Yves Montand was an actor and a singer known for his roles in such films as "Le Casque D'Or", "The Wages of Fear", "Let's make Love", "Jean de ...Show synopsisYves Montand was an actor and a singer known for his roles in such films as "Le Casque D'Or", "The Wages of Fear", "Let's make Love", "Jean de Florette" and "Manon des Sources". He was romantically involved with Edith Piaf (who first encouraged him to sing), with Marilyn Monroe, and - most significantly - with Simone Signoret. He was a fervent Communist who renounced his allegiance to the party in 1968, and he later became an unofficial ambassador for France, meeting leaders from all over the world. He died in 1991 and his story draws together figures as diverse as Kruschev, Vaclav Havel, Gerard Depardieu and Arthur Miller.Hide synopsis
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This book wears two hats - one of biography and the other of political history, which disappoints because the mix is like oil and water. Yves Montand, as can be assessed by the hours of tapes transcribed here, is a splendid subject of interest, his life one of family fights, changing beliefs, talent and love. Married to Simone Signoret from 1951 until her death in 1985, he led the field in stage entertainment in France and later, in film. Certainly he was a political animal post World War II, espousing the Communist credo with confidence, and later gradually weaning himself away from it when the Stalin purges and Soviet invasions into Eastern European countries became known, but the co-authors' output on these matters throws off the balance in the work. We get descriptions of friends, and friends of friends on the political front, whereas his relationship with Signoret (the ballast in his life) is sometimes shunted to the side. For instance, her sojourn in London during the making of "Room At The Top" and the subsequent Oscar is a matter of a couple of paragraphs, and towards the end of the book when she is still alive, she is hardly mentioned at all, although Montand's radio speeches certainly are - with gusto. Her subsequent death, although well-written, is covered in a few words - just a precis really.
What is excellent is the account of Montand's affair with Marilyn Monroe in the 1960s, for it seems he is finally speaking about it. This gripping and touching account, with Signoret's forbearance and pain described austerely and economically, is the highlight of the book.
Montand's relationship with Carole Amiel in the last stages of Signoret's life, and later his marriage to her, is delicately done, with simply a by-line for Valentin, his son by the union.
The authors obviously had a liking and compassion for their subject, but if they had reined in their over-interest in politics, it would have been meatier on the biography side.
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