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Charles Boyer

Filmography

1920      

L’Homme du large 

 

1921      

Chantelouve

 

1922      

Le Grillon du foyer 

Esclave 

 

1928      

Infernal Circle

 

1929      

Captain Fracasse 

 

1930      

La Barcarolle d’amour 

Revolt in the Prison

 

1931      

The Magnificent Lie

Le Procès de Mary Dugan 

 

1932      

Tumultes

The Man from Yesterday

Red-Headed Woman 

 

1933      

La Bataille 

I.F.1 ne répond plus 

The Empress and I 

L’Épervier 

F.P.1 Doesn’t Answer 

 

1934      

The Battle 

Liliom

The Only Girl 

Caravan 

 

1935      

Le Bonheur 

Private Worlds 

Break of Hearts

Shanghai 

 

1936      

Mayerling 

The Garden of Allah

I Loved a Soldier (unfinished film) 

 

1937      

History Is Made at Night

Conquest

Tovarich 

 

1938      

Orage 

Algiers 

 

1939      

Love Affair

When Tomorrow Comes

Le Corsaire 

 

1940      

All This, and Heaven Too 

 

1941      

Back Street 

Hold Back the Dawn 

Appointment for Love 

 

1942      

Tales of Manhattan 

 

1943      

Flesh and Fantasy 

The Constant Nymph 

 

1944      

Gaslight 

Together Again

The Fighting Lady (French version only) 

 

1945      

Confidential Agent 

 

1946      

The Battle of the Rails 

Cluny Brown 

 

1948      

A Woman’s Vengeance 

Arch of Triumph 

 

1951      

The 13th Letter 

The First Legion 

 

1952      

The Happy Time

Thunder in the East 

 

1953      

The Earrings of Madame de… 

Boum sur Paris

 

1955      

The Cobweb 

Nana 

 

1956      

Lucky to Be a Woman 

Around the World in 80 Days 

Paris, Palace Hotel 

 

1957      

La Parisienne 

 

1958      

Maxime 

The Buccaneer 

 

1961      

Fanny 

Midnight Folly (fr)

 

1962      

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Adorable Julia 

 

1963      

Love Is a Ball 

 

1965      

A Very Special Favor 

 

1966      

How to Steal a Million 

Is Paris Burning? 

 

1967      

Casino Royale 

Barefoot in the Park 

 

1968      

Hot Line

 

1969      

The April Fools

The Madwoman of Chaillot 

 

1973      

Lost Horizon 

 

1974      

Stavisky 

 

1976      

A Matter of Time 

Awards

Charles Boyer never won an Oscar, though he was nominated for Best Actor four times in Conquest (1937), Algiers (1938), Gaslight (1944) and Fanny (1961).

That love at first sight should happen to me was Life’s most delicious revenge on a self-opinionated fool. ~ Charles Boyer

Charles Boyer: Learn more about him, review his filmography and more

Actors, Biographies

Charles Boyer  was born on August 28, 1899 in Figeac, Lot, France, the son of Augustine Louise Durand and Maurice Boyer, a merchant. Boyer was a shy, small town boy who discovered the movies and theatre at the age of eleven. Boyer performed comic sketches for soldiers while working as a hospital orderly during World War I. He began studies briefly at the Sorbonne, and was waiting for a chance to study acting at the Paris Conservatory. He went to the capital city to finish his education, but spent most of his time pursuing a theatrical career. In 1920, his quick memory won him a chance to replace the leading man in a stage production, and he scored an immediate hit. In the 1920s, he not only played a suave and sophisticated ladies’ man on the stage but also appeared in several silent films.

MGM signed Boyer to a contract, and he loved life in the United States, but nothing much came of his first American stay from 1929 to 1931. At first, he performed film roles only for the money and found that supporting roles were unsatisfying. However, with the coming of sound, his deep voice made him a romantic star.

