My Gleanings

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Francois Truffaut and Jean Genet

This is my translation of the entry for Jean Genet from Le Dictionnaire Truffaut edited by Antoine de Baecque and Arnaud Guigue. Noel Herpe provided this entry and it appears on pages 178-179.

Jean Genet is, first off, the great literary mirror of Truffaut, a child, if not criminal, at least, unloved and made to feel guilty by all the forms of bourgeois order...In the state of rebellion and aimlessness that is his right after the war, when he has just become seduced by another anarchic self-exaltation, that of Sacha Guitry's Le roman d'un tricheur, we learns that the young man selected the author of The Thief's Journal as a writing master, through a process of psychological identification where an autobiographical undertaking takes shape. This double dimension is plain in this 1951 letter to Robert Lachenay:
"I have article 'Jean Genet, My Comrade'. I don't know if it will be published because of established morality...If you somewhere happen on The Thief's simply is overwhelming, a little like J-J Rousseau (whom I have not read!).
The article wasn't published, but sent to Genet by Gallimard, young man scored a cordial invitation from the writer to pay him a visit...It is the beginning of a friendship which presents slightly the libertarian side of Bazinian messianism: while the apostle of Travail et Culture helped Truffaut to be (re)born in cinephile engagement, Genet cultivate alternatively his desire for encounter and his hatred of dogma.
Undergoing a moral crisis on the threshold of his 40s, he threw himself into this double renewal, "...when I saw you entering my room, I thought I saw myself, almost an hallucination, when I was 19. I do hope that you will preserve, for a long time, this severity of regard and this unaffected, and a little unfortunate, way of expressing yourself."
Genet remained a careful standard for Truffaut throughout his military and guardhouse ordeals, sending him letters, books and other things. There developed between them an odd doomed bond, as if both of them recognize in the other his aura of depression - and wanted to make of it an epical glory through a number of acts which would establish their independence
For Truffaut, in custody as an army deserter, the first of these acts transpires by the keeping of an intimate journal in the manner of Genet, in which the diarist is already beginning a mise-en-scene of his interiority.
"We go to the showers in handcuffs. The first time I was embarrassed since we must cross through the hospital and people stared us down. Then I was ashamed of my shame, for doesn't the Genetienne posture command me to take pride in meriting handcuffs? So, now, before going to the showers, I light a cigarette and set my mouth into a satisfied smile with a touch of aggression."
Beyond this mimicry, Truffaut, in his polemics, practices Genet's lessons most violently by passing from the role of pariah to that of arbiter of precedences; by inverting the hierarchy, the chronicler inflicted on the cinematic establishment the perverse transmutation which the writer reserved to the marginal of society...And one finds this symbolic transgression in The Four Hundred Blows - even if, Antoine Doinel is categorically not a child criminal. Even if, Genet, likewise, distanced himself from Truffaut, accusing him of being a "vainglorious joker", preferring to stay on the other side of the barricade.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Translation of a review of "Claude Chabrol, Par lui-même et par les siens" by Serge Toubiana

Recently published in France, Claude Chabrol, Par lui-même et par les siens collects interviews given by Chabrol to journalist Michel Pascal in the last year of his life along with interviews with others who were close to him. What follows is a translation of a review published by Serge Toubiana, the director of the Cinémathèque Française, on his blog.

