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Télé - 7 jours
October 14-20, 1967
N° 395, pp 22-23, 28-29

Simenon has taught
Jean Richard
how Maigret
should be played


original French

On his property in Epalinge, Switzerland, Georges Simenon offered Jean Richard a Maigret model pipe.

The Investigations of Commissioner Maigret
(No 1)
with Jean Richard
9:05 pm

"Maigret has been so imitated," Georges Simenon laughingly told me, "that now it seems like I'm the one copying the others!" The others are Inspector Lambert, of "Hello, Police", and Bourrel, of "The Last Five Minutes", which Simenon calls "the poor man's Maigret". Because French television is one of the last in Europe to have its own Maigret – German viewers, Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, the Dutch, the Italians and the English all have theirs. In Italy, since Gino Cervi has played the role of the famous commissioner, the Italians have become pipe smokers, and now more pipes are sold in Italy than in France. As for Rupert Davies, the British Maigret, he is so popular in Britain that he is now as famous as the prime minister: he inaugurates hospitals and roads.

In France it is Jean Richard who will embody Commissioner Maigret. "I mistrust the big stars," Georges Simenon explains to me, because "then it becomes 'Gabin in the role of Maigret'. But, for the public someone is necessary who IS Maigret. When Claude Barma, producer of the series, proposed Jean Richard to me, I remembered that my son Marc had once said, 'So one day, when they make Maigret in France, Jean Richard would be perfect, because he's not only a comedian and an animal tamer, he's also an excellent actor.' The worst Maigret I've seen," adds Simenon, "was Charles Laughton. He'd wanted to be more French than the French, and played Maigret while hopping and wiggling around."

The meeting of Georges Simenon with his nineteenth interpreter was not only cordial but full of lessons for the future Maigret.

"I saw you with your animals and I immediately thought that you would make a good Maigret," said Simenon to Jean Richard. "Maigret behaves with a suspect as you do before an animal that you don't know well yet. When he arrives somewhere, he has to impregnate himself with the place. He tries the armchair to see what the suspect sees every day. He familiarizes himself with things. Maigret is not Sherlock Holmes, he isn't looking for anything. You have to play him with a certain slowness because he doesn't have strokes of genius. Maigret shouldn't be quick. His ideas develop slowly because he operates by intuition. He has the art of bothering people. The one who seems most like Maigret is Dumayet, because like him, he is adept at silences.

And that is how Claude Barma sees Maigret. He has adopted a slow rhythm. He has sought a maximum of naturalness, in settings as well as in framing. Everything is real in Cécile – the offices of the P.J. have been reconstructed as they were before war, the summonses are actual summonses. The actors are nearly all unknowns.

"I've intentionally removed all the 'folklore'," specifies Claude Barma. "For example, you won't see Mme Maigret. In his office at the P.J., I've eliminated the stove. Maigret wears neither a bowler nor an overcoat with a velvet collar. I've only made one concession... Maigret still smokes his pipe!"


Before Claude Barma (center), Simenon teaches Jean Richard how to smoke a pipe like Maigret.

"A character with tremendous depth"

"Bourrel and Maigret are very different," Claude Barma explained to me. "They work in different ways. Bourrel undertakes an investigation. He interrogates people in a set way. He asks them precise questions: 'Where you were last night at 9:00?' Maigret, absolutely not. He talks of one thing and another with suspects, and when he has understood their language, their sensitivity, there are questions which he no longer needs to ask. Bourrel looks for clues. Not Maigret. He tries to reconstruct the psychology of a character, develop a scenario and then see how it fits the situation. In fact, Maigret is a nonconformist. He is a character with tremendous depth, which is not the case with Bourrel, a comic strip hero.


Channel 1 TV Programs

Saturday, October 14 [1967]
9:05 pm

The Investigations of Commissioner Maigret


based on a novel by GEORGES SIMENON
Adapted by Claude Barma and Jacques Remy
Directed by Claude BARMA

Jean RICHARD - Maigret
Moud RAYER - Cécile
Gérard BERNER - Gérard
Nicole - PESCHEUX Berthe
Maurice GARREL - Charles Dandurand
Jean MICHAUD - Judge Coméliau
Bernard CHARLAN - Maître Le Loup
François CADET - Sergeant Lucas
Martine FERRIERE - The concierge
Dagmar DEISEN - Nouchy
Pierre PENOUX - Marlou
Christian REMY - Jourdan
Maurice GAUTIER - Torrence
Fred PERSONNE - Cassieux
Jean LANIER - Director of the P.J.
Robert BURNIER - Director of the Financial brigade
André DUMAS - Jaminet (of Judicial Identity)
Jacques GALLAND - Commissioner of Lodgings
Roger RUDEL - Maître Blanchart
Yvonne GALLI - Juliette Boynet
Sophie DARBON - Hélène
René FLEUR - Léopold, the bailiff
André FOUCHER - Montfils
Jacques THOMAS - Machepied
Gabriel GASCON - First crook
Jean-Jacques REMY - Second crook
Jacques STARLING - The curé
Benoîte LAB - Mélanie
René RALL - Robert
Dominique TOUSSAINT - First photographer
Antoine SEVILLA - Second photographer

Sets: Maurice Valoy and Jacques Maestro
Costumes by Lîselle Roos

Nowadays. Paris and suburbs.

A double murder has been committed in a small lodging in the Paris suburbs. The first victim, Juliet Boynet, a mean old woman, rich but sordidly greedy, had many enemies in her circle. But who was interested in eliminating, that same day, in the very halls of the Judicial Police, Cécile, Mme Boynet's unfortunate niece? Maigret investigates...

Leaving his Blvd. Richard-Lenoir building, Maigret heads toward the métro, smoking his pipe, in the chilling air of a winter morning. At exactly 9:00, he passes under the archway of the Judicial Police, Quai des Orfèvres. Cassieux, a vice-squad inspector, approaches him, teasingly: Cécile is waiting for Maigret, as she very often has been, for some months, to impress on him her suspicions about the nocturnal visits at her aunt's, where she stays. She is worried, and today seems to want to tell him something important. At the Quai, everyone is beginning to smile about Cécile's attentiveness to Maigret. He passes her by, rushing to shut himself into his office where he takes care of current business with his colleagues. Having finished his report to the director of the P.J., the commissioner returns to his office. He finds a note from Cécile: "It is absolutely essential that you see me, something terrible happened last night." Maigret jumps up and and hurries into the hallway: Cécile is no longer there...

The commissioner immediately goes to the home of Cécile's aunt, Juliet Boynet... He rings. Silence With a locksmith's help, Maigret enters the lodging cluttered with trinkets and pieces of furniture. On her bed lies Juliet Boynet, murdered...

Cécile waits for Maigret. She has some serious revelations for him.

Dandurand (Maurice Garrel) and Cécile.

Maigret interrogates Dandurand. Is he on the right track?

Nouchy (Dagmar Deisen) and Maigret.

By Cécile's body, Maigret and the Dir. of the P.J. (J. Lanier)

Gérard (Gérard Berner) and Berthe, his sister (Nicole Pescheux) are happy: the commissioner (Jean Richard) no longer suspects them...

translation: S. Trussel
Honolulu, Jan 8, 2006

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