Throughout the sixties and beyond, and today, still, you could ask many a woman (man?) from Tehran to Trieste or Tucson who their favorite on-screen male heartthrob was and, chances are they would’ve told you, with misty eyes, Alain Delon. The slightly-gloomy actor with killer eyes from France made an impression on many a film viewer, too. Delon has appeared in some of cinema’s greatest opuses.
This year, the Cannes Festival is celebrating Alain Delon with the greatest prize of them all, an honorary Palme. The actor is 84.
Delon is in good company. Some of the personalities upon whom this honor was bestowed are Jeanne Moreau, Woody Allen, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jane Fonda, Clint Eastwood, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Manoel de Oliveira, recently departed Agnès Varda and Jean-Pierre Léaud. Delon starred, among others, in Luchino Visconti’s “The Leopard,” a film which earned the Palme d’or in 1963.
“Pierre Lescure and I are delighted that Alain Delon has accepted to be honored by the Festival,” Thierry Frémaux, who runs programming for the festival, commented in a press release. “He hesitated for a long time, having long been reluctant [to receive this] this Palme d’or because he thought he should only come to Cannes to celebrate the directors he has been working with.”
In Japan, where he is revered, Delon is known as the Spring Samurai. The actor who starred in Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Le Cercle Rouge” in 1970 has more than eighty films under his belt. An honorary award to crown a very worthy body of work could not have come soon enough.