It is true, the cover is rather ugly. Even too ugly. It is only just about that Claude Chabrol’s face, drawn as a man-fish, are recognizable swimming in a fishbowl. Strange metaphor. Curious idea, while it would have been so much simpler, and, doubtlessly, more effective, to illustrate the cover of the book Claude Chabrol, Par lui-même et par les siens which has just appeared from the publisher Stock with a recent photo of the filmmaker.
The book was begun during Chabrol’s life by Michel Pascal. The latter did not permit his name to be listed on the cover even though he was the originator of the book. It was, he writes in his preface, it was right after the death of Eric Rohmer, on January 11, 2010 that Chabrol finally made up his mind to undertake the dialogue with a view towards publication. “What about me telling you the my real life story?” he said to him. To read this book, which is easily read and not with emotion, one wonders, was Chabrol getting himself ready for an autobiography? are the things, or aspects of his life that we are unmindful of? did he not, himself prefer his labor, his films, his body of work, to his own life? I thought that I pretty much knew everything about the man, only son of a bourgeois family, his father a pharmacist and a member of the Resistance, his severe, authoritarian mother who kept her son at a distance, and vice versa. “I was not enamoured of her, as François Truffaut. There was without doubt an issue of affection between us. I loved her at a distance trying to wipe away a tear. Madeleine was her name, and, with her, it was pure Catholicism, the appearance of strictness and honesty, the typical bourgeois of the late 19th century holding herself straight up.”
In his films, Chabrol did not settle the score with his mother, that is not a theme running through his work. The impression is that he settled the business in choosing to become a film director. The rest, the Catholic religion, the bourgeois morality, Paul Gégauff, who was his accomplice and scenarist, (perhaps of Chabrol’s best films, Les Bonnes Femmes, Que la bête meure) but also, in a sort of way, his “brain-washer” played a crucial role in the intellectual evolution of the filmmaker, “Without Gégauff, my personal evolution would have been slower and not as joyful. I. doubtlessly, would have succeeded at the same ends, but with much more difficulty. He blew apart the deadbolt at my Judeo-Christian core. He incarnated the freedom that I did not know how to gain all by myself.” No more beautiful homage.
As opposed to others - for example, Truffaut, often cited in this book -, Chabrol did not make films to tell his life-story. And nevertheless... Reading this book, conceived by Michel Pascal, begun with Chabrol and seen through to its conclusion, beyond the death of the filmmaker last September, with the participation of his family - we will come back to this - helps us to understand better how, in the work of the singular person that Chabrol was, things become interwoven. This is borne out, first off, by the frankness with which Chabrol expresses himself when he summons up his own life, through diverse passages which are as much short chapters recounted with a quick spirit and a great deal of humor. One has the feeling that Chabrol is finally letting the mask fall away, that he is no longer looking, as he had so often done, for refuge in a hearty laughter in order to sidestep the heart of the matter.
What emerges, and those who like his films - which I do, while appreciating the human qualities of the man - already know are two things. An unbelievable intelligence in its strategy of the most sophisticated mechanisms that are able to animate the human being, with their defenses, their fears, their buried desires, and also, a taste for joy. The intelligence is something readily shared among filmmakers of Chabrol’s caliber. As for joy, that’s something else. Can it be said that Godard has a taste for joy? I do not believe so. Truffaut? That’s complicated, Truffaut liked his work, his independence, but he bore on his frail shoulders all the worry of the world. Chabrol had a unbelievable capacity for reasoning, for making his sense of logic understood. He quickly found his point of equilibrium, between a relatively stable private life, that of a loving father of a family surrounded by his own, and a rigorous management of his work. Chabrol, speaking of his vision of the world: “My vision of the world was forged between 1955 and 1964, after my military service. I began by noting the bullshit around, I had true radar. I was in the clutches of a frightening spiral of events for I realized the errors being committed by people who had the same opinions as I...” The most important question regarding Chabrol is, how did he conceive this absolutely unique strategy, so different from that of his “New Wave” friends, of “making films ‘theme and variation’”. He tells Michel Pascal, “a pre-meditated act”. And he applied himself, without ever a deviation, making compromises from time to time, but without abandoning the essential: the joy of making these films, films that he choose to undertake. “There is nothing abject in venturing into all fields. I do not see why filmmakers could not be like painters who have the right to make bad canvasses, if only to deepen their art. I am not like Truffaut who wished that all of his films were equals among each other, and who was successful in that way. I wanted to film, whatever happened.”
When you understand that in his work, the taste for joy is the fundamental core, the cornerstone which pulls in all the rest, things follow naturally. Chabrol shot film after film, preserving intact in it his sense of the provocative, a logical rigor, worthy of that of a chess player, in the construction of his mise-en-scene, a continuing and replenished pleasure of exploring the Human Comedy (Balzac, Simenon). He lived a an orderly life, in turn with three women, each of whom will bear witness with intelligence and generosity in the work: Agnès Goute, his first wife, the mother of Jean-Yves and Matthieu, Stéphane Audran, the mother of Thomas, and Aurore, with whom Chabrol lived for more than thirty years, his associate and script supervisor, the mother of Cécile, who was adopted by Chabrol as his own daughter and was his assistant director.
Chabrol, in the last chapter of his remarks, evokes his wanderings. The word is new in his language, you suddenly sense in him something like fatigue - he had just passed the age of 80 -, the fear of running out of steam, of no longer being in a physical situation to make films. The last interview with Michel Pascal dates from August 2010. The man no longer has all of his robustness, he says things very gentle, and deserved, about Gérard Depardieu, with whom the meeting was late but happy (Bellamy). And Chabrol concludes thusly, “Such that they will give me three pennies and a little bit of so that I can show my wanderings, I will continue.”
Aurore Chabrol recounts her encounter with Chabrol at the beginning of the 70s (Juste avant la nuit, a masterpiece). Her testimonial. as those of others who figure in the book (Agnès Goute, Stéphane Audran, Jean-Yves Chabrol, Matthieu Chabrol, Cécile Maistre and Isabelle Huppert) is touching, most sincere and of course, intimate. But it is also in the image of the person, that is to say, droll: “I spiffed him up with nicknames that he more or less appreciated. His favorites were Hercule Poivrot, and the Ayatollah Khomédy. He lived happily, extolling the revolution but detesting the conflicts, forgiving the fly-by-night characters whose laziness or acquiescence he was a victim of... He was an egoist with a heart of gold. And rare were those who succeeded in paying a restaurant tab in his presence. He didn’t lend, he gave.“
To read this books is assuredly to spend some time in private with Chabrol, with him and those close to him, Which permits us to better know this man who spent part of his time making us believe that he was keeping his secrets. The other part of his time, he spent doing his work, a veritable œuvre, to help us better understand human reality.

