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Entertainment News: The Passing of Claude Chabrol and Kevin McCarthy

Losing a Pair of Talented People

Above: Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter is "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers." (1956)

The last couple days saw the passing of French New Wave director Claude Chabrol and American actor Kevin McCarthy.

Kevin McCarthy passed away in a Cape Cod Hospital today. He was 96. Claude Chabrol died Sunday in Paris and was 80 years-old.

Claude Chabrol on the set.

Above: Claude Chabrol on the set.

In 1958, Chabrol was the first of the young critics at Cahiers du Cinema to make a film and launch the Nouvelle Vague or French New Wave Cinema. He’s always been a subtle stylist with a penchant for exploring relationships in a cool, detached manner. Not surprisingly, he cites Alfred Hitchcock as an influence. What's been so amazing about Chabrol and his fellow new-wavers Alain Resnais, Eric Rohmer and Jean Luc Godard is that into their senior years that have proven that cinematic audacity and daring are not limited to the young. These filmmakers have proven as sharp and innovative as they were when they were young upstarts challenging film conventions of the 60s. And it’s sad to say that many of those tired old conventions still exist but thankfully old new wavers like Chabrol was rebellious to the very end. So with that in mind, I will truly miss Chabrol's sly approach to cinema. Here's a brief snippet from his 1969 film "La Femme Infidele" starring the exquisite Stéphane Audran. Hopefully this will whet your appetitie for more of his often sublime work.

Video

Clip: La Femme Infidele

Web movie: Chabrol

Above: A clip from Claude Chabrol's "La Femme Infidele."

My favorite Kevin McCarthy film is also one of my all-time favorite sci-fi films, Don Siegel's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." The film is a truly chilling tale about an alien invasion in which the aliens replace the humans with emotionless "pod people." When the film came out in 1956 there was much debate about whether it was an indictment of Joseph McCarthy or a commentary on communism. Either way it was disturbing in its exploration of what it means to be human and what losing one's sense of identity means. Check out this classic scene from the film. McCarthy is the one warning us at the end that "They're here." And he repeats that warning at the beginning of Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake of the same name. McCarthy also starred in such cheesy delights as "Piranha," "The Howling," and "Twilight Zone: The Movie." But I will always remember him as the man trying to save humanity in "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

To lose both these men -- whose contributions to cinema were vastly different -- is indeed sad. Let's have a brief moment of silence to honor them... them break out DVDs of perhaps "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "La Femme Infidele" and celebrate their talents.

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