14 February, 2009
Pierre Mac Orlan
Pierre Mac Orlan, sometimes written MacOrlan was a French novelist and songwriter.
His novel Quai des Brumes was the source for Marcel Carné's 1938 film of the same name, starring Jean Gabin. He was also a prolific writer of chansons, many of which were recorded and popularized by French singers such as Juliette Gréco, Monique Morelli, Catherine Sauvage, and Germaine Montero.
Born in Peronne in northern France, Mac Orlan lived in Rouen and Paris as a young man, working at a variety of jobs and learning to play the accordion. In his twenties, he travelled widely in Europe, before returning to Paris and becoming a noted figure in Bohemian art circles. In particular, his song performances were a regular feature at the Lapin Agile cabaret. During this period, he was part of a broad circle of writers and painters including Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire, Maurice Utrillo and Francis Carco.
He fought in the war against Germany until wounded in 1916, following which he worked as a war correspondent. In later years, he lived as a writer at Saint Cyr-sur-Morin, outside Paris. In the late 1920s, he became an influential critic of film and photography, writing important essays about the work of Eugene Atget, Germaine Krull and others.
In addition to Quai des Brumes, his many novels included A Bord de l’Etoile Matutine, translated into English by Malcolm Cowley as On Board the Morning Star. Among the popular chansons written by Mac Orlan are "Fille de Londres", "Le Pont du Nord" and "Nelly".