My Love Affair With Alain Delon


Since I’m devoting this week to all things fabulous and French I couldn’t resist spending some time writing about my favorite French actor, the beautiful, enigmatic and talented Alain Delon.

Alain Delon and I begun our one-sided love affair in the summer of 1996. It was then that Purple Noon (a.k.a. Plein Soleil, 1960) was re-released in American movie theaters thanks to Martin Scorsese and Miramax. I read a brief piece about the film in a local paper and thought it sounded fascinating so during its revival I caught Purple Noon playing in San Francisco at the Embarcadero Center.

It’s hard to put into words how my first meeting with Alain Delon transpired but I can tell you that I’ve never fallen so hard and so fast for an actor before and I don’t expect that I ever will again. Delon was without a doubt the most beautiful thing I had ever seen captured on film. To this day I don’t believe there has ever been a more charismatic or beautiful man who has stood in front of a moving camera.

While watching Purple Noon I was completely transfixed by Delon’s incomparable beauty and charm but I was also swept away by his talent. His performance as Tom Ripley in Purple Noon is really remarkable and obliterates all other attempts to bring Patricia Highsmith’s character to life. I loved the way Delon conveyed Ripley’s quiet madness with his facial ticks and icy stares. Delon’s acting was understated but very powerful and his performance in Purple Noon was completely unlike anything I had ever seen before.

When the movie ended I walked out of the theater in a daze. I couldn’t remember the plot or the names of any other people involved in the film except for Alain Delon. I would have to see the movie again (and again, and again…) to fully appreciate it but I did know that Delon had suddenly become my favorite actor and I was determined to see every film he had ever made and to learn as much about him as I could.

Unfortunately, I soon discovered that wasn’t going to be an easy task. 1996 was still the VHS age and eBay and IMDb were in their infantile stages. The internet proved to be utterly useless and searches for Alain Delon brought up next to nothing. I spent my time looking through English language film books for any bits of info I could find about him, but I had very little to show for my efforts. It’s hard to believe now, but Alain Delon was an enigma in 1996. Mostly forgotten by American film audiences and often ignored by American film critics.

My search finally led me to look for a French pen pal in the hope that they might be able to help me in my quest for anything and everything related to Delon. At the time I had a few Japanese pen pals who I exchanged comic books with and with their help I found a French comic book fan who thankfully understood my passion for Delon. She was kind enough to send me second generation VHS tapes of some of Delon’s French films as well as photos that she cut out of old magazines. The more I learned about Delon, the more I became fascinated with him. He’s no angel and he’s definitely done things that I can’t possibly begin to understand (neglecting his son Christian by Nico comes to mind). He’s human after all, and like all human beings, he has good and bad qualities. His complexity as an individual and as an artist continues to fascinate me.

c1a23de654e6cdec0a63fa1794435ca7Fast forward to Sept. 1997 – I decided to take a class on web design at my local community college in order to improve my job opportunities. The teacher asked us all to create a web project featuring content or a subject that we felt was underrepresented on the web. Since there were absolutely no English language websites devoted to Alain Delon in 1997 I decided I would make Delon the focus of my web project and that is how the first English language website devoted to Alain Delon came to be. The website was called Alain Delon… A Tribute! and it has been off-line since 2000 but much of my old site has been archived by the fine folks at Wayback Machine for anyone who’s interested in giving it a look. Fair warning – try to ignore all the spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes if you do visit the site. If for some strange reason you don’t think I need an editor now, you soon will!

While I was putting the Alain Delon… A Tribute! site together I came in contact with the very nice Michael St Aubyn who used to run the wonderful Belles de Jour 2 site featuring information about many French actresses. Michael was kind enough to send me lots of images of Delon which I was extremely grateful for. With his help, as well as the help of other Delon fans I met online, I managed to put together a pretty decent tribute site and the first English language site devoted to Alain Delon on the world wide web.

I had fun with the Alain Delon… A Tribute! site at first. I met some great people through the site and won some web awards for my efforts. I was also contacted by Anchor Bay and ended up helping them put together some information for the American release of the wonderful Jack Cardiff film Girl on a Motorcycle (1968) which stars Alain Delon and Marianne Faithfull. I got a free copy of the film from Anchor Bay for my efforts, but it managed to get lost in the mail (at least that’s what Anchor Bay claimed . . . ).

