The Eye of Ina: Marcel Bluwal, the last TV pioneer

Disappeared Saturday, October 23 at the age of 96, the director and director will remain, in history, the last pioneer of a television still in black and white, but high in color.

Crazy about theater passed through television and cinema, Marcel Bluwal died at the age of 96 on Saturday 23 October. His career began at the end of the 1940s, the day after a military service where, transferred to the cinematographic service, he learned to handle a camera. Returning to civilian life, he heard, by chance, utter the word “television”, he applied and was hired as a “general-purpose director”. Thus in the years 50/60, he will stage up to six dramas per year. For the most part, live, they often last more than two hours and are scheduled after the newspaper, that is to say at a time that is not yet called “prime time”. The cinemas then having the monopoly of the diffusion of films, they are very largely followed by a public in lack of fictions.

Madelen suggests discovering or rediscovering some of them, starting with “Figaro’s wedding or the crazy day”, broadcast on the evening of the passage of the year 1960 to 1961. This faithful adaptation of Beaumarchais, brings together, among others, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Jean Rochefort, Michel Galabru, Roger Carel and Marie-José Nat. These beginners who will become famous appear at the top of a list of actresses and actors whom Bluwal considers as his faithful, just like Claude Rich, Annie Fargue – future producer of Hate, and Daniel Emilfork, immortal Cyrano of the small screen.

The working conditions at the time are reminiscent of those of today’s sitcom shooting. We have to do it quickly and well: two and a half days of rehearsals before a live show, where incidents are frequent, such as the surprise appearance of a camera or a microphone boom in the setting of a 17th century castle. The sound quality also leaves something to be desired at times. One often discerns clearly, during a dialogue, the sound of footsteps on the floor.

The cachet is as modest as the number of televisions. Bluwal, who devoted four months to cutting and preparing this production, makes ends meet by imagining and directing variety shows, among which The salt box, the meeting place for Sunday chansonniers. He also tackles a new genre by creating the main character of Inspector Leclerc, the first detective series on television, He will also sign the two series of Vidocq, in 1966 and 1972, of which Bernard Noël, then Claude Brasseur were the headliners. Throughout his career, he has been told much more about this soap opera than about the Palme d’Or for the television film he received, in 1960 for The surprise. This prize earned him a dinner in Cannes between Federico Fellini, awarded for The good life and Michelangelo Antonioni, praised by the jury for Avventura.

At the end of the 1950s, he finally directed the program Aimée Mortimer, At the school of stars. One afternoon, Line Renaud finds him in control and tells him about the young singer-guitarist whom she met that very morning, and whom she will present on the set in the evening. “He’s not bad at all, this kid!” , she exclaims. She was right, since it is Johnny Hallyday!

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The Eye of Ina: Marcel Bluwal, the last TV pioneer