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French film director Philippe de Broca dies

PARIS, Nov 27 (AFP) - French filmmaker Philippe de Broca, a master of costume drama and sparkling comedy whose works include "King of Hearts" and "That Man from Rio", died near Paris on Friday aged 71, according to a close aide.

The cause of death was not announced but the newspaper Le Parisien reported that de Broca had died of cancer in the American hospital in a western Paris suburb.

He had been in poor health for some time and was unable to promote his final film, "Vipere Au Poing" (Viper in the Fist) which made its debut on cinema screens here last month.

French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres paid homage to the director whom he called a "creator of multiple talents".

And the former action star Jean-Paul Belmondo, who starred in several of de Broca's films, told Le Parisien that he was "completely shattered" by the director's death.

"We laughed a lot together, and enjoyed lots of craziness, because for us everything was en excuse to play jokes," he said.

De Broca worked as an assistant director for Claude Chabrol and Francois Truffaut before he started making films himself, often appearing in walk-on parts, including in Truffaut's seminal "A Bout de Souffle".

His own films were often comedies or costume dramas. He once said that above all he loved to make people laugh.

He worked with a galaxy of French stars including Belmondo, who appeared in six of his films, Yves Montand and Catherine Deneuve.

British film star Alan Bates starred in the 1966 "King of Hearts", an art house cult favourite about a World War I British soldier and the insanity of modern warfare.

A young Catherine Zeta-Jones got her first film break in the lead role of De Broca's 1990 "Scheherazade" (1001 Nights), remembered mainly these days for the nude scenes.

Perhaps his most well-loved film in France is "Cartouche" (1961) a swashbuckling spoof starring Belmondo and Claudia Cardinale.

Born in Paris on March 15, 1933 to a well-to-do family, Philippe de Broca de Ferrussac went to film school and did his national service in Algeria in the army's film section.

He later worked as an assistant to some of the most prominent French nouvelle vague directors including Henri Decoin, Truffaut and Chabrol, who would finance his early films.

He began his own film-making career with the sparkling comedy "Les Jeux de l'amour" in 1959.

After Cartouche, the 1963 hit "L'Homme de Rio" ("That Man From Rio") also starring Belmondo, cemented his reputation at home and helped launch him into the international sphere.

In recent years most of his work was for television.

A member of France's Legion of Honour, de Broca was the father of two children.


Subject: French News

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