Sacha in the very charming company of Bernadette Lafont in a scene of the film

History relates that it was in 1952 and then still under the guidance of « Uncle Ray » that Sacha made his first appearance in front of a camera. He played a small part in the film by the up and coming director Jean Boyer. In « Femmes de Paris », in a screenplay part written by Ray Ventura with music by Paul Misraki, Sacha, just out of adolescence, played next to the great Michel Simon but also several young people of his generation also looking for fame: Robert Lamoureux, Roger Pierre and Jean-Marc Thibault. It was then most probably at the beginning of the 60’s that Sacha, having made his mark singing, became interested again in the cinema. And by the front door: in 1960, he played the leading role in Les Mordus by René Jolivet. A thriller where he played the part of Jean-Pierre Bernard, a prisoner on the run who gets back on track thanks to the devoted love of a post office worker played by Dannick Patisson. He also took the opportunity of writing the film music.

In 1960

Sacha also made an appearance in the Louis Malle’s well-known film « Zazie dans le métro » beside Catherine Demongeot, Philippe Noiret and Annie Fratellini. Gradually, Sacha worked his way into the film world. The following year, while shooting a scene in Anatole Litvak’s classic « Aimez-vous Brahms » with Ingrid Bergman, Yves Montand and Anthony Perkins, he wrote « Marina » the music for Roger Vadim’s « L’orgueil » in the anthology film « Les sept pêchers capitaux ». Just for the record, « Marina », lyrics and interpretation by Tony Bennet, would become a short time after a famous standard entitled « The good Life ». In French « La belle vie »…. Does that mean anything to you?

If there hadn’t been the song, no doubt that Sacha, a jazz fan, would have followed French New Wave cinema just emerging. But in this beginning of the 60’s, having already acquired a reputation and image of a popular singer, Sacha concentrated on light hearted films and took part in a series of family films.

In 1962

He shone guitar in hand in « Nous irons à Deauville », a humorous comedy by Francis Rigaud with Michel Serrault and Louis de Funès in the main roles. Here Sacha showed his talent beside Claude Brasseur, Pascale Roberts and Jean Carmet, In 1963 in the same style, he played Roger, lover of Marie-Paule, Annie Girardot, compulsive gambler in « La bonne soupe » by Robert Thomas. Next year, in 1964, he took part with Jean-Louis Trintignant, Francis Blanche, Darry Cowl, Marie-Josée Nat, Jean Poiret, Michel Serrault and tens of other guest stars in Michel Drach’s comedy « La bonne occase » which was a phenomenal success. The film would mark the end of the first part of the Sacha’s film career, as he was too taken up with singing to do both.

Six years later in 1970

’Without apparent motive’, a classic French whodunit of the 70’s

Claude Lelouch, who had left for a while documentary filmmaking to concentrate on crime films, convinced Sacha to return in front of a camera to play … himself! Typically Lelouch! Sacha Distel played Sacha Distel in «°Voyou aux côtés°» by Jean-Louis Trintignant with Danièle Delorme, Charles Gérard and Yves Robert. But it was in 1971 that Sacha would play in his best film: « Sans mobile apparent» by Philippe Labro with Jean-Louis Trintignant, Dominique Sanda, Jean-Pierre Marielle and Stéphane Audran. He played the part of Julien Sabirnou, television star and target of a mystery killer. The American style staging, Labro’s dry and nerveuse style made the film a great classic of French thrillers of the 1970’s.

At this time, Sacha was again confronted with dilemma of having to choose: cinema or singing. Once again, he’d choose the stage: England was ready for him.

Text : Eric Jean-Jean