Unfortunately, I was also contacted by a lot of nuts who assumed I was Alain Delon and they sent me some really disturbing emails. One guy in particular became extremely hard to deal with. He was clearly crazy and obsessed with Delon. He wrote bizarre notes to me as if I was Delon that were filled with sexual threats that frankly frightened me. It made me very sympathetic to the kind of horrible things celebrities must have to deal with on a regular basis. It also made me a bit weary of becoming too friendly online with strangers.

When Yahoo took over Geocities I managed to lose my password and I couldn’t recover it to access the site but to be honest I didn’t try very hard. I was tired of dealing with nutty fans so I let the Alain Delon… A Tribute! site fade into obscurity. My own appreciation for Delon has never gone away though. I still have a lot of material that I would love to get online and share with other fans.

I’d like to revamp the site for its upcoming 10 year anniversary in 2008. If you read the material I collected there you’ll find that the site has been borrowed from countless times by other film sites that are now online as well as Wikipedia, etc. Naturally I don’t own Delon, so I don’t mind that his other fans have used my original content too much but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me just a little bit to see whole paragraphs and sentences I’ve written posted online with someone else’s name and copyright slapped on them.

I’ve recently been really inspired by David Zuzelo over at Tomb It May Concern who is currently putting together the wonderful Thriller-A Cruel Picture Archives on his blog as well as Dan Taylor’s terrific Klaus Kinski Files blog. Blogs are much easier to manage than entire websites and I think creating an Alain Delon archive blog where I can share all my Delon materials might be the best way to revive Alain Delon… A Tribute! It seems silly to keep all my original Delon material to myself. If you have any ideas or suggestions about how to best share my Delon materials please feel free to drop me a note or comment below.

A few months ago I came across a music video on Youtube by the French band La Kuizine who actually used clips of my old Alain Delon… A Tribute! website in one of their music videos. My site is featured in part 03 of their 3 part musical epic called Delon En Large which includes sound clips and film clips from Delon’s many movies. I thought that was pretty darn cool myself and I actually really like La Kuizine’s experimental electronic music so I figured I’d share the bands video here.

You can watch the first two parts of La Kuizine’s Delon Et Large here.
Delon En Large, extract 01
Delon En Large, extract 02

21 thoughts on “My Love Affair With Alain Delon

  1. This is great! I love reading personal histories of people’s relationship with cultural figures that they obsess over because, as you know, there are quite a few cultural figures that *I* obsess over! Also very interesting to hear about your involvement with the Girl on a Motorcycle DVD, as that was the first Delon film that I was ever exposed to. Not only did it lead me to Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues but it exposed me to the beautiful Delon as well.

  2. Thanks for the feedback Mike! I think obsessions are really healthy, but a little awkward to share. I’m happy to know that there are others like yourself who are also interested in Delon and might enjoy all the materials I have if I put them online.

    I haven’t read any of Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues’s books yet myself and I need to remedy that since I enjoy the films I’ve seen that are based on his work. I’ve been curious about his writing for years thanks to Girl On a Motorcycle.

  3. Delon is in my top five all time favorite actors. I remember clearly the first time I saw him as a teenager in a late night showing of “Once A Thief.” I thought, and still think, that along with Elvis in his prime he was the most beautiful man ever on put on the screen.
    I’m a huge fan of his films with my favorites being the obvious choices like the Melville films (among the most perfect ever made) “Spirits Of The Dead” and “Purple Noon”
    Other lesser known ones from the seventies like “Boomerang” and “Three Men To Kill” are also among my favorites. Most recently I adored the film he made with Vanessa Paradis and Belmondo, “Half A Chance”
    I’ve of course read different stories concerning mistakes he has made but I think ultimately his flawed personal life has made his performances and screen persona all the more human.
    I’m still working on seeing all of his films, it’s still a difficult process but it’s getting easier with more and more dvd re-issues.
    I actually remember your Delon site Kimberly from years ago, at the time it was so hard to find out info on him in America so it was very exciting to find it. What a cool thing to find out now that it was your creation. I’m sorry about all the crap you had to put up with from that crazed guy. I recently had the hint of something like that on my blog that thankfully hasn’t turned into the problem you had but I can relate as to how hard that must have been for you.
    I hope you can put together an Alain blog and I salute you for attempting to spread his amazing legacy to more people. I have actually been thinking of a similar idea for a particular favorite actress of mine to go along with my blog and am trying to decide whether I should dive into it or not.
    Good luck with the new Delon blog or site if you try to do it. I can’t think of an actor more deserving or a person better suited than you to do it like it should be done.
    Thanks for another great post.

