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Henri Verneuil's popular cinema at MoMI

Image: "Peur sur la ville" directed by Henri Verneuil

The Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) presents a special film series casting light on French filmmaker Henri Verneuil: "Verneuil Populaire: Vintage Thrillers from France's Genre Maestro". 

Born in Turkey to Armenian parents, Henri Verneuil (born Ashot Malakian) came to define a certain kind of Frenchness in popular cinema. His films were reviled by the artistic aristocracy (cinephiles, critics and especially those riding the New Wave) but were beloved of the French public. Verneuil championed the grounded working classes, the individualistic pride of his characters and their joyous disrespect for established authority.

In the latter half of his career he pursued a deliberately low-brow, “American” action sensibility, directing vehicles principally for Jean-Paul Belmondo and his intoxicating brand of picaresque stunt work. Yet, with the help of caramelized dialogues by the legendary Michel Audiard these films retain a delicious irreverence and a quintessentially French character which may have contributed to their being little seen in the United States, despite momentous domestic box office receipts. From his early, black and white existential provincial comedies starring Fernandel and Jean Gabin, and his later color thrillers decrying plutocratic greed and the nefarious activities of multinational corporations, Verneuil was either reflecting the life of the man on the street, or serving him his Saturday night entertainment. Verneuil’s genre films endure as a testament to his artistry, his passion for men over money, and the enormous pride he took – despite so many telling him he wasn’t – in being French.


Screenings

The Sicilian Clan / Le clan des Siciliens  
Directed by Henri Verneuil
Year: 1969
Runtime: 121 mins
> Friday, July 26 – 7:00pm

A Monkey in Winter / Un singe en hiver  
Directed by Henri Verneuil
Year: 1962
Runtime: 105 mins
> Saturday, July 27 – 1:30pm

Greed In The Sun / 100 mille dollars au soleil 
Directed by Henri Verneuil
Year: 1964
Runtime: 130 mins
> Saturday, July 27 – 3:30pm

Any Number Can Win / Mélodie en sous-sol
Directed by Henri Verneuil
Year: 1963
Runtime: 118 mins
> Saturday, July 27 – 6:30pm

The Burglars / Le casse  
Directed by Henri Verneuil
Year: 1971
Runtime: 120 mins
> Sunday, July 28 – 4:30pm

Fear Over The City / Peur sur la ville  
Directed by Henri Verneuil
Year: 1975
Runtime: 91 mins
> Sunday, July 28 – 7:00pm

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