Monday, April 14, 2014

Raoul J. Levy -- And God Created Stupid

Brigitte Bardot
Born in Antwerp, Belgium, on March 14, 1922, the producer-director who launched the meteoric career of Brigitte Bardot served as a  pilot with the Royal Air Force during WWII before embarking on his own film career as a production assistant for his uncle at RKO on Mexican films after the war.  Returning to Europe as a representative for an American producer, Levy formed his own production company in France in 1950.  After a few undistinguished films, Levy produced Et Dieu Crea la Femme (And God Created Woman) in 1956, which unleashed sex kitten Brigitte Bardot and director Roger Vadim on the international film scene.  Levy used the film's popularity to establish himself as the only French-related film producer to occupy a position in the industry comparable with that of major Hollywood producers.  In 1962, Levy's attempt to make a big-budget Hollywood-type spectacular on the life of Marco Polo ended in financial ruin.  The film, La Fabuleuse Aventure de Marco Polo (Marco the Magnificent), was eventually completed by another director and production company in 1965.  Levy bounced back as a small independent producer-director and made Montgomery Clift's final movie, The Defector, in 1966.

On December 31, 1966, in the resort town of Saint-Tropez, the jilted 44 year old shot himself in the stomach with a rifle before the door of his 24-year-old script girl and textile heiress Isabelle Lons.  He died before arriving at the hospital.  Levy had attempted suicide with sleeping pills years earlier, but was saved when his secretary found him in his office.

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