Vol XXVII   NO. 253      Sunday      28 November 2004

French director Broca dies

PARIS: 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 aged 71, according to a close aide.

The newspaper Le Parisien reported that de Broca had died of cancer in the American hospital in a western Paris suburb on Friday.

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 an 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.

He worked with a galaxy of French stars including Belmondo, Yves Montand and Catherine Deneuve.

British film star Alan Bates starred in the 1966 King of Hearts.

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, a swashbuckling spoof starring Belmondo and Claudia Cardinale.

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