The French actress Françoise Arnoul, notably famous for having played the dancer Nini in “French Cancan” by Jean Renoir, as well as for her collaboration with Henri Verneuil, died at the age of 90.
Daughter of an artillery general and an actress, Françoise Arnoul spent her youth in Algeria. From the age of seven, she took classical dance lessons in Rabat. In the aftermath of the Second World War, she landed in France and enrolled in drama lessons with Andrée Bauer-Thérond (like Michel Piccoli and Anouk Aimée).
An impresario notices her and introduces her to Willy Rozier who is looking for a young girl to play the very undressed role of Perruche in L’épave. This performance made her a star, at only 18 years old. It also confirms its new status by continuing with a comedy by Jean Boyer, We will go to Paris.
In the films that follow, she is often confined to the characters of a lost girl, sometimes perverse (The Forbidden Fruit by Henri Verneuil in 1952, La Rage au corps and Les Compagnes de la nuit by Ralph Habib in 1953). In 1955, she finds a role to her true measure in French Cancan by Jean Renoir (who becomes one of her great friends), in which Jean Gabin transforms the little laundress she is the star of the cancan. She also found Gabin the same year in People of no importanceHenri verneuil.
The following years, we see her as a Venetian lover with Roger Vadim (Do we never know? In 1957) or as a seductive Cat in the eponymous film by Henri Decoin (1958) and its sequel The Cat takes out its claws (1960). She also shoots for Julien Duvivier (The Devil and the Ten Commandments, 1962 sketch film) and Michel Deville (Lucky Jo in 1964).
From the end of the 1960s, she became much rarer in the cinema, launching into unionism with her second husband (she had been briefly married to Georges Cravenne), the filmmaker Bernard Paul, and taking up the cause for the abortion by signing the manifesto 343, public call for civic disobedience, four years before the Veil law, signed by women who claimed to have resorted to this practice.
She still shoots for directors like Jean-Claude Missiaen (Night watch in 1984), Jean Marboeuf (See the elephant in 1990, Temps de chien in 1996) or Brigitte Roüan (Post coitum, sad animal in 1997). In 1997, the actress was president of the jury of the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Since 1998, his rare appearances have been made in television films, such as L’Alambic (again under the direction of Jean Marboeuf), Duval: Un mort de trop en 2001 and Le Voyageur de la Toussaint in 2007. She appeared on the big screen in only three films between 1997 and 2015: Thank you for the gesture of Claude Faraldo in 2000, the drama Beau rivage by Julien Donada in 2011, in which she played one of the main roles alongside Daniel Duval and Chiara Caselli, and Le Cancre by Paul Vecchiali, selected at Cannes.
In July 2021, she died at the age of 90, following a long illness.
(Re) discover the trailer for “Cancre”, Françoise Arnoul’s latest film …