One of the most beautiful women ever captured on celluloid, French actress Arletty was a stage performer for ten years before her 1930 film debut in Un Chien Qui Rapporte. Somewhat daunted by this movie experience, Arletty withdrew from films for a while to fully train herself in adapting her techniques for the camera. The actress hit her cinematic stride just when the Germans marched into France in 1940; nonetheless, she continued to make films, losing none of her popularity. Although her forte was in portraying down-to-earth women of the world, Arletty is best remembered by film students for her etherial role as a mysterious "femme fatale" beloved by most of the male cast in Les Enfants du Paradis (1944). The film, which celebrated the freedom of the human spirit and which featured several fugitive members of the French Underground, is nowadays regarded as an implicit attack against the Nazi occupation troops. In this context, it is ironic that once the war ended, Arletty would spend several years in prison, charged with conducting an affair with a German military officer. Despite a period of relative disgrace, Arletty continued acting into the 1960s, respected for her acting skills by those who could no longer love her. One of Arletty's final screen appearances was a fleeting cameo as an elderly occupation-era Frenchwoman in the internationally produced epic The Longest Day (1962).
by Hal Erickson biography