Jean Martin, 1922–2009

Feb 13, 2009

This week, French actor Jean Martin died at the age of eighty-six. Though he appeared in more than eighty films (including My Name Is Nobody and The Day of the Jackal), Martin is probably best remembered for his role as the French military chief, Colonel Mathieu, in Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers, a “dry, punctilious performance . . . [that] sheds irony over the whole imperialist enterprise,” wrote Peter Matthews in his essay for the Criterion release. In this clip from our documentary on the making of the film, Pontecorvo and others recall the decision to cast Martin, the only trained actor in the film, and Martin himself shares anecdotes from the shoot, including about entering Algiers, parading at the head of three hundred paratroopers.

Jean Martin, 1922–2009