It Seems Like Yesterday

An instant sensation when it was released in 1966, wildly sentimental yet sophisticated and intensely romantic, A Man and a Woman was the ultimate French film with a fairy-tale ending. Anyone who has seen the film can also instantly recall the brilliant strains of Francois Lai’s score.

Although Anouk Aimée had earlier appeared in both Fellini’s groundbreaking La Dolce Vita and the cutting-edge 8 1/2, it was her role in A Man and a Woman opposite Jean-Louis Trintignant that made her an international superstar.

Directed by a then-little-known Claude Lelouch, the film became a huge international success, winning 1966’s Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film the same year. (Actually, you can even watch the film now on Prime Video, which might be a perfect way to spend one of the rainy afternoons New York is having this summer.)

When I photographed the actress in 1986, the sequel, A Man and a Woman: 20 Years Later, had just been released. Since one of the main locations of the original film was Deauville, it seemed the logical location choice for my photograph.

Intelligent and professional, dramatically beautiful, relaxed yet confident, the actress was a sophisticated and sexy woman who knew exactly who she was. She was also a good sport. Without hesitation, she shrugged in that recognizable French way and ran laughing into the chilly sea.

An interesting footnote: The third film in the series, The Best Years of a Life, was recently screened out of competition at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. It will be curious to see whether it receives a theatrical release. My wife, Gigi, said if it does she will be first in line to see it.