Claude Chabrol, Par lui-même et par les siens, avec Michel Pascal ; Stock.

Claude Chabrol intime published on Le Blog de Serge Toubiana

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Truffaut "presents" Sacha Guitry

As Criterion prepares to release its Eclipse box-set "Presenting Sacha Guitry", I thought I might share this quote from François Truffaut’s (writing as Robert Lachenay) review of Guitry’s Si Versailles m'était conté which appeared in the April 1954 issue of Cahiers du Cinema.

They [the critics] cold-shoulder him, preferring Rene Clair. I, not able to bear a repeat viewing of Belles des nuits, can freely watch and re-watch Faisons un rêve..., Les Perles de la couronne and Le Roman d’un tricheur . La Poison would make a less dishonorable Delluc than something so dreadfully boring as the likes of Les Fâcheux modernes. (Cahiers du Cinema April 1954 page 64)

Two of the three Guitry films which Truffaut can “watch and rewatch” Les Perles de la couronne and Le Roman d’un tricheur are included in the Eclipse set. La Poison is a Guitry from 1951, a year - and the only year other than the war years - in which no Prix Louis Delluc was awarded. Les Fâcheux modernes better known as Les Casse-pieds took the Delluc in 1948. In the last sentence quoted, Truffaut plays with the French language as “casse-pied” = “boring”.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Prelude to a 10 best films list: Cahiers January 1957

This is a translation of the forward published for the "10 Best Films of the Year" for the year 1956, published in the January 1957 issue of Cahiers du Cinema.

