Who is JPB?
From icon of 1960s European art cinema to mainstream action star, confronting character actor and beyond, the inimitably insouciant Jean-Paul Belmondo has held us rapt for over half a century.
Why the appreciation?
The reasons for appreciating the work of JPB are as diverse as his many admirers. Here are just a few of the more common ones:
- He’s the French Humphrey Bogart (or James Dean – take your pick).
- His instantly recognisable style seamlessly crosses the lines between comedy, action and drama, as well as arthouse and mainstream cinema.
- In his younger days, he was known for his athleticism, and performed most of his own stunts.
- According to some, he’s been the inspiration behind a number of comic action characters, worthy of appreciation in their own right. These include the titular character of the Franco-Belgian Western series Blueberry, and the Marvel supervillain Cobra.
- He’s versatile. Along with film acting, his career has spanned film producing and theatre acting. In fact, his early acting training was in the realm of theatre.
- He is technically a Knight in France. Why not?
How can I join the appreciation movement?
Just watch some JPB movies, and tell your friends to do likewise. If you’re late to the party, here are our top three viewing recommendations to get you started. A controversial addition to this list, this widely maligned film represents
- A Bout de Souffle (Breathless) (1960). Jean-Luc Godard’s iconic piece of European art cinema and nouvelle vague classic was JPB’s first role in a feature-length film. You can’t count yourself a fan without seeing this.
- L’Homme de Rio (That Man From Rio) (1964). Philippe de Broca’s Tintin-esque adventure spoof was a hit at the time and remains a cult classic, showcasing JPB in all his action star glory.
- Un Homme et Son Chien (A Man and his Dog) (2008). A controversial addition to this list, this widely maligned film represents JPB’s return to acting following a 2001 stroke and a long period of physical rehabilitation. While it bombed in France, with many preferring to remember their national icon in his former glory, we think there’s something respectable about a former action star who’s willing to reveal himself in such confrontingly time-ravaged form. We’re no spring chickens ourselves, you know.