Leave it to the French to produce a movie star who didn’t look like a movie star. (But note those eyes.)
Having said that, we should hastily add that the guy pictured above — Jean Gabin — is France’s biggest movie star ever. Before you shrug your shoulders, you should appreciate that Gabin once gave Hollywood a try. And he failed miserably.
The whys and wherefores of this curious paradox are part of the point of today’s Quiz, which firmly takes the position that you should know more about this pivotal international star that perhaps you do.
Rarely has a movie screen anywhere framed a male star of such authority, who successfully played a range of roles from song and dance man to hardened desperado. He always displayed a touch of the common man. And there’s a case to made that Gabin out-Cagneyed Cagney and made Bogart look like a boy scout.
Forget those other Frenchmen of long Hollywood careers, Charles Boyer and Maurice Chevalier — as, unfortunately, too many classic movie fans have — and concentrate on getting to know more about Jean Gabin. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow.
1) Question: Gabin may have been the hardest working French actor ever, appearing in some 100 movies. How many of them were made in Hollywood? a) 15; b) 2; c) 23; or d) 9.
2) Question: There is a convoluted personal link between Clint Eastwood and Gabin. What is it? a) They share a religion, Roman Catholicism; b) Italian director Sergeo Leone, whose spaghetti westerns made Eastwood an international star, worshiped Gabin as an actor; c) Both Eastwood and Gabin endured tangled private lives; or d) Both made a fortune from their movies.
3) Question: Which one of the following Hollywood producers convinced Gabin to move from Paris to Hollywood? a) David O. Selznick; b) Darryl Zanuck; c) Walter Wanger; or d) Harry Cohn.
4) Question: References to which one of the following Hollywood stars were used to promote Gabin to American moviegoers? a) Clark Gable; b) Humphrey Bogart; c) Spencer Tracy or d) Wallace Beery.
5) Question: One of Gabin’s best French films was remade in English in Hollywood with which one of the following starred? a) Dana Andrews; b) Henry Fonda; c) John Wayne; or d) George Raft.
6) Question: Fellow Frenchman Charles Boyer took over the leading role 1938’s Hollywood remake of a French classic that starred Gabin. Why didn’t Gabin take the part in the Hollywood version? a) The money wasn’t enough; b) He was still in France and not yet settled in Hollywood; c) His English wasn’t up to snuff; or d) Gabin was bored with the part.
7) Question: Which one of the following actresses did NOT costar in a Jean Gabin film? a) Ida Lupino; b) Michele Morgan; c) Simone Simon; or d) Olivia DeHavilland.
8) Question: Why did Gabin come to Hollywood, anyway? a) He needed the money; b) He needed a break from his tangled marital life; c) He wanted to brush up on his English; or d) He wanted to be far from Paris during the Nazi occupation.
9) Question: One of America’s best film noir actors had a small role in Gabin’s second Hollywood film. Who is he? a) Charles McGraw; b) Sydney Greenstreet; c) Robert Ryan; or d) Alan Ladd.
10) Question: Which one of the following may have had her most passionate love affair with Jean Gabin? a) Hedy Lamarr; b) Marlene Dietrich; c) Lana Turner; or d) Esther Williams.