Actor. Born Jules Auguste Muraire in Toulon in southern France, Raïmu went on to become one of the most beloved character actors in French cinema. He began his career on the stage in Toulon, performing in local café-concerts, quite often doing impressions. His success in that milieu attracted the attention of Sacha Guitry, who brought him to Paris and put him to work in the theater. Raïmu went on to perform in the Folies Bergères as well as the Comédie Française.
   Although Raïmu is best remembered as a screen star, it was the theater that launched his film career. He had tried his hand at screen acting during the silent era, appearing in films such as the uncredited Le Fumiste (1912) and Henri Desfontaines's L'Homme nu (1913). However, it was through his role in Marcel Pagnol's stage play, Marius, that Raïmu finally caught the attention of the cinema. In 1929, Pagnol apparently invited Raïmu to appear in his production of Marius (1931), offering him the role of Panisse, Fanny's hapless suitor. However, Raïmu seems to have seen a better match in the role of César, Marius's father, and it was that role he requested. He played César onstage and then onscreen in Pagnol and Alexander Korda's adaptation of the play in 1931. He went on to reprise the role in Marc Allegret's adaptation of Fanny (1932) and Pagnol's adaptation of César (1936), and it is probably the role with which Raïmu is most closely associated.
   In addition, Raïmu went on to appear in a number of other memorable roles in various other films. He worked again with Pagnol, appearing in La Femme du boulanger (1938) and La Fille du puisatier (1940). He was also a particular favorite of Allegret, who cast him in Mam'zelle Nitouche (1931), Le Blanc et le noir (1931), La Petite chocolatière (1932), Gribouille (1937), Parade en sept nuits (1941), and L'Arlésienne (1942). In addition to his close association with Pagnol, Raïmu was associated with Le Réalisme poétique or poetic realism. In addition to his work with Allegret, he also appeared in Julien Duvivier's Un carnet de bal (1937) and Untel père et fils (1943).
   For obvious reasons, Raïmu worked with southern director André Hugon, appearing in such films as Gaspard de Besse (1935) and Le Héros de la Marne (1939). In addition, Raïmu also worked with Tourneur on Les Gaietés de l'escadron (1932), Pierre Colombier on Charlemagne (1933), Théodore et Cie (1933), Le Roi (1936), and Les Rois du sport (1937), Raymond Bernard on Tartarin de Tarascon (1934), Roger Richebé on J'ai une idée (1934) and Minuit place Pigalle (1934), André Berthomieu in Le Secret de Polichinelle (1936), La Chaste Suzanne (1937), and Les Nouveaux riches (1938), Guitry in Faisons un rêve (1937), Jean Grémillon in L'Étrange Monsieur Victor (1937), Christian-Jacques and Guitry in Les Perles de la couronne (1937), Léo Joannen in Vous n'avez rien à déclarer (1937), Fernand Rivers in Le Fauteuil 47 (1937), Jean Boyer in Noix de coco (1939), Jeff Musso in Dernière jeunesse (1939), Alexander Esway in Monsieur Brotonneau (1939) and L'Homme qui cherche la vérité (1940), Georges Lacombe in Monsieur La Souris (1942), Henri Decoin in Les Bienfaiteurs (1942) and Les Inconnus dans la maison (1942), Raymond Leboursier in Les Petits riens (1942), and René Le Henaff in Le Colonel Chabert (1943) and Les Gueux au paradis (1946). Orson Welles once called Raïmu the greatest French actor who ever lived. While some would, no doubt, dispute that assessment, the range of roles Raïmu played, from duped husband to jovial mercurial barkeeper to tough prosecutor, seems to give credence to that judgment. However, for many filmgoers throughout the world, it is the barkeeper that stole the show.
   Historical Dictionary of French Cinema by Dayna Oscherwitz & Mary Ellen Higgins

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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