Popular star if ever there is one, the one nicknamed “l’As des As” has regularly dominated the ranking of entries in France. Even if his biggest success actually dates from … 1969!
A national tribute will be paid tomorrow to the Invalides in Jean-Paul Belmondo. Proof that the movie star was an eminently popular actor, in the broad sense. Of those who mark all generations, cross eras, genres, and reign over the Box office … or almost.
It was at the age of 24 that the former Parisian boxer made his debut in front of the camera, after a stint on the boards and through the conservatory. First appearance and first success in theaters: in 1957, On foot, on horseback and by car, by Maurice Delbez, where he plays only a small role, attracts 3.48 million spectators. The beginning of a love affair with the public, which will come to light in the 1960s.
5 little-known films with Jean-Paul Belmondo to rediscover
The great classic of Godard, Out of breathe, which will reveal it to the whole world, will gather 2.2 million admirers in 1960. Continuing the shootings, Jean-Paul Belmondo hit the following year in Cartridge, by Philippe De Broca, seen by 3.61 million French people. With the same director, he had two other very big hits: Rio man and its 4.8 million spectators in 1963, followed by The tribulations of a Chinese in China with 2.701 million admissions in 1965.
Icon of the decade, Jean-Paul Belmondo concludes it in style. Like a symbol, in 1969, he made his biggest hit at the Box Office thanks to Gérard Oury’s film: The brain. Alongside Bourvil and David Niven, Bébel attracts more than 5.54 million fans in theaters. His record.
Back to Le Doulos, Jean-Paul Belmondo at the peak of his career
If his face to face with Alain Delon in Borsalino (in 1970), by Jacques Deray, was also a great popular success with 4.710 million admissions, the 70’s were less prosperous for the actor, who, in roles of hard-skinned cop, when regularly passed the bar of 3.5 million spectators (with Fear over the City in 1974 and Cops and robbers in 1979).
Entering the 1980s, Jean-Paul is at the top of the Bébel effect and has three huge hits: the professional by Georges Lautner allows the star to once again exceed 5 million admissions (in 1981). The following year, he does even better with The Ace of Aces. And in 1983, finding Jacques Deray for The misfit, Belmondo peaks at 4.95 million fans. He will never find such scores at the Box Office again. After the very warm welcome from Itinerary of a spoiled child in 1988 – which earned him his one and only César for Best Actor (which he refused to come and get), as well as 3.3 million tickets to theaters – Jean-Paul Belmondo is becoming rarer. Turning much less, it will pass the million-spectator mark one last time, with 1 in 2 chance by Patrice Leconte in 1997. Ten years later, his very last role, A man and his dog, in front of Francis Huster’s camera, will barely make 200,000 admissions.
Death of Jean-Paul Belmondo: the last film he never made
Despite its enormous popularity and its spectacular and varied filmography, Jean-Paul Belmondo will have exceeded only three times the mark of 5 million spectators in 80 films and will have dominated the Box office only four times (in 1969, 1975, 1977 and 1982). Still, in cumulative audience, his record is extraordinarily impressive: nearly 160 million French spectators went to see Jean-Paul Belmondo in a movie theater. This is what we call a legend.