Alain Delon: France’s 1960s screen sex symbol

Sundays in April

  • Alain Delon: France’s 1960s screen sex symbol
  • Annabelle Fitzherbert
  • April 3, 2017

A French icon and giant of the silver screen, the magnetic Alain Delon was one of the most prominent French actors of the post-war era. Oozing sex appeal, the exotically handsome performer sprung from off-screen scandal to emerge as a uniquely enigmatic talent.

From the early 60s to the mid 80s, Alain Delon was the highest paid actor in France, dominating France’s international box office. The ex-marine, now 70 years old, has starred in more than 60 movies, along-side many other famous co-stars including Romy Schneider (with whom he had a 5 year relationship), Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Gabin, just to name a few.

Two films catapulted the young Delon onto the international stage:

Purple Noon
In 1960, Delon appeared in René Clément’s Purple Noon, a film based on Patricia Highsmith’s iconic novel, The Talented Mr Ripley. A young 25 year old Delon stars as protagonist Tom Ripley, a man who is just learning that he can get away with almost anything. Lauded by the critics, the movie made Delon an overnight sensation as well as a modern day matinée idol. But aside from his physique, the actor also displays great skill as the young villain, combining seduction and brutal amorality.

Le Samouraï
Le Samouraï marks Delon’s first collaboration with master filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville. Le Samouraï tells the story of Jef Costello, a contract killer who lives by his own version of the strict code of the Bushido, the Japanese “way of the warrior”. The dark tale established a new epitome of cool, thanks to Delon’s chain-smoking, hat-wearing, ice-cold character.

And so a star was born.

Since then, Delon has achieved critical acclaim for roles in films such as Rocco and His Brothers (1960), L’Eclisse (1962), The Leopard (1963), Lost Command (1966) amongst many others.

This month, we’ve picked five of Delon’s movie greats, including Two Men In Town, Three Men To Kill, The Gang, Flic Story and Death Of A Corrupt Man. Our Alain Delon movie season starts Sunday 2 April, visit

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