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(pseudonym of Jean-Alexis Moncorge). Born May 17, 1904, in Meriel. French film actor.
Jean Gabin began his career in 1923; he danced and sang on the variety stage and sang in operettas. He first appeared in films in a role in the operetta Everyone Can Win (1931). He attained fame in films directed by M. Carne, J. Duvivier, and J. Renoir. Great charm, emotional generosity, courage, and kindness characterized the roles he has created, often people who were persecuted by society and declasse but who always preserved human dignity and a high sense of comradeship. Among such characters were the worker Jean in Friendly Company (1936), the gangster Pépé in Pépé le Moko (1936), the soldier-deserter Jean in Port of Shadows (1938), and the worker Francois in Daybreak (1939). His best work of the 1930’s was the role of Marechal in The Grand Illusion (1937). The role of Pierre in Walls in Malapaga (1949) seemed to continue the prewar theme in Gabin’s art, but in the 1950’s and 1960’s his heroes change. Calm confidence, a wisdom acquired with the experience of life, humor, and skepticism replaced the anxiety and yearning for a better life of his earlier heroes. Among such roles were the machinist Raymond in Night Is My Kingdom (1951), Max in Don’t Touch the Loot (1954), the banker Noel Chudler in The Strong of This World (1958), the worker Neve in Prairie Street (1959), and Brassac in The Thunder of Heaven (1965). He has been awarded French national prizes as well as prizes at international film festivals.