Romy Mon Amour

30 years ago, on May 29, 1982, French-German actress Romy Schneider died. I take the freedom to re-post an older entry by Guuz, with a few slight changes.

“Sissi just sticks to me just like oatmeal”, is a famous quote by Romy Schneider. Born Rosemarie Magdelena Albach-Retty in Vienna, she made her acting debut on stage by the side of her mother (like her father an actor too). In 1955 the world fell in love with her, when she played empress-to-be Sissi in the first of three films about the Austrian royal. From that point on, she tried to break away from her saccharine image by taking parts in sombre films like Christine (where she met fiancé Alain Delon), Orson Welles’ The Process, and Visconti’s Ludwig.
Her life was filled with tragedy: she was dumped by Delon, first husband Henry Meyen hanged himself naked in front of his house only a few years after the divorce, and her son David died in a fatal accident. Officially, she died because of cardiac arrest, but rumour has it she commited suicide. Knowing this, I can only see oceans of schmerz in her eyes.
Pursued and abused by the German press for nearly her whole life, Romy Schneider’s relationship to her homeland maybe is mirrored most perfectly in Robert Enrico’s relentless Le Vieux Fusil.
On a lighter note, she sang as well. In what I think is her best movie, Les Choses de la Vie, her melancholic, Hardy-like voice is perfect for La Chanson d’Hélène, a duet with Michel Piccoli. And for Max et les Ferrailleurs, she sang a short a-capella song in German.

Romy Schneider – La Chanson d’Hélène
Romy Schneider – La Lettre de Rosalie
Romy Schneider – Lily et Max

Sinner DC’s hommage to Romy S. features overwhelming sadness as well as an irresistible loop, and Jérôme Boloc’s Romy et Dewaere pairs her with French actor Patrick Dewaere whose life story was similarly tragic.

Sinner DC – Romy Schneider
Jérôme Boloc – Romy et Dewaere


Under the Radar 6: Jasmin Tabatabai

Germany’s adult pop fashion of the hour is the coffee table recycling of songs from the 20s to 40s – think Tukur, think Alsmann, and German actress Jasmin Tabatabai makes no exception. On her recent album Eine Frau, released last September, she covers songs by Hollaender, Tucholsky and others, all cushily bossa- or jazzified – by and large what Diana Krall or Norah Jones do, with less production value. Probably for reasons de chic, her lieder album also contains a French composition, La chanson d’Hélène, originally written by Philippe Sarde and Jean-Loup Dabadie for the 1970 movie Les choses de la vie. While the rest of Tabatabai’s album sounds, well, somewhat menopausal, her version of Hélène isn’t even that bad – just as clean and empty as a tumbler from a desolate dishwasher.

Jasmin Tabatabai – La chanson d’Hélène

Extra: Romy Schneider’s classic film chanson (w/ Michel Piccoli), plus a bunch of other worthwhile versions, including an English language one.

Romy Schneider – La chanson d’Hélène
Marina Celeste – La chanson d’Hélène
Francoiz Breut – La chanson d’Hélène
Berry – La chanson d’Hélène
Youn Sun Nah – La chanson d’Hélène
Dream Makers – Helen’s Song

Youn Sun Nah

On her brand new seventh album Same Girl, South Korean jazz singer Youn Sun Nah covers Rodgers/ Hammerstein, Randy Newman, Metallica, and My Name is Carnival by Jackson C. Frank, the legendary white bluesman with the saddest life story you might ever read. She also interpretes La chanson d’Hélène, originally written by Philippe Sarde and Jean-Loup Dabadie for the movie Les choses de la vie, and does a remarkable job. A daring one as well, since it’s surely impossible to capture the magic Romy Schneider created with her vocals forty years ago. The male talking part, done by Michel Piccoli on the original recording, went to French romancier, musicien and plasticien Roland Brival, whose last, quite intriguing album Vol de Nuit could be described as kind of a missing link between Arthur H. and a 50s St. Germain jazz nightclub.

Youn Sun Nah/ Roland Brival – La chanson d’Hélène

Romy Schneider/ Michel Piccoli – La chanson d’Hélène


FS reader Teyo d’Unux brought a sweet English language version of the chanson to our attention, the Dreammakers’ Helen’s Song. And since he labeled it a perfect tune for autumn:

Dreammakers – Helen’s Song

Francoiz Breut – La chanson d’Hélène
Berry – La chanson d’Hélène
Get Well Soon – La chanson d’Hélène
Marina Celeste – La chanson d’Hélène