Lemmy Caution is a fictitious Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent — or in later stories a private detective — created by British writer Peter Cheyney (1896-1951), who published the first book about him in 1936. When This Man is Dangerous was released, Cheyney was a policeman, but the novel's success enabled him to become a professional author.
After the Second World War, many French people had a strong attachment to American culture and American heroes. Against that background, Cheyney's books were promoted successfully all over France, and consequently the French film industry found them suitable material for a series of popular films.
Lemmy Caution novels
- This Man is Dangerous (1936)
- Dames don't care (1937)
- Poison Ivy (1937)
- Can ladies kill? (1938)
- Don't get me wrong (1939)
- You'd be surprised (1940)
- Your deal, my lovely (1941)
- Never a dull moment (1942)
- You can always duck (1943)
- I'll say she does! (1945)
Bernard Borderie had the chance to produce the first French adaption. He was searching for somebody who had the looks of a gangster, and picked Eddie Constantine, who was already known as a singer. So far he had merely played one supporting role in a film of the very same year and his lack of experience as an actor is rather obvious, even without comparing La môme vert-de-gris to his later films. However, he really started through as an actor. Audiences liked his personality, and that led to a whole series of films with "Lemmy Caution".
Lemmy Caution was portrayed as a witty, crafty womanizer who never hesitated to do what he considered right. When playing Lemmy Caution, Eddie Constantine often approached attractive women with a glass of whisky in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
Lemmy Caution and Eddie Constantine were confused in the popular consciousness, and Constantine could never remedy this mix-up. Neither has it ever been reported that anybody had tried to succeed Constantine as Lemmy Caution.
The film adaptions of Peter Cheyney's book showed Lemmy Caution as a strong and optimistic character who would even win when totally outnumbered, so it came as a shock to many fans when they saw Eddie Constantine's portrayal of Lemmy Caution in Alphaville (1965). In this film he was a tired, elderly, and gloomy-looking man wearing the kind of trench-coat associated with Humphrey Bogart, spaced out and lost in a future world.
Lemmy Caution films
- La môme vert de gris (1953) English Title: Poison Ivy
- Cet homme est dangereux (1953) English Title: This Man is Dangerous
- Les femmes s'en balancent (1954) English Title: Dames Get Along
- Vous pigez? (1955) English Title: Diamond Machine
- Comment qu'elle est! (1960) English Title: Women Are Like That
- Lemmy pour les dames (1962) English Title: Ladies' Man
- À toi de faire... mignonne (1963) English Title: Your Turn, Darling
- Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965)
- "En 1936, alors qu’il a le grade de lieutenant, il publie " This man is dangerous " où il met en scène un inspecteur du FBI, dénommé Lemmy Caution". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "The films were adaptations of best selling thriller crime novels by Peter Cheyney and came at a time when American culture was well-received, if not adulated, by the French populace.". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "Bernard Borderie, réalisateur, recherche un type qui a "une gueule de gangster" pour incarner l’agent du F.B.I. Lemmy Caution à l'écran.". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "En 1953, Bernard Borderie lui confie le rôle de l’agent secret Lemmy Caution dans "La môme vert-de-gris", personnage crée par l’écrivain britannique Peter Cheyney.". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "Discovered by Edith Piaf, he became her protégé and close friend, and she helped him launch a career as a popular recording artist.". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "Il débute à l'écran en 1953 et s'impose dès son second film en personnifiant le désinvolte agent du FBI, Lemmy Caution". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "Constantine n’avait guère d’expérience d’acteur (un seul film à son actif) et on peut le dire : ça saute aux yeux !". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "His film career began in 1953, when he first took the role of tough American private eye Lemmy Caution". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "sa gouaille et son accent américain étant fort appréciés du public dans plusieurs pays d'Europe". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "Le succès est tel qu’il reprend le rôle de cet agent secret dans plusieurs films de série B". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "The part of the ladykiller endowed with wit, charme and above-average self-confidence appealed to the mass". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "Lemmy Caution, le dur à cuire, amateur de whisky, et cigarette et de jolies femmes.". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "Le public adopte définitivement le personnage de Cheney dans l'incarnation qu'en propose Eddie Constantine". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "Eddie Constantine reste marqué par Lemmy Caution". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "the nearly caricature-like brawls filled the young audience with enthusiasm". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "En 1965 le film Alphaville, dirigé par Jean-Luc Godard, détruit le mythe Lemmy Caution". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "Le retour de Lemmy Caution de Josée Dayan avec Eddie CONSTANTINE". Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "Le retour de Lemmy Caution". Retrieved 2011-09-14.