His first Hollywood break came with a very small role in Jean Harlow‘s Red-Headed Woman (1932). After starring in a French adaptation of Liliom (1934), directed by Fritz Lang, he began to receive public favor; Boyer landed his first leading Hollywood role in the romantic musical Caravan (1934) with Loretta Young. Subsequently, he co-starred with Claudette Colbert in the psychiatric drama Private Worlds (1935).

Until the early 1930s, Boyer mainly continued making French films, and Mayerling, co-starring Danielle Darrieux in 1936, made him an international star. This was followed by Orage (1938), opposite Michèle Morgan. The off-screen Boyer was bookish and private, far removed from the Hollywood high life. But onscreen he made audiences swoon as he romanced Katharine Hepburn in Break of Hearts (1935), Marlene Dietrich in his first Technicolor film, The Garden of Allah (1936), Jean Arthur in History Is Made at Night (1937), Greta Garbo in Conquest (1937), and Irene Dunne in Love Affair (1939).

In 1938, he landed his famous role as Pepe le Moko, the thief on the run in Algiers, an English-language remake of the classic French film Pepe le Moko with Jean Gabin. Although in the movie Boyer never said to costar Hedy Lamarr “Come with me to the Casbah,” this line was in the movie trailer. The line would stick with him, thanks to generations of impressionists and Looney Tunes parodies

Boyer played in three love stories: All This, and Heaven Too (1940) with Bette Davis; as the ruthless cad in Back Street (1941) with Margaret Sullavan; and Hold Back the Dawn (1941) with Olivia de Havilland and Paulette Goddard.

 

In 1943, he was awarded an Honorary Oscar Certificate for “progressive cultural achievement” in establishing the French Research Foundation in Los Angeles as a source of reference (certificate). Boyer never won an Oscar, though he was nominated for Best Actor four times in Conquest (1937), Algiers (1938), Gaslight (1944) and Fanny (1961), the latter also winning him a nomination for the Laurel Awards for Top Male Dramatic Performance. He is particularly well known for Gaslight in which he played a thief/murderer who tries to convince his newlywed wife that she is going insane.

When another film with Bergman, Arch of Triumph (1948), failed at the box office, he started looking for character parts. Apart from leads in several French films such as Max Ophüls’ The Earrings of Madame de… (1953, again with Danielle Darrieux) and Nana (1955, opposite Martine Carol), he also moved into television as one of the pioneering producers and stars of Four Star Theatre; Four Star Productions would make him and partners David Niven and Dick Powell rich. In 1956, Boyer was a guest star on I Love Lucy.

Onscreen, he continued in older roles: in Fanny (1961) starring Leslie Caron; Barefoot in the Park (1967) with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda; and the French film Stavisky (1974, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo)

Later in life, he turned to character roles in such films as: Around the World in 80 Days (1956), How to Steal a Million (1966, featuring Audrey Hepburn), Is Paris Burning? (1966), and Casino Royale (1967). He had a notable part as a corrupt city official in the 1969 film version of The Madwoman of Chaillot, featuring Katharine Hepburn. His last major film role in Hollywood was that of the High Lama in a poorly received musical version of Lost Horizon (1973). A year later, he gave a final outstanding performance in his native language as Baron Raoul in Alain Resnais’s Stavisky (1974)

Boyer was the husband of British actress Pat Paterson, whom he met at a dinner party in 1934. The two became engaged after two weeks of courtship and were married three months later. Later, they would move from Hollywood to Paradise Valley, Arizona. The marriage lasted 44 years until her death. Boyer became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1942.

Boyer’s only child, Michael Charles Boyer (December 9,1943 – September 21, 1965), committed suicide at age 21. He was playing Russian roulette after separating from his girlfriend. On August 26, 1978, two days after his wife’s death from cancer, and two days before his own 79th birthday, Boyer committed suicide with an overdose of Seconal while at a friend’s home in Scottsdale. He was taken to the hospital in Phoenix, where he died. He was interred in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, alongside his wife and son.

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Charles Boyer: The Reluctant Lover