Books Grand illusion
|Name Charles Spaak|
|Born 25 May 1903
Brussels, Belgium (1903-05-25) |
Died March 4, 1975, Vence, France
Spouse Janine Spaak (m. ?–1975), Claude Marcy
Children Catherine Spaak, Agnes Spaak
Movies The Grand Illusion, Carnival in Flanders, Therese Raquin, The End of the Day, Le Grand Jeu
Similar People Agnes Spaak, Catherine Spaak, Paul‑Henri Spaak, Andre Cayatte, Jacques Feyder
Agnes Spaak Images / Le Rêve dans le Rêve
Charles Spaak (25 May 1903 – 4 March 1975) was a Belgian screenwriter who was noted particularly for his work in the French cinema during the 1930s. He was the son of the dramatist and poet Paul Spaak, the brother of the politician Paul-Henri Spaak, and the father of the actresses Catherine Spaak and Agnès Spaak.
Charles Spaak was born in Brussels in 1903 into a prominent Belgian family. In 1928 he moved to Paris and took a post as secretary to the film-maker Jacques Feyder, who then asked him to work on the adaptation of a stage play for his film Les Nouveaux Messieurs. He also worked as head of publicity for the production company Albatros. He went on to write the screenplays for Feyder's most important films of the 1930s: Le Grand Jeu, Pension Mimosas, and La Kermesse héroïque. Spaak was also in demand to work with other leading directors. During the 1930s he worked with Julien Duvivier on La Bandera (1935) and La Belle Équipe (1936), and with Jean Grémillon on La Petite Lise (1930) and Gueule d'amour (1937). He also collaborated with Jean Renoir on two of his major films, Les Bas Fonds (1936) and La Grande Illusion (1937).
Many of these films of the 1930s are marked by a concern for realistic detail with sharply written dialogue, often pessimistic in tone, and several of them provided leading roles which were played by Jean Gabin. He established himself, alongside Jacques Prévert and Henri Jeanson, as a leading screenwriter during one of the French cinema's richest periods.
During the German occupation of France, Spaak chose to return to Paris and found work on a number of the wartime productions that were made there, including further films with Duvivier and Grémillon. (In Bertrand Tavernier's film Laissez-passer (2001) which gives a detailed picture of how film-making continued in occupied Paris, Spaak is portrayed in 1943 when he was working on a film for the Continental Films production company.)
After the war Spaak worked with new directors and in a wider range styles, and he formed a particular association with André Cayatte in a series of films set against a background of the French judicial system: Justice est faite (1950), Nous sommes tous les assassins (1951), Avant le deluge (1953), and Le Dossier noir (1955). He also undertook some of the literary adaptations which marked the 'quality cinema' of the 1950s, including Thérèse Raquin (1953) and Crime et Châtiment (1956).
In 1949 Spaak made his only venture into directing with Le Mystère Barton, but the film met with little success.
Charles Spaak continued working selectively on scenarios until the early 1970s, and he died in 1975 in Vence in the South of France.
Selective list of screenplays
Charles Spaak wrote or contributed to more than 100 film screenplays, including the following: