Video editor René Chateau is dead


Self-taught cinephile, adventurer of the seventh art, genius advertiser, wise distribution strategist, daring video editor, mad collector, fierce catalog holder, lover of cinema… The man was certainly all of this on condition of adding voluntary discretion, a sulphurous reputation built on the gray areas and the mysteries of a biography voluntarily presented in a piecemeal manner as well as on the numerous enmities that part of the profession bore him.

René Château received his visitors in a private mansion in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, a veritable den devoted to cinema and its objects. For a long time, he spent part of the year in the capital and the other in Saint-Tropez (Var). He had retired there permanently for several years and died there. The exact date of his death, which took place in the week of February 5, still remains unknown.

He was born in Le Mans on July 3, 1939 (some sources say 1940). Following his parents’ divorce, he moved with his mother to Paris. A mediocre student, he spends his time in cinemas, fascinated by Hollywood and its stars. After his school certificate, he became an apprentice tiler and published a fanzine, La Method . The actor and director Gérard Blain introduced him to the world of cinema and presented him to the director of the men’s magazine Lui . There he became, in his own words, a “playmate specialist” .

Decisive meeting

The filmmaker specializing in eroticism José Bénazéraf makes him his press agent for his film, Joe Caligula, in which Chateau succeeds in getting his friend Blain, who plays the main role. The meeting with Jean-Paul Belmondo, in the mid-1960s, will be decisive. Linked by a strong friendship, the two men never left each other’s side. Chateau will develop all of the actor’s advertising campaigns and choose the posters himself (that of Fear in the City , in 1975, which was inspired by that of Bullit , with Steve McQueen, in 1968, will not be for nothing in the success of the film). They will all feature the same design of the hero brandishing an impressive weapon, the name Belmondo appearing in capital letters.

He keeps criticism at bay by refusing to organize press screenings and establishes a form of scarcity by reducing the star’s appearances as much as possible. More than a simple publicist, he will be the éminence grise of Belmondo, who will make him his partner within his production company, Cerito. René Chateau even intervenes at the writing stage, demanding from the screenwriters and directors, for example, a ritual car chase in each of the titles. He will have made Belmondo a brand.

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