La représentation idéalisée du commissaire. Selon Georges Simenon, le jeu, la silhouette de Jean Gabin était celle qui se rapprochait le plus de Jules Maigret.
Bande annonce de Maigret tend un piège (1958). Réalisation Jean Delannoy
The idealized representation of the Commissioner. According to Georges Simenon, the game, the silhouette of Jean Gabin was the closest to Jules Maigret.
Trailer of Maigret sets a trap (1958). Realization Jean Delannoy
Quelques portraits de comédiens qui ont prêté leurs silhouettes au célèbre commissaires… Essayez de les reconnaitre…
If we are in the 91st year of Maigret’s birth (Pietr le-Letton being the first novel by Georges Simenon, and the first in which Jules Maigret appears) we are entitled, after 75 novels, 28 short stories, several dozen films and even more about television, to ask a question. How old is this character who shared our life as spectators? With whom, over the pages, we became, if not friends, at least neighbors of landing at 132, boulevard Richard-Lenoir, with whom we shared the blanquette of veal, raised our elbow to drink a small white wine with zinc from the Dauphine brewery or the Chope du Pont-Neuf. Not to mention the beer that accompanied these ham sandwiches that were quickly brought to the office for a night of interrogation. We knew that he was not against a small alcohol, recalling the Alsatian origins of his wife, during his monthly meetings with his friend Doctor Pardon. How many times in Simenon’s writings have we followed the silences of his wife Louise, seeing their looks linger in a kindergarten. Have they not lost a very young girl! Invisible trace which seems to unite them beyond their habits. Maigret’s worlds are ours. Meung-sur-Loire: this dream house that the tired commissioner will join sooner than expected, calmly refusing the post of boss of the PJ. Beyond the last circle, we would enter politics. Everything this humanist refuses. Throughout the novels, by small touches Simenon integrates us into the world of the police. From work to work, we become part of this puzzle which offers, by a simple writing – but very worked – with the word always the most correct, this palpable universe which pushes us from the first page, to engulf us in reading. A clarity of narrative that could not escape the cinema. Jules Maigret has significant cinematic representation. Like Charlot, he has a recognizable silhouette between a thousand. His heavy shadow against a wall, his pipe … A corpulence of bon vivant reflecting this intellectual nonchalance (which is not a defect) and the precision with which he manages his doubts. “In all cases, it is a question of knowing. Knowing the environment where the crime is committed, knowing the way of life, the habits, the customs, the reactions of the people who are involved, victims, guilty or simple witnesses. Enter their world without surprise, on one level and speak its language naturally. […] No offense to the authors of novels, the police officer is above all a civil servant “, underlines the commissioner in the novel Les Mémoires de Maigret. This false slowness, cinema will make its asset with more or less happiness. Film the faces of Maigret. Simenon knows how to recognize his own: “The ideal embodiment of Commissioner Maigret will remain his first interpreter, Pierre Renoir.” He will not say the same for Albert Préjian who will don three times the heavy coat of the commissioner under the Occupation. Films produced by Continental-Films created by Joseph Goebbels. He will love the unique performance of Michel Simon. He will keep for Jean Gabin this very special affection tinged with a hint of jealousy “Gabin has done an incredible job. It bothers me a bit, because I will only be able to see Maigret in the guise of Gabin”.
The 7th Art is a matter of atmosphere. The adaptation of Georges Simenon’s novels, whatever interest we have in them, has become a film school. A joint reference between an author and the film vision of a director. But by the way, how old is the commissioner? It is interesting to ask this question and ask whether the heroes age at the same rates as we humans do? According to Simenon, Jules Maigret would have aged five years since the first novel (1929) and the one in which he bowed in 1972, Maigret and the wine merchant. Amply sufficient, it seems, to offer these five years the maturity and the reflection that make the police a citizen like you and me, average and thoughtful.
In 2019 (time flies), on the 90th anniversary of curator Maigret, Omnibus editions published the Tout Maigret collection, a collection of 75 novels in ten volumes.