Henri Verneuil (1920-2002)
Henri Verneuil (left) with Alain Delon in the late 1960s

One of the great yet unheralded French directors, whose career spanned more than 40 years. He made his first films in the 1950s, most of them being comedies starring the great Fernandel. Verneuil also often worked with French screen greats Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Gabin and Lino Ventura.
In the 1960s Verneuil made several war films, always focusing more on drama than action. He did make some straight thrillers, most notably PEUR SUR LA VILLE (1975) and LE CLAN DES SICILIENS (1969), the latter one being the best-known among international audiences.
When Verneuil turned to more serious topics of political intrigue and conspiracy in the 1970s, he delivered his best work. After the rather dull Cold War thriller LE SERPENT (1972), he directed superstar Jean-Paul Belmondo in the intelligent drama LE CORPS DE MON ENNEMI (1976). Verneuil followed this with his best film, the brilliant political thriller I... COMME ICARE (1979), which mirrors the events around the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Three years later, MILLE MILLIARDS DE DOLLARS (1982), a political conspiracy thriller, slightly inferior to its predecessors but still evocative, complemented this trilogy of excellent films.
Immediately after MILLE MILLIARDS DE DOLLARS, Verneuil directed LES MORFALOUS (1984), a notably brainless actioner set in Tunisia during WW2. Towards the end of his career Verneuil made two more movies - labors of love - which reflect his own childhood and upbringing, MAYRIG (1991) and 588 RUE PARADIS (1992).
At the age of 82 the director died, mainly without the international recognition that his oeuvre would have deserved.



La Table aux Crevés (1952; dir, coscr; based on the novel by Marcel Aymé)
Le Fruit Défendu (1952; dir, coscr; based on the novel by Georges Simenon)
Brelan d'As (1952; dir)
Le Boulanger de Valorgue (1952; dir)
Carnaval (1953; dir; based on Emile Mazaud's play)
L'Ennemi Public No 1 (1953; dir)
Le Mouton à Cinq Pattes (1954; dir, coscr)
Les Amants du Tage (1955; dir)
Des Gens Sans Importance (1955; dir, coscr; based on the novel by Serge Groussard)
Paris, Palace Hotel (1956; dir, coscr)
Une Manche et la Belle (1957; dir)
Sois Belle et Tais-Toi (1958; codir)
Maxime (1958; dir, coscr; based on Henri Duvernois's novel)
Le Grand Chef (1959; dir, coscr; based on the novel by O. Henry)
La Vache et le Prisonier (1959; dir, coscr)
L'Affaire d'Une Nuit (1960; dir, act)
La Francaise et l'Amour (1960; codir)
Le Président (1961; dir, coscr)
Les Lions Sont Lachés (1961; dir)
Un Singe en Hiver (1962; dir)
Mélodie en Sous-Sol (1963; dir)
Cent Mille Dollars en Soleil (1963; dir, coscr)
Week-end à Zuydcoote (1964; dir; based on the novel by Robert Merle)
La Vingt-Cinquième Heure (1967; dir, coscr; based on the novel by C. Virgil Gheorghiu)
La Bataille de San Sebastian (1968; dir; based on the novel by William Barby Faherty)
Le Clan des Siciliens (1969; dir, coscr; based on the novel by Auguste Le Breton)
Le Casse (1971; dir, coscr, prod; based on the novel by David Goodis)
Le Serpent (1972; dir, coscr, prod)
Peur Sur la Ville (1975; dir, coscr)
Le Corps de mon Ennemi (1976; dir, coscr, coprod; based on the novel by Félicien Marceau)
I... Comme Icare (1979; dir, scr, prod)
Mille Milliards de Dollars (1982; dir, scr, prod; based on novels by Lawrence Meyer and Robert Lattes)
Les Morfalous (1984; dir, coscr; based on the novel by Pierre Siniac)
Mayrig (1991; dir, scr; based on Verneuil's autobiographical novel)
588 Rue Paradis (1992; dir, scr; sequel to Mayrig)
Mayrig (1993; dir, scr; TV mini series)

© Ron Altman (last update 03/09/2005)