You See, I Haven't Forgotten
Knopf, 1992 - 465 pages
Yves Montand was one of our century's greatest entertainers - consummate music-hall performer, singer, dancer, star of stage and screen. His extraordinary life story is captivatingly told for the first time in this unusual book - part memoir, part biography - a unique collaboration between Montand and two writers. Born to Italian Communist peasants who fled Mussolini's Italy, Montand grew up in the seething port city of Marseilles, where he worked in his sister's hairdressing salon and dreamed of the movies. By the age of seventeen he had sung his first song in a music hall. The rest is the stuff of legend, re-created here in fascinating and vivid detail: the fantastic successes on the Riviera; the endless, obsessive rehearsals to refine every aspect of his performances; the wartime crises during the German Occupation; Montand's triumphant conquest of Paris, as the city opened its arms to the "singing prole" from the Midi whose every appearance was a glamorous, sold-out event. Adding to the legend, of course, were his engrossing liaison with Edith Piaf and his introduction to the luminaries of Parisian cultural life, including Jacques Prevert, Marcel Carne, Pablo Picasso, and dozens more. By the time of his brutally affective starring performance in Henri-Georges Clouzot's chilling The Wages of Fear, he had achieved unimaginable celebrity and was married to the charismatic Simone Signoret. The story of the intense but sometimes turbulent love between these two magnetic, highly competitive, and extremely political artists is a central part of the book. Despite his limitless success in France, Montand had longed from the start to go to Hollywood, and perhaps the most riveting chapters ofhis life story focus on his coming to America to make movies. The description of his rehearsals and eventual love affair with Marilyn Monroe is, of course, required reading, but there is much more - Montand's perfectionist dedication to every aspect of filmmaking; his friendship with Arthur Miller and other writers; his fascination with American politics; and his frank views on Hollywood stars, roles, and movies.
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