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Delon has made a lot of terrific films and it’s great that many of them are finally becoming availble in the US. I am dissapointed that Kino hasn’t continued with their Delon DVD series that they started a few years ago. I don’t speak French and trying to watch French films with no subtitles is hard to do.

    That’s very cool that you came across my old Delon site earlier. I’m not sure how I might manage another blog devoted to Delon (I feel terrible about neglecting my music blog lately!) but I’ve got lots of materials and it seems silly to have all this stuff about Delon and not share it. I have lots of scanning to do…

    Thanks again Jeremy!

  5. I’ll definitely be checking that archive. Purple Noon was also my first intro to Delon. Loved the film and loved him. He might be the only man who could make me question my sexuality. The work he did for Melville was amazing too.

  6. Have you seen ‘La Piscine’ with Delon and in a supporting role, Jane Birkin? Cinematheque here showed it a while back as part of a Romy Schneider retro.

  7. I am a big Delon fan myself and I remenber the site ALAIN DELON . A TRIBUTE – that was my favorate site! My first Delon film was ZORRO, the real,uncuted version I saw 30 years ago when I was in China. Since then, he became the most popular foreign star in China.Unfortunately,the copies
    of this movie in America or Canada was cut to less than 90 minutes,(original movie was 2 hours) and lost a lot of fun!
    Today, I saw a picture from this year’s Cannes Film Festival
    that Delon was accompanied by his beautiful daughter Anochika to attend Closing ceremony.He is old and no longer
    “the must beautiful man in the world”, but his children may
    one day will. (I think his older son Anthony is almost 45,
    he was very handson too)
    Thank you very much for create a great Web Site like Alain
    Delon A Tribute and this one!Keep up the good work!

  8. Thanks for all the nice comments everyone!

    Jesse – I’ve only seen La Piscine in French without subtitles and since I don’t speak French I had no idea what what going on. I need to see it in english soon.

    Mindy – Delon is my favorite Zorro! I’ve only seen the edited version of his Zorro film though. Hopefully it will get a full release sooner or later.

  9. I much prefer Delon when he is cast in the loner role, no doubt his looks caught the attention in his early days, but his face takes on a far more interesting aspect in films like “Monsieur Klein” & “Un Flic”, where his eye bags & look of world weary melancholy seem to bring his earlier “idol” status into sharp relief.

    I was disappointed to hear about his friendship & admiration of Jean Marie Le Pen & supposed links with the far right. Seems like he isn’t a particularly nice person if the stories about his treatment of women are to believed, no doubt his troubled upbringing has a bearing on this.

    I think Delon is best when he says next to nothing, rather like Eastwood. Beyond the obvious choices, two of my fave films of his are “Tony Arzenta” & the under rated, little seen Alain Jessua film “Traitment de Choc”, a very interesting film.

  10. Over here in England, many people would’ve been exposed to Delon through tv. During the 80s & early 90s ITV would screen french films dubbed into english, i remember they showed dubbed versions of “the samourai”, “the swimming pool”, “the gipsy”, “shock treatment”, “no problem!” & that rather poor film with catherine deneuve “the shock” amoung others. they always had the same guy doing delon’s voice, anyone whose seen a dubbed french film will recognise it instantly.

  11. Monsieur Klein in one of my favorite Delon films along with Purple Noon, Le Samourai, The Red Circle, Rocco and His Brothers, Joy House, Girl on a Motorcycle, Spirits of the Dean, Nouvelle Vague, Red Sun and Scorpio just to name a few. It seems like he always plays a loner, no matter what type of film he’s in but maybe that’s just Delon’s own personality that’s apparent in all his roles?

