09 February, 2009
Claude Chabrol is a French film director and one of the core members of the French New Wave group of filmmakers who first came to prominence in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Like his fellow New Wave directors Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette, Chabrol worked as a critic for the influential film magazine Cahiers du Cinema before pursuing a career in filmmaking.
Often characterized as the most "mainstream" of the New Wave directors, Chabrol has remained prolific and popular throughout his now half-century career.
Claude Chabrol was born in Paris in 1930. After spending World War II in the village of Sardent, where he and a friend constructed a makeshift movie theater, Chabrol returned to Paris to study pharmacology at the University of Paris. There Chabrol became involved with the postwar cine club culture and met Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette and others with whom he would write for Cahiers du Cinema throughout the 1950s.
In 1957, Chabrol co-wrote Hitchcock (Paris: Éditions Universitaires, 1957)--a study of the films made by director Alfred Hitchcock through the film The Wrong Man (1957)--with Éric Rohmer. The next year, Chabrol made his feature directorial debut with Le Beau Serge (1958), a Hitchcock-influenced thriller starring Jean-Claude Brialy partly funded by his wife's inheritance and one of the first films of the French New Wave. The film, a critical success, won Chabrol the Prix Jean Vigo and was followed the next year by Les Cousins, one of the New Wave's first commercial successes, and Chabrol's first color film, À double tour, starring a young Jean-Paul Belmondo.
The most prolific of the major New Wave directors, Chabrol has averaged almost one film a year since 1958.