The French Jewish film director Jean-Pierre Mocky exemplifies the bitterness at the heart of many highly original comedic talents. Delightful comic actors from Bourvil to Michel Serrault enjoyed long, if quirky, professional associations with Mocky, whose career as an actor and director has been as stormy as the best of his films.
Born Jean-Paul Adam Mokiejewski in 1933 to a Polish Jewish family in Nice, Mocky has recently published with Le Cherche Midi Editions in Paris, “Thoughts, Comebacks, and Anecdotes” (“Pensées, répliques et anecdotes”). Even for a director notorious for his bellicose approach to filmmaking, this is a strikingly captious volume.
Mocky explains that as the 1930s wore on, Mokiejewski began to sound “very Jewish, after all,” so the family name was changed. Young Jean-Pierre was sent to Algeria to spend the war in safety, but not before an episode at a French Catholic school during which he was molested by one of the teaching priests. This gave him a permanent loathing of churches, though he adds: “Today, priests have become a minority; I never attack minorities.”