Vintage Hunk: Alain Delon

By: Mike McCrann

Alain Delon is the first non-American beauty to be featured as a Vintage Hunk.

This French movie star, who is still very much with us, was one of the most gorgeous actors working in films. From his handsome, dark eyes and his bad boy style, to an unmistakable sexiness that simply exuded from his entire being, this man was the stuff (lustful) dreams were made of — both for straight women and gay men alike.

Alain Fabien Maurice Marcel Delon was born in 1935 and for a good period during the late 1950s and '60s he was one of the great stars of international cinema. Called everything from a male Brigitte Bardot to the French James Dean, Delon worked with many of the great directors.

David O. Selznick actually discovered Delon at the Cannes Films Festival and signed him to a contract provided that he learn English. Delon was persuaded to stay in France and wisely began his career in French films. His 1960 film Purple Noon (based on Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley) gave Delon the chance to star in a good (if not great) film. More importantly, Purple Noon had Delon shirtless for most of the film and his sizzling performance as the amoral Ripley made him an international star.

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Delon's best film was Borsalino, co-starring the other French heartthrob Jean-Paul Belmondo. This French crime epic had the two sexy stars playing criminals and dressed to the nines in gorgeous period costumes. Other great films like Visconti's The Leopard and Le samouraï followed, giving Delon a long and successful career. Delon's foray into American films, such as with The Yellow Rolls-Royce and Once a Thief, were ample proof that he made the right decision to stay in France.

Beyond his movie work, Delon's love life was the stuff of legend and scandal. He was paired with exquisite actress Romy Schneider and had four children — one from his marriage and 3 from his various affairs. But the big scandal was in 1968 when one of Delon's bodyguards was found shot in the head outside Delon's home in a dumpster. Lurid rumors of a ménage à trois involving the hunky guard, Delon and his wife swirled for months. Delon was held and questioned by police but no charges were ever filed. Delon's association with gangsters was widely reported for years.

Today Delon is one of the white haired grandfathers of French cinema. His sexy bad boy days have been replaced with his current status as a cinema icon. But anyone looking for one of the most beautiful men in cinema history has to look no further than Purple Noon. The American remake with Matt Damon may have been more faithful to the original book and a better film, but Tom Ripley was never as sexy as when he was portrayed by the smoldering French beauty Alain Delon.