February 24, 2005

RIP: Simone Simon

simone simon

Goodnight sweet Simone Simon, dark-eyed French cinema ingénue of the late ‘30s and '40s. There was more to you than your role in The Cat People, Cinecultist knows. Paper of record, our ass! Doesn’t the obits writer for the freakin' NYT know how to use Imdb.com? Simon also starred opposite Jean Gabin (aka The Man) in Jean Renoir’s commercial smash and Cahiers du Cinema fave, La Bête Humaine, an adaptation of the Emile Zola novel.

We know its super film geeky to get upset about this sort of over sight. Really, it could happen to any writer not abreast in Jonathan Rosenbaum’s 1000 Essential Films or familiar with the collected reviews of François Truffaut. But a masters in cinema studies does this to you – that needling feeling when you read about something film history related and you’re pretty sure there’s some essential factoid missing. It’s like a mental vegetable fiber caught between two molars. A bit of poking around on the internet yields the information that was on the tip of your brain and then there’s the realization you knew something that a New York Times writer plus their fact checking team didn’t know. It’s a heady emotion. Sure, it’s a schoolyard “nyah-nyah” feeling but a powerful one nonetheless.

Anyhow, to live to be 93 like Simon did is a good ripe age, worthy of a silent film geek salute. Is that a hand on the hip, a cocked chin and two fingers or three from the forehead, do you think?

Related: Essay about Jean Renoir from Sense of Cinema, our favorite online source for in depth film crit and history. And the Literature/Film Quarterly article "Colliding with history in La Bete Humaine: Reading Renoir's Cinecriture." [link warning: heavy on the lit criticism, not for the faint of heart]

Posted by karen at February 24, 2005 8:13 AM