Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Star dialogue: Henri Jeanson, Louis Jouvet and the mise en scène and mise en corps of film dialogue

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sarah Leahy



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a book chapter that has been published in its final definitive form by Peter Lang, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Henri Jeanson, one of the foremost writers for the classic French cinema wrote for over 80 films between 1933 and 1970, and is best known for his talent for the mot d’auteur. He is responsible for hundreds of the best-known lines in French film history, including Arletty’s ‘Atmosphère, atmosphère? Est-ce-que j’ai une gueule d’atmosphère? (Hôtel du nord [Carné, 1938]). From the very early days of his cinematic career, Jeanson became known as a dialogue specialist who wrote with particular actors in mind. In the best of Jeanson’s films, the charisma of the word is matched by the actor’s delivery in such a way that the performance of the dialogue in certain key scenes becomes the main focus of the mise en scène. Jeanson’s acteur fétiche was his friend Louis Jouvet, monstre sacré of French stage and screen with whom he collaborated on ten films, including Hôtel du nord and Lady Paname (1951), Jeanson’s only directorial venture. Jouvet brought an idiosyncratic performance style – and diction - to his cinematic roles which made him the perfect interpreter of Jeanson’s lines. Indeed, Jean-Paul Lacroix, journalist and Jeanson’s protégé at the Canard enchaîné, remarked that Jouvet ‘spoke as Jeanson wrote, starting a new paragraph every four words (Chateau 2000, 7). This chapter argues that, thanks to this perfect coincidence, Jouvet’s voice pronouncing Jeanson’s words offers a particular example of what Roland Barthes refers to as the ‘grain’ of the voice, ‘the body of the voice that sings, of the hand that writes, of the limb that executes’ (Barthes 1972). Through an examination of the mise en scène and mise en corps by Jouvet of Jeanson’s dialogue, we will consider the relationship between author (‘the hand that writes’) and actor (‘the body in the voice that sings’ and ‘the limb that executes’), and the role of star persona as mediator between author, actor and audience.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Leahy S

Editor(s): Abecassis M; Block M; Ledegen G; Peñalver Vicea M

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Le Grain de la voix dans le monde anglophone et francophone

Year: 2019

Pages: 73-111

Online publication date: 01/05/2019

Acceptance date: 10/10/2017

Series Title: Modern French Identities

Publisher: Peter Lang

Place Published: Bern

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781788741095