Roger Vadim, 72, the famed French director whose films and life revolved around female beauty and whose romances included Brigitte Bardot, Jane Fonda and Catherine Deneuve, died of cancer Feb. 11 at a hospital here.

He was best known for the groundbreaking 1956 film "And God Created Woman," about a young married woman's quest for sexual freedom. The film brought his new wife, Bardot, instant fame and enjoyed commercial success around the world.

The scene in which Bardot dances barefoot on a table remains one of the most titillating in French cinema.

"There was really nothing shocking in what Brigitte did. What was provocative was her natural sensuality," Mr. Vadim told the Associated Press in a 1988 interview.

The film defined the content and set the tone for many of Mr. Vadim's films, including the 1968 "Barbarella," an avant-garde sci-fi romp starring his new blond wife, Fonda.

Mr. Vadim also earned praise as a producer, writer and theater director in a career that spanned half a century. His most recent work included several made-for-television mini-series. His films sometimes were superficial in content but always technically strong and full of visual elegance.

Mostly, though, his films were known for their beautiful women.

"You wouldn't ask Rodin to make an ugly sculpture or me to make a film with an ugly woman," Mr. Vadim told AP. "That's my style, that's my nature."

He cast 26 movies with leading ladies ranging from the elegant Deneuve to earthy Angie Dickinson, intellectual Jeanne Moreau and Susan Sarandon. In 1988, he did a remake of "And God Created Woman," starring Rebecca De Mornay.

But he was best know for the original "And God Created Woman," in which Bardot played a woman who marries in order to escape an orphanage, only to fall for the man's younger brother.

"I wanted to show a normal young girl whose only difference was that she behaved in the way a boy might, without any sense of guilt on a moral or sexual level," Mr. Vadim said.

Mr. Vadim was born Roger Vladimir Plemiannikov in Paris, the son of a diplomat. He met Bardot when she was 15. He was behind her early career as a fashion model, and later introduced her to the cinema. They married in 1952, when she was 18 and he was 24.

His other films include "Sait-On Jamais?" (No Sun in Venice) (1957), "Les Bijoutiers du Clair de Lune" (The Night Heaven Fell) (1958), "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," (1959), "Et Mourir de Plaisir" (Blood and Roses) (1960), "Pretty Maids All in a Row" in the United States (1971), "Dom Juan" (1973) and "The Hot Touch" (1981).

He also wrote several books, including his autobiography, "D'Une Etoile a l'Autre" (From One Star to the Next), in which he described his marriages to Bardot and Fonda.

Mr. Vadim had four children with four women, three of whom he married.

After divorcing Bardot, his wife of five years, in 1957, he married Annette Stroyberg, with whom he had his first child, Nathalie. Stroyberg starred in Mr. Vadim's 1960 film "Blood and Roses."

After his marriage to Stroyberg failed, Mr. Vadim lived with French actress Catherine Deneuve, with whom he had his second child, Christian, now a French actor. Deneuve starred in Mr. Vadim's 1962 "Vice and Virtue."

In 1967, he married Fonda, and they had a daughter, Vanessa. Eight years later, Mr. Vadim married Catherine Schneider, with whom he had his fourth child, Vania.

In 1990, he wed for the fifth time, marrying actress Marie-Christine Barrault, who survives him.