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.
Fast 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.