- Paul Frankeur, Faut pas prendre les enfants du bon Dieu pour des canards sauvages, France, 1968. Prodigious dialoguist-turned-auteur Michel Audiard (129 scripts in 36 years) preferred filming with his pals. He’d never worked with Noiret, Jean-Pierre Darras, Jean Yanne, so simply changed them for Frankeur (they made nine films together), Bernard Blier (18) and André (Pousse (10) The March shooting was fun, but the release clashed with May ’68 when France blew up...
- Jean Yanne, Que la bête meure (US: This Man Must Die), France-Italy, 1969. The stately, wannabe aristocrat Noiret easily refused the despicable Paul Decourt - killing a child with his car. Not his cuppa at all. (And yet he was a pedophile strangling a young girl in Jean-Pierre Mocky’s Le témoin, 1978). In his second of four Claude Chabrol films, Yanne was perfect. “Surly and brutal,” said Chicago critic Roger Ebert, “and so filled with his own vanity that we almost like him more than the tight-lipped, impassive hero.” Noiret then waited anxiously for another Chabrol offer. That’s why he rashly accepted Masques in 1987. This time, the film didn’t feel it!
- Jacques Brel, Mon oncle Benjamin, France-Italy, 1969. For some 20 years, Bernard Blier had dreamt of playing novelist Claude Tillier’s hero. Noiret nearly beat his old rival - friend and foe - but neither’s project flew. And neither was young or agile enough when realisateur Èdouard Molinaro set it up for Brel. Blier still beat Noiret - by playing the Marquis de Cambyse.
- Francis Blanche, L’Étalon, France, 1970. “Much to his dishonour,” said director Jean-Pierre Mocky, Noiret quit in disagreement with day-by-day salary payments (due to lack of insurance cover for co-star Bourvil’s cancer). Bourvil managed three more films before his death. Noiret and Mocky made up with Le témoin, 1978.
- Michel Piccoli, Grandeur nature/Life Size, France-Italy-Spain, 1974. Man abandoning wife and mistress for an inflatable sex-doll. They eventually have a suicide pact. He drowns. She floats.
- Max Von Sydow, Three Days of the Condor, 1975. Committed to home product, he felt “honoured by the stature of my replacement.”
- Donald Sutherland, Les Liens de sang/Blood Relatives, France-Canada, 1977. Chabrol calls again... but could not get Noiret until Masques , 1987. Besides only Chabrol could think of Noiret as a French version of Ed McBain’s cop art, Steve Carella. Once Canada entered the picture (literally), Sutherland fitted the Montreal bill far better. Yet the French realisateur known as second (102nd?) Hitchcock, a Hitch fan at least, never persuaded (or afforded) a Hitch scenarist, namely Evan Hunter, aka McBain, to write the script. Dommage!
- Vadim Glowna, La mort en direct (UK/US: Death Watch), France-West Germany-UK, 1979. Bad health prevented the Bertrand Tavernier regular from playing Romy Schneider’s husband. The Lyons realisateur turned to Delon. Yes, well, for obvious reasons. But he was not interested. For obvious reasons - their history would send the wrong message to the public. Enter: the German veteran who debuted in Immensee in 1942. Aged eight months.
- Victor Lanoux, Y a-t-il un Français dans la salle? France, 1981. The caustic realisateur Jean-Pierre Mocky was making mock again (what else?) and all of his choices backed away from sending up the French parliamentary system: Noiret, Yves Montand and Jean Rochefort.
- Bruno Cremer, Un jeu brutal, France, 1983. “Another regret. There are moments when you feel at your most vulnerable, fragile - and I suppose I was a little tired. And indeed scared to enter that character and his universe.”
- Michel Lonsdale, Der Name der Rose/The Name of the Rose, France-Italy-Germany, 1986. Also considered: the ex-Bond villain, Adolfi Celi.
- Jean Yanne, Fucking Fernand, France, 1987. First realisateur Paul Vecchiali chose Noiret and Bernard Giraudeau. The second, Gérard Mordillat, made it with Yanne and Terry Lhermite.
- Gérard Depardieu, Cyrano de Bergerac, 1990. It was about time… The French had not tackled their classic hero since Daniel Sorano headed a TVersion - 30 years previously! And Claude Dauphin had starred in the last Paris movie as far back as 1945! Philippe De Broca was chief among realisateurs trying to rectify the situation. Yet his differing adaptations were tossed aside by Belmondo, Montand and Noiret. De Broca threw in the towel - picked up by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, who wrote L’homme de Rio for Belmondo, Le Sauvage for Montand and directed Noiret in La vie de château. He didn’t call on any of them and Depardieu was impeccable - one of film history’s greatest performances.
- Donel Donnelly, The Godfather: Part III, 1991.