Jacques Haik was born in Tunis in 1893. At 17, he worked for a British film company. At 20, he ran a British film import house. He launched the first Chaplin comedies, giving the comic his French name, Charlot.
He became an independent distributor specializing in American companies, at the same time moving into producing with his first silent films (Le Bossu, La Grande Epreuve, etc.). In 1924, he founded Les Etablissements Jacques Haik.
The advent of sound threw the production sector into disarray. Haik took up the new industrial challenge. He associated with the Banque Courvoisier to underwrite his expansion. He created the Olympia, opened the Rex and other prestige cinemas throughout France. He built film studios in the Paris suburbs of Courbevoie and La Garenne. In the early years of the talkies, he produced over two dozen films, boasting such talent as Annabella, Arletty, Jules Berry, Danielle Darrieux, Harry Baur, Victor Boucher, etc. At the time, he ranked among the three top French producers.
1931. The depression forced the Courvoisier Bank to bankruptcy and arrested the fortunes of Les Etablissements Jacques Haik. (It also led to the ruin of the near-totality of French and American production firms). Haik lost all his companies and properties. He was never to entirely recover from the debacle.
In 1934, thanks to some loans, he created Les Films Régent. From 1934 to 1939, he produced a dozen films, among them Claudine à l'Ecole. He built a cinema, Le Français, on the Boulevard des Italiens. But the great élan was broken. Still, Haik managed to package new films and build more cinemas. In 1939, the financial situation of his companies went into the black. Then the war broke out...
Pursued by the Germans on two
counts - he was a Jew and he had produced an anti-Hitlerian propaganda
film, Après Mein Kampf, mes crimes - Haik hid for five months in
a bedroom in Tunisia. In 1943, he carried out propaganda missions throughout
the Arab world for the Free French. During this time in Paris, his assets
and theaters were confiscated and "aryanized." When he returned to France
in 1945, he had nothing to his name.
He spent his last years recuperating his films and his cinemas. He died in 1950.