Saturday, December 15, 2012

Juliette Gréco and Fifties France

A singer in tune with the times, she never lost her bohemian edge. . . 

Juliette Gréco, a French singer and actress born February 7, 1927, started her career as a chanson singer in 1949.  Jean Cocteau, a writer-director who also met Juliette during this time, offered her a part in a movie, Orphée.  It was the first of several movies in the fifties and sixties. 

During her childhood, her maternal grandparents cared for her in the south of France, as her parents worked for the Resistance during the Occupation.  She moved to the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area in the Latin Quarter of Paris in 1946, after her mother left France for Indochina. 


In the Latin Quarter, a church from 542 A.D., towers over the square. . .

Saint-Germain-des-Prés, by Green Eye

Emerging on the Paris scene in the years following the Occupation, Juliette became part of the café society regulars in the Latin Quarter.  Many artists and intellectuals were infatuated with Gréco's dark looks, long hair, black attire and intellect. Her sultry singing voice and acting ability didn't hurt her chances, either. She was part of the  existential group which included Jean-Paul Sartre and Simon de Beauvoir.

Gréco spent the post-liberation years at the St. Germaine cafés immersing herself in the bohemian culture and its philosophy.  As a regular at these venues, she met many of the musicians, including Miles Davis. They had a bittersweet relationship, thwarted by the mores of the decade.

Home to Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore  (shown below), the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area was the epicenter of the existentialist movement.

Cafe de Flore, Latin Quarter, Paris, by DG Hudson


In the late 1960s, Juliette was cast in the tv serial, Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre.  She was also in the cast of the French fantasy film of the same name produced in 2001.  The film, Phantom of the Louvre, was the first feature film to be shot inside the famous museum.  Other movies:  Bonjour Tristesse, and The Night of the Generals.

To see Juliette Gréco in her early years, click the link below: - early film clips, no soundtrack

Have you heard of Juliette Gréco, the French actress and singer?   She inspired many artists, musicians, and writers. Sometimes, the timing is perfect.

If you have time, check out the Christmas Scenes post on my 21st Century Blog.  You can also click on the top photo in the right sidebar.

Best Wishes for the Holidays and 2013 !

References: Juliette Gréco classic, Sous ciel de Paris, Youtube. Movies with Juliette Gréco An interview with Juliette Gréco, including her relationship with Miles Davis.  The Guardian, Thursday, May 25, 2006.