Jean Renoir always looked kindly on survivors, even if they were unashamed opportunists. In La Règle du Jeu (39), Carette embodied this vagrant figure as the poacher first seen taking a rabbit. He inveigles himself into the household, flirting with the gamekeepers wife, and then conspires with the keeper in the final tragedy in error. But at the end, he shrugs his shoulders and packs, stops to offer a word and a smoke to the gamekeeper, and is off with a “good luck” to Renoirs Octave. A small, dark man, by turns sighing and spiteful, Carette brought a pagan unscrupulousness to the part, as when he sings to the keeper’s wife: “People like me never show themselves twice. If their first shot’s not a bull’s-eye they’re oil in a trice.” That scapegoat charm made Carette a delightful supporting figure in several of Renoir’s films: La Grande Illusion (37); La Marseillaise (38); La Bête Humaine (38); and Elena el les Homines (56).
As a student actor it was in Carette’s character to f ail his exams. Nevertheless, he found work and made his film debut in 1932 in L’Affaire est dans le Sae (Pierre Prévert), die first of over a hundred films. Seldom ranging far outside his sly spiy, these are his best movies: Les Gaietés de l’Escadron (32, M aurice Tourneur); Gonzague ou l'Accordeur (33, Jean Grémillon); Aventure à Paris (36, Marc Allé- gret); Gribouille (37, Allégret); Entrée des Artistes (38, Allégret); Mi nores (39, Edmond T. Greville); Battements de Coeur (39, Henri Decoin); Parade en Sejit Nuits (41, Allégret); Lettres d Amour (42, Claude Autant-Lara); Adieu Léonard (43, Prévert); Si/lvie et le Fantôme (45, Autant-Lara); Les Portes de la Nuit (46, Marcel Carné); in Carnés unfinished La Fleur de l'Age (47); Une Si Jolie Petite Plage (48, Yves Allégret); Occupe-toi d'Amélie (49, Autant-Lara); La Marie du Port (50. Carné); L'Auberge Rouge (51, Autant-Lara); La Fête à Henriette (53, Julien Duvivier); Le Bon Dieu Sans Confession (53, Autant-Lara); L'Amour d'une Femme (53, Grémillon); Si Paris Nous Etait Conté (56, Sacha Guitry); Le Joueur (58, Autant- Lara): Pantalaskas (59, Paul Pariot); Archimède, le Clochard (59, Gilles Grangier); La Jument Verte (61, Autant-Lara); Vive Henri IV Vive l’Amour (61, Autant-Lara); and Les Aventures de Salavin (65, Pierre Granier-Deferre).
But the blithe gypsy’s life ended tragically. He went to sleep one night, with a cigarette in his lips, and burned himself to death.