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Raymond Hakim (1909 - 1980)

Robert Hakim (1907 )

Both Egyptian born in Alexandria, Robert (b. 1907) and Raymond (b. 1909), were educated in France. They both worked for Paramount in France. They then became independent producers in 1934, financing Duvivier’s Pépé le Moko and Renoir’s La Bête Humaine. These sensational and discreetly salacious films by directors who, though well-established, were slightly out of the mainstream, established a strategy that would help the Hakims survive the French cinema’s most disastrous decades.

In 1940, they joined many colleagues (including Julien Duvivier and Jean Renoir) in fleeing to California. During World War II, the Hakims produced only The Southerner, a lean picture of sharecropper life, co-produced with David Loew. Renoir’s film, which is unlike anything else the brothers ever backed, has all the marks of a project engineered by Hollywood to keep distinguished emigrés afloat.

The Hakims remained in America after the war but, of their three productions, only The Long Night, a remake of Marcel Carné’s 1939 Le Jour se lève, with Henry Fonda replacing Jean Gabin, is notable, while the limp comedy Heartbeat effectively ended the Hollywood career of Jean-Pierre Aumont. The youngest Hakim, Andre (born 1915), remained in America, where he married into the Zanuck family and became producer for 20th Century-Fox, but in 1950, Robert and Raymond returned to France.

They financed Duvivier’s Pot-bouille and the two films that launched Simone Signoret as a star, Becker’s Casque d’or and Carne’s Thérèse Raquin. However, intellectually out of sympathy with the nouvelle vogue, the Hakims failed to imitate fellow independent producers Pierre Baunberger and Georges de Beauregard in backing the New Wave. Their only productions with the younger directors were Chabrol’s Les Bonnes Femmes and his upper-class whodunnit, A Double Tour. The latter, also known as Web of Passion and advertised with the graphic of a keyhole framing Bernadette Lafont in bikini underwear, was among the New Wave’s first international commercial successes.

Throughout the 1960’s the Hakims seldom deviated from the style of film successful for them in the 1930’s: star-driven melodramas with plenty of sex, and international market built in. The recipe that launched Simone Signoret in Casque d’or proved equally serviceable for Alain Delon in René Clément’s Plein Soleil, Roger Vadim’s remake of La Ronde, Luis Buñuel’s Belle de jour and Karel Reisz’s Isadora. All shrewdly exploited the European cinema’s reputation for sophisticated sensuality without surrendering totally to the mass market.

The Hakims’ methods were not always popular. Attempting to make a BBC TV film on Isadora Duncan, Ken Russell found every available biography and memoir of the dancer bought up by the brothers to protect their 1969 production The Loves of Isadora. At the same time, François Truffaut, negotiating with the Hakims to film Cornell Woolrich’s Mississippi Mermaid, quickly became deadlocked with them over casting. Truffaut wanted Jean-Paul Belmondo opposite Catherine Deneuve, but the brothers prefered Alan Bates or Alain Delon. After breaking off the deal, Truffaut discovered that the story rights belonged, not to the Hakims at all, but to 20th Century-Fox, from whom he purchased them to make La Sirene du Mississippi, with Belmondo and Deneuve. Such charges however, should be weighed alongside the Hakim’s impressive record. By putting their skills to work on behalf of great directors, they managed to make high-quality, bankable films.


1937: Pépé le Moko
1938: La Bête Humaine
1939: Le Jour se lève
1945: The Southerner
1947: Her Husband's Affairs
1947: The Long Night
1949: Without Honor
1951: The Blue Veil
1952: Casque d'or
1953: Thérèse Raquin
1956: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
1957: Pot-bouille (Duvivier)
1959: A double tour
1960: Plein Soleil
1960: Les Bonnes Femmes
1962: L'éclisse
1962: Eva
1963: Chair de poule
1964: Weekend à Zuydcoote
1964: La Ronde
1967: Belle de jour
1967: Isadora
1968: Heartbeat
1969: The Loves of Isadora
1976: La Marge