René Clément

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René Clément
Clément in 1995
Born(1913-03-18)18 March 1913
Bordeaux, France
Died17 March 1996(1996-03-17) (aged 82)
AwardsBest Director Award (Cannes Film Festival)
1946 The Battle of the Rails
1949 Beyond the Gates
Golden Lion
1952 Forbidden Games

René Clément (French: [ʁəne klemɑ̃]; 18 March 1913 – 17 March 1996) was a French film director and screenwriter. He is known for directing the films The Battle of the Rails (1946), Forbidden Games (1952), Gervaise (1956), Purple Noon (1960), and Is Paris Burning (1966). He received numerous accolades including five prizes at the Cannes Film Festival and the Honorary César in 1984.

Early life[edit]

Clément studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts where he developed an interest in filmmaking. In 1936, he directed his first film, a 20-minute short written by and featuring Jacques Tati. Clément spent the latter part of the 1930s making documentaries in parts of the Middle East and Africa. In 1937, he and archaeologist Jules Barthou were in Yemen making preparations to film a documentary, the first ever of that country and one that includes the only known film image of Imam Yahya.


Almost ten years passed before Clément directed a feature but his French Resistance film, La Bataille du rail (1945), gained much critical and commercial success. From there Clément became one of his country's most successful and respected directors, garnering numerous awards including two films that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the first in 1950 for The Walls of Malapaga (Au-delà des grilles) and the second time two years later for Forbidden Games (Jeux interdits). Clément had international success with several films but his star-studded 1966 epic Is Paris Burning?, written by Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Paul Graetz was a costly box office failure.

He began directing Play Dirty (a.k.a. Written in the Sand) but quit early in production due to disputes with the film's producer Harry Saltzman.[1] He directed the thriller Joy House (1964) with Jane Fonda and Alain Delon.

In May 2023 On Watch What Happens Live! with Andy Cohen, Fonda alleged that Clément sexually harassed her during the film's production telling her that the film involved a love scene and that she needed to sleep with him so that he could judge her orgasm. During the production he was 51 and she was 27.[2]

In 1973 he was a member of the jury at the 8th Moscow International Film Festival.[3] Clément continued to make a few films until his retirement in 1975, including an international success with Rider on the Rain that starred Charles Bronson and Marlène Jobert. In 1984 the French motion picture industry honored his lifetime contribution to film with a special César Award.

Personal life[edit]

Clément's second wife was Irish screenwriter Johanna Harwood whom he had met on the set of his 1954 film Monsieur Ripois.[4]


Clément died on 17 March 1996, a day before his 83rd birthday and was buried in the local cemetery in Menton on the French Riviera where he had spent his years in retirement.




  • Plein soleil (1960) – Le serveur maladroit (uncredited)
  • The Joy of Living (1963) – French General
  • Yoroppa tokkyu (1984) – (final film role)



  1. ^ "Play Dirty". Filmfacts. 12: 90.
  2. ^ "Jane Fonda Plays Plead The Fifth WWHL". Youtube. Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  3. ^ "8th Moscow International Film Festival (1973)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  4. ^ Field, Matthew (2012). "Johanna Harwood Interview". Movie Classics: A Cinema Retro Special Edition Magazine (4). Solo Publishing.

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