    His personal life is full of problems that I’m sure have something to do with his troubled childhood, which is a shame. But he also does some great charity work too so I think there is a balance somewhere to be found between the good & bad sides of Delon. Like most people, he’s far from perfect.

    I’m dying to see Traitment de Choc. That’s one Delon film I haven’t seen and I really want to and not just because of his nude scene in it either. 😉

  12. im in love with Alain Delon from when i was 12 years old .
    i wish if someone can tell me how to be in contact with him, like email him ..
    please if anyone knows to cntact me ..last time i heard of him was living in geneva .

  13. Summer of 96, the reissue of Purple noon. That’s how I fell in love with him as well! I saw a pic of him in Movieline magazine. That’s why I went out and saw Purple Noon. And like you, was completely transfixed by his beauty to the point of obsession. Also, like you I don’t think I’ll ever be as obsessed with another actor as I was with Delon. I remember going to the library (didn’t have internet at the time), and looking up everything I could about Delon, and even decided to learn French!

    The only actor to come close to matching my Delon obsession was Montgomery Clift about a year before.

  14. I’m not new to Delon, although I must say I’ve only gotten to know more about him in the past three months. The images in this year’s Cannes film festival on TV as well as “Mort D’un Pourri” played on a local channel started it. I don’t know how the process actually took place, but when I saw this man on those programs my memory took me immediately to some twenty-thirty years ago when I believe I was first exposed to him. It was probably some clips of that movie “Airport ’79” which introduced me to Delon.

    I don’t remember much about it, but somehow the image of his face has never left my memory (maybe ‘coz he’s gorgeous hahah!), even when in years after that there were probably only very few instances when it had to be recalled. When I saw him in Cannes on TV – even already grey hair and wrinkled – I just knew it was Alain Delon, even before his name was mentioned at all. Strange huh?! And for some reason I was prompted to know more about him. And so began the process of collecting his movies that are available today and the chapter in my life when I actually learn to appreciate Delon as well as French/Italian cinema more.

    Having grown accustomed to his 1970’s look (this is the image of Delon that I’ve had for so long), I found it rather shocking to watch him in his movies that were made in the 60’s. While I prefer his more mature 1970’s look, I must say this person is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful creatures ever in the entire planet. His screen presence is just amazing. When he enters a scene, no one else matters, I just want to focus on him alone. I like him best as an actor in “La Prima Notte Di Quiete”, “Un Flic”, “Deux Hommes Dans La Ville”, “Mort D’un Pourri”, “Mr. Klein”. In these movies he’s able to show the melancholic side of him, and it’s beautiful to watch.

  15. I am a long time fan of he handome actr Delon since He was young I am contenporaneum with him you right he is the most beautiful man that ever exist snce I see him in her bloosom youthfull in febles femmes one of the first movies he did and Christhine with Romy Shneider (another victim of his charm and beaty in real life) You are correct he is a narcisist but nobody can blame him he was blessed with a natural beauty and he deserve to be adored.

  16. If anyone knows the location of, or any information on the 1966 Plymouth Fury Alian Delon drove in the 1970 movie “Le Cercle Rouge” please let me know.

  17. I enjoyed reading about your discovery of Alain Delon. Mine is pretty recent, but I had to thump myself in the forehead when I realized who he was and that I have actually seen him in films like “Scorpio”, “Airport 79” and the one he made with Dean Martin. So here I am a total newbie trying to find movies that have English subtitles. So far I have found a few on eBay and Amazon. So maybe I can build a decent collection eventually. I am curious, have you ever had a chance to meet Mr. Delon? After all your hard work on a web site dedicated to him, that would be an awesome reward. Anyway, thanks for the info I have found on your site. I look forward to visiting again.

  18. A long while since this post, but I thought you may like to know that “Traitement De Choc” is available as part of a Delon boxset, otherwise I think the only other dvd release is in French with no subs. Not sure about availability in the US, but you can buy it from the uk…

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