Jacques Deray, 74, a French director of classic thrillers and crime films, died Saturday night at his home in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, of unstated causes.
Born Jacques Desrayaud in Lyon, he studied acting in Paris and then became an assistant to such directors as Luis Bunuel.
Deray was known for his fascination with American cinema, his meticulous techniques and his collaboration with big-name European actors.
In his four-decade career, almost all of his works were crime dramas.
Deray made nine movies starring suave, steely-eyed Alain Delon, including "La Piscine" ("The Swimming Pool"), a 1969 psychological drama set in the beach resort of St. Tropez.
Another was "Borsalino," which co-starred Jean-Paul Belmondo and focused on crooks in the bustling southern port city of Marseille.
French President Jacques Chirac issued a statement praising Deray's "innate sense of storytelling and action" and adding that "France has lost one of its most talented filmmakers."
French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin also praised Deray's movies, calling them legendary and a great example for future filmmakers.