968)
- They Came to Rob Las Vegas (1968)
- Protecteur, Le (1974)
- Yvan Foucart: Dictionnaire des comédiens français disparus, Mormoiron : Éditions cinéma, 2008, p. 1185, ISBN 978-2-9531-1390-7