1. - François Perier, La fin du jour, France, 1939. The notoriety of being Jean Cocteau’s lover (for 26 years) led to good film offers. Not always accepted. Marais was even paid not to make some films.
2. - Gilbert Gil, Nuit de décembre, France, 1939. Ill. Or, waiting for Cocteau movies to match the stage plays he wrote for him. They eventually made him the first post-war French heartthrob.
3. - Louis Jourdan, Premier Rendez-Vous (US: Her First Affair), France, 1941. France was occupied by the Nazis, so were the film companies - indeed, Continentale was 100% German. And the Germans refused to hire Marais - never realising that Jourdan would go on to fight them in the French Resistance. Marais made three later films with Jourdan’s co-star, Danielle Darrieux.
4. - Jean Desailly, Cheri, France, 1950. “I’ll make the film for free if you take Valentina Tessier as Léa,” said Jeannot. “She’s too old,” said the suits. “Nonsense, she’s the perfect age - 39,” argued Marais. (He’s even shot secret tests to prove it). “Well, I will not hire her if you offer me 25m Francs!” Marais quit the project that few remember because Colette’s couple were Desailly and Marcelle Chantal, rather than the illustrious Marais-Tessier.
5. - Gérard Philipe, Juliette ou La clef des songes/Juliette or Key of Dreams, France, 1951. Quickly shuttered by the Nazi Occupation when production began in October 1941, realisateur Marcel Carné revived it a decade later with not a second, but a third pair of co-stars. From Marais-Micheline Presle, to Roland Lesarffe-Leslie Caron, to Mic hel Auclair (or Philipe) opposite Susanne Cloutier. (Peter Ustinov’s sercond wife, 1954-71).
6. - Jean-François Poron, La Princesse de Cleves, France, 1961. In 1946, realisateur Jean Delannoy had Czech locations arranged but the project still sank. Fifteen years on, Marais played the husband, being too old for the lover of the princess.
7. - Bernard Blier, La chance et l’amour (sketch: Une chance explosive), France, 1964. For his second sketch-film, the former criitic, publicist and Jean-Pierre Melville assistant, Bertrand Tavernier had meets with Marais and Eddie Constantine, before settling on Blier. And asked for him again (“I adore him!”) for his first feature, L'Horologer de Saint-Paul, ,1974, only to find him committed elsewhere.
8. - Massimo Girotti, La fabuleuse aventure de Marco Polo (UK/US: Marco The Magnificent), France-Italy-Yugoslavia-Afghanistan-Egypt, 1965. Change of Pop for Marco - indeed, change of Marco as well, as the initial stars - Marais and Alain Delon - disappeared in the financial mess. When shopping began anew, pere et fils were Horst Buchholz and Girotti.
9. - Dirk Bogarde, Morte a Venezia (Death In Venice), Italy-France-1970. They worked on stage - Two For The See-Saw in Paris, 1958 - yet, somehow, never for the cinema. The Italian maestro Luchino Visconti had tried to seduce him away from Jean Cocteau in 1936. Visconti settled for remaining friends and decades later wanted Marais to be the dying, gay composer in Venice - and later, the Prince de Guermantes in the never made Proust project, La Recherche du temps perdu.
10 - Thierry Rode, Je vous salue Marie, Switzerland-France, 1984. The new film-makers of La Nouvelle Vague iconised - and, strangely, feared Marais. Only Jean-Luc Godard was brave enough to suggest a role - Joseph, now a drop-out cabby - in his update of the Nazareth virgin birth. Never happened. Of course not. Marais was too old - just a tad - at age 61. As Godard continued to practise what he preached: “Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.”