Serious writers have never had an easy time surviving in the American film industry -- with the exception of a few sympathetic independent producers, Hollywood has generally ground up the work and reputations of serious authors trying to make careers in screenwriting, like so much chopped meat. In France, matters were very different, and no career better illustrated the difference than that of Jacques Prévert. An acclaimed poet, he successfully juggled that activity with a major career as a screenwriter, and only enhanced his reputation in both areas, rather than compromising his work.
Prévert was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine on February 4, 1900, and in the late '20s he worked for an advertising agency, a period during which he also began authoring poetry. He emerged in 1930 as a leading member of the burgeoning surrealist movement, and in 1932 he joined the agitprop "Groupe Octobre," an ideologically motivated performing ensemble whose members also participated in the surrealist fantasy film L'Affaire Est Dans le Sac, co-authored by Prévert and directed by Jacques' younger brother Pierre Prévert. Both brothers took occasional acting jobs onscreen, and appeared in Jean Vigo's renowned L'Atalante (1934).