An actor from the age of 16, when he appeared in a Parisian production of Hamlet, Charles Vanel made his screen bow in the 1912 film Jim Crow. He would eventually enjoy the longest movie career of any French actor, toting up well over 200 starring appearances. He was frequently seen in the films of screenwriter Jacques de Baroncelli; he also turned director on two occasions, helming 1929's Dans la Nuit and 1935's Le Coup de Minuit. His popularity diminished during the war years, but he was able to stage a comeback as a member of director Henri-Georges Clouzot's stock company. He made only one appearance in a Hollywood production, playing a key role in Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief. The recipient of a lifetime achievement award at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival, Charles Vanel retired in 1982, only to make another wholly unexpected comeback at the age of 85.