Daniel Gélin on Jean-Luc Godard
Daniel Gélin,an important star of French cinema in the 1950s, is best known in the USA for playing the role of the Frenchman who, in dying, whispered testimony to James Stewart which triggers the intrigues of Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. In his memoirs, A Batons Rompus ("of this and that"), Gélin writes about his sometimes rocky relationship with the directors of the New Wave. While he did work with Pierre Kast and Claude Chabrol, he never worked with François Truffaut or Jean-Luc Godard. And although he demonstrates some difference with them, he makes it clear that he regrets that he never got that chance. He tells this story about Godard. (page 299, my translation).
I, also, would have loved to work with [Jean-Luc] Godard. Of all of them, he is the one who exasperates me the most because of his conventionality and non-conformism. But, at the same time, he attracts me because I would like to know how he makes and breaks a film.
One day, a technician who had worked with him recounted to me this anecdote which took place in Switzerland on the banks of a lake. On the first day of filming, work had to be started, but no one knew how or with what to begin. talk was going on and no one wanted to begin. Not one of them wanted to "take the plunge" as they say in the business. At long last, Godard said, "No one wants to take the plunge. Oh, well, me I'll have to do it". And, fully dressed, he jumped into the lake. For no other reason than this anecdote, I wanted to work with him. I would loved to have matched wits with a guy capable of doing thus.