GENEVA -- French-born director, screenwriter, and author Jose Giovanni, who had a string of crime movie hits featuring stars including Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon,
died yesterday of a brain hemorrhage in a clinic in Lausanne. He was 80.
Mr. Giovanni, who was from the Mediterranean island of Corsica, moved to the Swiss Alpine village of Marecottes in the late 1960s and later became a naturalized citizen of his adopted homeland. Mr. Giovanni -- a member of the French resistance during World War II -- worked as a diver, lumberjack, coal miner, and mountain guide. His alleged links with a postwar criminal gang earned him a death sentence, but he was pardoned. He then turned to writing.
Mr. Giovanni launched his movie industry career in the late 1950s, scripting "Du rififi chez les femmes" ("The Riff Raff Girls") for director Alex Joffe in 1959.
A year later, he adapted his jailbreak novel "Le Trou" ("The Hole,") based on his own attempted escape from a Paris prison, into the film of the same name directed by Jacques Becker. In 1969, he wrote the screenplay for Henri Verneuil's "Le Clan des Siciliens" ("The Sicilian Clan") which starred Delon along with veterans Jean Gabin and Lino Ventura.
Mr. Giovanni continued writing screenplays until 2001, though his own directing career took off in the early 1970s. He turned his novel "La Scoumoune" ("The Hitman") into a 1972 melodrama starring Belmondo as a 1930s gangster.
He made some 20 movies throughout a directing career that ended in 2001 with "Mon pere, il m'a sauve la vie" ("My Father Saved My Life"). The film starred Bruno Cremer as an international poker player who loses one son to crime and fights to save another from a death sentence. Mr. Giovanni also acted in a few movies, including Laetitia Masson's 2002 "La Repentie" ("The Repentant"). He won several awards in France for his crime novels and his 1995 autobiography.