The publications of these lists of the "10 Best Films of the Year" asks for a certain number of observations.
1. They are made up from films presented in Paris in the course of the year 1956, their date of production might be older.
2. They are not made up of either a list Cahiers, or a list Conseil des dix, or of a range of all reviews. The chosen mix is in keeping with the wish to attain a kind of objectivity in making several trends to the exclusion of those frankly anti-Cahiers. Thus, lists by friends, but often in disagreement with us...and among each other.
3. We beg pardon for not being able, due to space limitations, to publish all the responses received. Those omitted have only been so inasmuch as they duplicated others nearer at hand.
4. Just about every response cited the difficulty of keeping to only ten titles in a year particularly bounteous and were accompanied by supplementary titles which we can not publish for fear of bending a rule strictly observed by several others. That said, we acknowledge that this choice presents insoluble cases of conscience and we well know that it is with much soul-searching that many have had to fine-tune among films which they valued. The reader might amuse himself by locating the inevitable bias and the exact criterion which has lead a few to give to their list a significance of tendency rather than of classification. In the ensemble of supplementary responses, it emerges that most would have wished to utilize 20 to 25 selections.
5. Let's also report that several mentioned Night and Fog as "beyond competition"; this work, according to them, cannot, by its nature and its object, enter into competition with other films.
6. We urge our readers to address to us, before February 1st, their own lists whose results we will be happy to compare with the present list.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cahiers du Cinema 12 best films of all-time from 1958

In 1957, in preparation for an event at the Brussels World Fair of 1958 called the "Confrontation of the Best Films in the World", the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique sent out to 150 critics world-wide an invitation to submit their list of the 30 most important films in the history from the beginning of film till 1955. Cahiers du Cinema published a study of those lists and they also conducted an in-house survey of 17 regular Cahiers critics in their December 1958 issue. Their list of the 12 best films up until 1958 is as follows:

Sunrise (F W Murnau)
The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir)
Journey to Italy (Roberto Rossellini)
Ivan the Terrible (Sergei Eisenstein)
The Birth of a Nation (D W Griffith)
Mr Arkadin (Orson Welles)
Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi)
L’Atalante (Jean Vigo)
The Wedding March (Erich Von Stroheim)
Under Capricorn (Alfred Hitchcock)
Monsieur Verdoux (Charles Chaplin)

They went on to explain:
We have adopted a method of balloting considerably different from that of Brussels. Before our choices were directed towards the work, a first ballot designated in order of importance 12 auteurs. We eliminated in the first vote:

13) Max Ophuls
14) Fritz Lang
15) Howard Hawks and Buster Keaton
17) Ingmar Bergman
18) Nicholas Ray
19) Norman McLaren and Robert Flaherty
21) Luis Bunuel and René Clair
23) Luchino Visconti and Alexander Dovchenko

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

1955 Best Films and Reviews Cahiers du Cinema

In 1955, Cahiers du Cinema printed 54 film reviews covering 51 films. Two of the films reviewed -- Rebecca and Hallelujah -- were vintage Hollywood productions. All but one of these reviews were published in the Les Films section. Federico Fellini's La Strada was considered of such an importance that its review appeared in the front Le Sommaire section of the March 1954 issue. The "notes on other films" section was discontinued temporarily. On 17 occasions, the reviewer of the film cited the film on his 10 Best Films list, while on 29 occasions, the film was not recognized in the reviewer's list. Eight reviews were filed by reviewers who did not contribute a list. Twenty-eight of the films made at least one list.
Once again Cahiers published 17 Best-Films lists.
The three older generation Cahiers regulars -- André Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and Pierre Kast
Seven younger generation Cahiers regulars -- Charles Bitsch, Claude Chabrol, Philippe Demonsablon, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut and Eric Rohmer (By the end of 1955, Maurice Scherer had pretty much abandoned signature in his Christian name in favor of the nom de plume "Eric Rohmer".)
The other six posting lists were: critic/teacher Henri Agel, film director and theorist Alexander Astruc, novelist/playwright Jacques Audiberti, producer Pierre Braunberger, critic and future director Ado Kyrou, critic Claude Mauriac, and director Alain Resnais. Once again, Jacques Audiberti was the only participant born in the 19th Century, but this year Pierre Braunberger joined in the the 50-something category. Claude Mauriac and Henri Agel were the only 40-somethings.
The convention here will be for the film title to be in green, the reviewer to be in red, whether or not he listed the film to be in white, followed by an enumeration in magenta of those who had listed the film.

