PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 April, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 April, 1994, 12:00am

IF EVER the essence of stardom was captured in one actor, it came in the broken-nosed, anti-heroic shape of Jean-Paul Belmondo. He became an overnight star after appearing in Jean-Luc Goddard's 1960 release A Bout De Souffle (Breathless) and was soon at the thrusting forefront of the nouvelle vague (new wave) movement.

Having trained as a boxer, Belmondo could have been a contender (to borrow from a later star) but instead found his glove-affected looks worked in his favour. 'In the early days when I was trying to become famous, I considered I had an ugly face,' he said. 'Well, it seems I was wrong! My face came at the right moment.' Almost as soon as he found fame he started to move away from his pug-nosed stereotypical roles. Films like Moderato Cantabile and Pierrot Le Fou helped Belmondo blend box-office success with artistic diversity; A Monkey In Winter and L'Animal brought controversy. And he had an arresting habit of performing his own stunts.

But true to form he tired of commercial work and, after making nearly 70 movies, he turned to the stage.

The Alliance Francaise is staging a tribute to Jean-Paul Belmondo in May. The movies to be screened include A Bout De Souffle, Les Maries De L'An Deux (A Couple During The Second Year Of The French Revolution), Leon Morin, Pretre (Leon Morin, Priest), Un Homme La Rocca (His Name Is La Rocca) and Le Magnifique. For more details, phone 811-0813.