Charles Denner

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Charles Denner (29 May 1926 – 10 September 1995) was a French actor born to a Jewish family in Tarnów, Poland. During his 30-year career he worked with some of France's greatest directors of the time, including Louis Malle, Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, Costa-Gavras, Claude Lelouch and François Truffaut, who gave him two of his most memorable roles, as Fergus in The Bride Wore Black (1968) and as Bertrand Morane in The Man Who Loved Women (1977).[1]

Early life[edit]

Denner was born in 1926 in the city of Tarnów in south-eastern Poland, before emigrating with his family to France at the age of four. During World War II, his family took refuge in Brive-la-Gaillarde, where they were helped by Rabbi David Feuerwerker. During World War II Charles Denner was a Free French partisan in the Vercors mountains and destroyed a Nazi SS truck with a grenade; he was wounded and later received the Croix de Guerre for this operation. Passionate about theatre from his childhood, Denner became a student of Charles Dullin, a famous theatre teacher of his time, under whose guidance he remained until 1945. Another great personality of French theatre, Jean Vilar, impressed by Denner's performance at Les mamelles de Tirésias (The Breasts of Tiresias) called him four years after he left Vilar to join the Théâtre National Populaire (TNP). It was there that he gave some of his earliest stage performances in plays such as Heinrich von Kleist's Prinz Friedrich von Homburg and Alfred de Musset's Lorenzaccio, among others.


In 1955, director Yves Allégret offered Denner a small role in La Meilleure part (The Best Part), thus introducing him for the first time to cinema audiences. Two years later, in 1957, he secured another secondary role in Louis Malle's legendary Elevator to the Gallows, next to Jeanne Moreau, a co-performer of his from the days of the TNP; however, it was not until 1963 that Denner was offered his first leading role by Claude Chabrol in Landru, a film considered by many as his greatest on-screen performance. Despite his growing recognition on the big screen, the stage remained his true passion and the place where he gave his most memorable performances in plays like Molière's Les Fourberies de Scapin (Scapin's Schemings) and Brecht's Drums in the Night.


On 10 September 1995 Denner died of pneumonia in Dreux, France.


Year Title Role Director Notes
1954 Poisson d'avril a guest in a café Gilles Grangier Uncredited
1954 Men in White Un interne Ralph Habib
La Meilleure Part Un ingénieur adjoint Yves Allégret
1958 Elevator to the Gallows L'adjoint du commissaire Cherrier Louis Malle
1963 Bluebeard Henri Désiré Landru Claude Chabrol
1964 La Vie à l'envers Jacques Valin Alain Jessua
Les plus belles escroqueries du monde the swindler Claude Chabrol (segment "Le Grand Escroq") (scenes deleted)
Les Pieds nickelés Filochard Jean-Claude Chambon
Mata Hari, Agent H21 Soldier #1 Jean-Louis Richard Uncredited
1965 Marie-Chantal contre le docteur Kha Johnson Claude Chabrol
The Sleeping Car Murders Bob Vaski - l'amant de Georgette Costa-Gavras
1966 YUL 871 L'ingénieur européen Jacques Godbout
1967 The Thief of Paris Jean-François Cannonier Louis Malle
The Two of Us Monsieur Langmann Claude Berri
1968 The Bride Wore Black Fergus François Truffaut
La trêve Julien Claude Guillemot
1969 Z Manuel Costa-Gavras
Le corps de Diane Julien Keller Jean-Louis Richard
1970 Le Voyou Monsieur Gallois Claude Lelouch
1971 The Married Couple of the Year Two the traveller Jean-Paul Rappeneau
Law Breakers Graziani Marcel Carné
1972 L'aventure, c'est l'aventure Simon Duroc Claude Lelouch
Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me Arthur François Truffaut
1973 The Inheritor David Loweinstein Philippe Labro
Un officier de police sans importance Serge Monnier Jean Larriaga
Défense de savoir Jean Ravier Nadine Trintignant
1974 The Holes Ministre des travaux publics Pierre Tchernia
And Now My Love David Goldman Claude Lelouch
1975 Peur sur la ville Inspector Moissac Henri Verneuil
Vous ne l'emporterez pas au paradis Nicolas François Dupont-Midi
1976 If I Had to Do It All Over Again the lawyer Claude Lelouch
Mado Reynald Manecca Claude Sautet
La Première Fois Father Claude Berri
1977 The Man Who Loved Women Bertrand Morane François Truffaut
1978 Robert et Robert Robert Goldman Claude Lelouch
1980 La verdad sobre el caso Savolta Lepprince Antonio Drove
Le coeur à l'envers Guillaume Franck Apprederis
1982 Mille milliards de dollars [fr] Walte Henri Verneuil
A Captain's Honor Maître Gillard - un avocat Pierre Schoendoerffer
1983 Rock 'n Torah Joseph, le père d'Isaac Marc-André Grynbaum
Stella Richard Laurent Heynemann
1986 L'unique Vox, le producteur Jérôme Diamant-Berger
Golden Eighties M. Schwartz Chantal Akerman (final film role)


  1. ^ Riding, Alan (1995-09-12). "Charles Denner, 69, French Star Of Truffaut and Lelouch Films". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-15.

External links[edit]

Charles Denner - All Things Denner

Charles Denner - All Things Denner