Jacques Prevert , a very popular poet in France, was also held in critical esteem. Military service took him to Istanbul in 1920, and on his return to Paris in 1922 he became affiliated with the surrealists. His themes dealt with everyday life, love, and freedom from oppression.
He is noted for the number of film scenarios of the poetic realism school that he wrote during the ‘30s and ‘40s for directors Jean Renoir, Jean Gremillon and most importantly Marcel Carne. Les Portes de la Nuit (1946) introduced one of many Prevert poems, “Les Feuilles Mortes,” set to music by his friend Joseph Kosma and performed in the film by Yves Montand. In 1949, when its title was changed to “Autumn Leaves” with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, it was recorded by Jo Stafford and subsequently others, finally becoming a hit with pianist Roger Williams in 1955.
Prevert’s satirical film collaborations with his brother Pierre were unsuccessful, but his scenario for Carne’s Children of Paradise (1945) was nominated for Best Original Screenplay.