Cold-blooded killer and sex symbol: The cult roles of Alain Delon | Film | DW | 06.11.2015
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Cold-blooded killer and sex symbol: The cult roles of Alain Delon

The handsome French actor Alain Delon is one of the big stars of European cinema. He played in many memorable films in the 1960s, and made headlines with his private life, too. He turns 80 on November 8.

Cult imagery of film history definitely include Chaplin's Tramp, James Dean's utter cool, Marilyn Monroe's swirling white dress - and Alain Delon's performance as hit man Jeff Costello in the 1967 movie, "The Samourai."

Delon's motionless face, fixed gaze, meticulous appearance and total arrogance in the movie is simply unforgettable.

"The Swimming Pool" is another movie you're not likely to forget, with Delon and Romy Schneider lounging naked by the pool.

Beauty and elegance

The breathtakingly handsome Delon later starred in several more or less memorable gangster movies. Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Michel Piccoli - at the time, they were the biggest stars in French cinema.

In 1973, Alain Delon once again played a hit man, this time in a Hollywood production, Michael Winner's film "Scorpio," which is one of the few exceptions in his more or less French portfolio.

Romy Schneider, Alain Delon, Copyright: Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Delon and his lovely German fiancee Romy Schneider

While Hollywood seemed to hold little allure for the French actor, his personal life, his affairs and marriages were of great interest to the public. He was engaged to actress Romy Schneider at the beginning of the 60s.

Rumors about shady friends

When his bodyguard was found dead in a public dump in 1968, Delon was suspected of being involved in the murder. The scandal shook entire France. The case was dropped and never solved, and since then rumors surrounding his connections with the mafia still circulate.

He cemented his reputation of having dubious friends by publicly standing by his friendship with French rightwing populist Jean-Marie Le Pen - yet it never really hurt his career.

Julius Caesar in "Asterix at the Olympic Games," a 2008 film based on the popular comic series, is one of Alain Delon's rare roles in a comedy. Other than that, he's rarely stepped before a camera in the past 15 years.

The French actor is most likely to be remembered for the characters he portrayed in the 1960s - pistol in hand, a cold-blooded angel.

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