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Yves Robert, 81; French Film Actor and Director

From Associated Press

Yves Robert, a film director, actor, writer and producer who made intelligent, crowd-pleasing comedies and lighthearted films, died Friday at his home in Paris. He was 81.

Robert appeared in dozens of movies, often in small roles, from orchestra conductor to bartender to defense lawyer. After turning his focus to directing, he made 23 films, a few of which were remade in Hollywood.

One of Robert’s best-known movies is “Le Grand Blond Avec Une Chaussure Noire,” (“The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe”), a 1972 spoof on espionage films in which an unwitting absent-minded violinist gets mistaken for a spy. Tom Hanks starred in a 1985 American remake, “The Man With One Red Shoe.”

Robert also made two films based on Marcel Pagnol’s novels: “La Gloire de Mon Pere” (“My Father’s Glory”) and “Le Chateau de Ma Mere” (“My Mother’s Castle.”) The 1990 films trace the adventures of a boy and his family during summer holidays in sun-soaked Provence.

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Robert said he felt a link with Pagnol because of his own happy childhood. “As a little boy, I was dazzled with happiness, dazzled with life,” Robert once said.

Actors who starred in Robert’s films called him fun-loving, supportive and hard-working.

“He fine-tuned things, he perfected things. He was really a man with a passion,” actor Jean Rochefort told France-Info radio.

Pierre Richard, who appeared in several of Robert’s movies, said the director was “extraordinary with actors, because he was one himself.”

“He was very attentive to actors, very concerned about their well-being and their enjoyment,” Richard told LCI television. “He only gave good advice.”

Born in 1920 in the Loire Valley city of Saumur, Robert started his acting career with a theater troupe in Lyon. After appearing in a few movies, he soon tried directing.

His first hit was 1961’s “La Guerre des Boutons” (“War of the Buttons”), about a conflict between schoolchildren in two villages.

Another successful film was “Un Elephant Ca Trompe Enormement” (“An Elephant Can Be Extremely Deceptive”)--a comedy about a married man who falls for a mysterious woman dressed in red. Gene Wilder remade the movie in the United States as “The Woman in Red.”

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The director made his last movie, “Montparnasse-Pondichery,” in 1993 and occasionally took on small acting roles after that.

Robert’s funeral will be Wednesday at St.-Germain-des-Pres church in Paris, according to Productions de la Gueville, the production company he founded with his wife, actress Daniele Delorme.


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