French actress Pascale Roberts (1933) is active in the French cinema and television since 1954. From her femme fatale parts in B-thrillers and comedies in the 1950’s, she grew into mother roles. She is best known for her parts in A-films by Costa-Gravas, Yves Boisset and Robert Guédiguian, and for her many appearances on French TV.
Pascale Roberts was born in Boulogne-sur-Seine, France in 1933. Her mother was a director at Elisabeth Arden and among her clients were Martine Carol, Edwige Feuillère and Dora Doll. Through Carol she became an extra in Madame du Barry (1954, Christian-Jaque). She decided to follow acting classes in Paris, against the wishes of her mother. She had a small part in the comedy Une vie de garçon/A Boy’s Life (1954, Jean Boyer) and a bit part as a girl at a poker game in the hard boiled crime film Les femmes s'en balancent/Dames Don’t Care (1954, Bernard Borderie) starring Eddie Constantine as FBI agent Lemmy Caution. Two-fisted Constantine impersonated a mix of Humphrey Bogart and James Bond in a string of popular French action films of the 1950’s. At Films de France, James Travers writes: “Although it is barely recognised today, the French film noir, or polar, was hugely popular in the 1950s and 1960s, probably the most successful genre in French cinema. All but a handful of these films are widely known today, and these tend to have survived mainly because they feature famous actors such as Gabin, Belmondo and Delon. (...). For each of these film which have stood the test of time, many others have fallen by the wayside. Surprisingly, this latter category includes one of the most popular series of French films ever made. These featured FBI agent, private detective, all-round crime-fighter and inveterate womanizer Lemmy Caution. The Lemmy Caution films were based on a series of novels by the popular British writer, Peter Cheyney and starred an American expatriate, Eddie Constantine. With his irresistible charm and rugged good looks, Constantine was a popular film hero who played the role of Lemmy Caution for 15 years, after which he tumbled into obscurity. Today, Constantine is probably best known for his appearance as Caution in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 film, Alphaville , an outrageous, almost surreal, skit on the film noir genre. Les Femmes s’en balancent is Constantine’s third outing as the happy-go-lucky, gun-toting detective. Although the plot is pretty unsophisticated (certainly by today’s standards), the film is tirelessly entertaining, and this is almost entirely down to Constantine’s charismatic and ebullient performance.”
Pascale Roberts would appear several times as a femme fatale opposite Constantine such as in Ces dames préfèrent le mambo/Dishonorable Discharge (1957, Bernard Borderie). She could also be seen in other film noirs such as Cherchez la femme/Look for the woman (1955, Raoul André) with Pierre Mondy, and Dans la gueule du loup/In the Mouth of the Wolf (1961, Jean-Charles Dudrumet) based on a crime novel by James Hadley Chase. In 1957, she married Pierre Mondy but they divorced some years later. After dozens of mediocre comedies and thrillers, Roberts was really remarkable as the victim in Costa-Gravas’ first film, the fast-moving and entertaining thriller Compartiment tueurs/The Sleeping Car Murder (1965, Costa Gravas) starring Catherine Allégret and her mother Simone Signoret. Hal Erickson writes at Rovi: “During a Marseilles-to-Paris overnight train trip, a girl is found dead in a sleeping car. As Paris detective Yves Montand steps up his investigation, more and more passengers turn up murdered. The unlikely climax is the only sore point of this otherwise well-wrought mystery. Bereft of the politicizing of Costa-Gavras' later works, The Sleeping Car Murders exhibits the director's fondness for American ‘film noir’ thrillers.” On television, Roberts was that same year a co-star of Genevieve Grad in the comedy series Chambre à louer/Room for rent (1965, Jean-Pierre Desagnat), and she appeared on TV in another popular comedy series Les saintes chéries/The holy darlings (1965, Jean Becker) starring Micheline Presle. Later she featured with Jean-Claude Pascal in a daily soap opera, Le Temps de vivre et le temps d'aimer/Time To Live and Time To Love (1973, Louis Grospierre).
In 1975, Pascale Roberts played her arguably best known film role as the mother of r*pe and murder victim Isabelle Huppert in Dupont Lajoie/r*pe of Innocence (1975, Yves Boisset). This and her later roles were all supporting parts. During the 1980’s she appeared with Alain Delon in the film noir Trois hommes à abattre/Three Men to Destroy (1980, Jacques Deray) and the policier Pour la peau d'un flic/For a Cop's Hide (1981, Alain Delon), in which she played a junkie. She also taught theatre at the École internationale de création audiovisuelle et de réalisation in
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