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Alain Delon, an Angel Face in Piazza Grande

Alain Delon, an Angel Face in Piazza Grande

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He has the sharpest face of the European cinema and used it to openly steal billionaire identities in the role of the young scoundrel Tom Ripley (Plein Soleil, 1960). It was cynical and opportunist – with a black band on the eye – when he came out from the tables of the Gattopardo (1963) and it kept the eyes nailed on the enemies when he was wearing his orderly Borsalino (1970) giving orders to the Maseillaise clans.

A face which has characterized a whole cinematographic epic since there have been a few personalities like Alain Delon who were able to give blood and charisma to a series of complex characters that were placed always there, in a grey, ambiguous zone where the good is a distant image and the bad a condemnation.

Hardness, sinew and roughness were mixed with an icy beauty. He has always wanted and searched for this strong contrast since the beginning of his adventure when – after a long list of menial jobs – is discovered and engaged by the French director and screenwriter Allégret. Delon's debut takes place in the movie Quand la femme s'en mêle (1957).

In a few time the first duet with the friend/rival Jean-Paul Belmond comes in Sois belle et tais-toi and then in Pierre Gaspard-Huit's Christine where he starts a love relationship with Romy Schneider. In 1960 his filmic journey lives a major turning point: the masterpiece Rocco e i suoi fratelli is in fact based on his aching figure and the movie marks his decisive encounter with Luchino Visconti.

The role of the immigrant boxer Rocco Parondi extends his professional horizons and seems to represent a brilliant exception compared to the typologies of man which will characterize his future performances and will continuously mix experiences in the arthouse cinema with a predilection for the "portal" movies.

This genre seems to renew its action dynamics thanks to his presence - sometimes on the side of the ganglands, sometimes between the police lines, but always without finding peace. In order to understand his slalom as actor, it is just necessary to glide along the most seducing curves of his filmography, from the Gattopardo (Luchino Visconti, 1963) to Eclisse (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962), from Paris brûle-t-il? (René Clément 1966), to Le Samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967), not to mention the several sold-outs obtained by a cult-movie such as Borsalino (Jacques Deray, 1970).

Only a short list of titles – between many candidates – which have always been escorted, preceded or amplified by his popularity and fame as movie star and rebel. In fact, for many years the British media had surnamed him "the male Brigitte Bardot", sealing and celebrating the image of a French cinema which was able to occupy the whole international scene.

Lorenzo Buccella

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