L’Homme Fatal: Alain Delon

Combine a something-to-prove lit-fuse charisma and a golden-boy-gets-rough assurance with ineffable Gallic cool…and you’re close to gauging the appeal that made Alain Delon one of the biggest movie stars France has ever produced. Virile yet vulnerable, handsome yet malleable, Delon was one of his country’s top draws from the outset of the 1960s until near the twilight of the 20th century. A turbulent childhood and an unsettled early adulthood after military service led him to redirect his energies into an acting career; directors saw that this ambiguous young man had screen presence to burn, smolder, and ignite. Equally at home in films d’auteur and crowd-pleasing genre fare (with a penchant for policiers and gangster films), Delon was unafraid of playing unsympathetic or inscrutable characters—which made for an ingrained tension with audience identification that he mined again and again. He took more creative ownership by producing, and on occasion writing and directing. Although he never forsook his home base and native cinema, he successfully courted global stardom through adventurous collaborations and pairings. With this retrospective, the Quad invites you to follow the exploits of his characters, both tough and tender.

Past Screenings