Jan 1955
Les Diaboliques André Bazin NO Jacques Audiberti, Claude Mauraic
Romeo and Juliet Jacques Siclier No List (1954 list) André Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast, Claude Mauriac, François Truffaut
Le Dernier Pont Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Jacques Audiberti, Pierre Braunberger
The Desert Rats Philippe Demonsablon NO (1954 list) Claude Chabrol
Okasan Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO (1954 list) Henri Agel, Jacques Audiberti, Pierre Braunberger, Pierre Kast, Alain Resnais

February 1955
Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves François Truffaut NO
On the Waterfront Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Dial M for Murder Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Charles Bitsch, Jean-José Richer
Le Pain vivant Claude Chabrol NO

March 1955
Le Sommaire
La Strada André Martin No List Henri Agel, Alexander Astruc, Jacques Audiberti, André Bazin, Pierre Braunberger, Pierre Kast, Claude Mauraic, Alain Resnais, Jean-José Richer, Eric Rohmer
Les Films
Sabrina Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Apache/Push Over Claude Chabrol NO/NO François Truffaut (Apache), Jacques Rivette (Apache), Jacques Audiberti (Apache), Alexander Astruc (Apache)
Rebecca Claude Chabrol NO

April 1955
Johnny Guitar Robert Lachenay (François Truffaut) YES Charles Bitsch, Philippe Demonsablon, Alain Resnais, Jacques Rivette
Rear Window Claude Chabrol YES Alexander Astruc, Pierre Braunberger, Charles Bitsch, Philippe Demonsablon, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Alain Resnais, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer, François Truffaut
Rififi Jacques Doniol-Valcroze YES André Bazin, Pierre Braunberger, Pierre Kast, Ado Kyrou, Jean-José Richer
Destination Gobi Philippe Demonsablon NO

May 1955
French Cancan André Bazin YES Alexander Astruc, Pierre Braunberger, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Eric Rohmer
Voyage in Italy Maurice Scherer (Eric Rohmer) YES Henri Agel , Alexander Astruc, André Bazin, Charles Bitsch, Claude Chabrol, Philippe Demonsablon, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut
Le Sel de la Terre Willy Acher No List Henri Agel, Ado Kyrou, Alain Resnais
La Tour de Nesle Robert Lachenay (François Truffaut) NO

June 1955
A Star is Born Charles Bitsch NO Eric Rohmer
Vera Cruz François Truffaut NO Ado Kyrou
This is Cinerama André Bazin NO
The Gold of Naples André Bazin YES Pierre Kast, Alain Resnais
A Far Country Philippe Demonsablon NO

July 1955
The Barefoot Contessa Jacques Doniol-Valcroze YES
The Barefoot Contessa François Truffaut YES
The Barefoot Contessa Philippe Demonsablon YES
The Barefoot Contessa Claude Chabrol YES Henri Agel, Alexander Astruc, Charles Bitsch, Claude Mauraic, Eric Rohmer, Alain Resnais
Hill 24 Doesn't Answer Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Magnificent Obsession Philippe Demonsablon NO
The Romance of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai Willy Acher No List
Battle Cry Claude Chabrol NO

August-September 1955
Marty Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
08/15 André Martin No List
Human Desire Philippe Demonsablon YES Jacques Rivette
Them Fereydoun Hoveyda No List
World for Ransom Philippe Demonsablon NO

October 1955
Death of a Cyclist Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Jacques Audiberti, Pierre Kast, Ado Kyrou
Kiss Me Deadly Charles Bitsch NO Alexander Astruc, Claude Chabrol, Pierre Kast, Ado Kyrou, François Truffaut

November 1955
Les Mauvaises Rencontres Jacques Rivette YES Henri Agel, Jacques Audiberti, André Bazin, Charles Bitsch, Pierre Braunberger, Claude Chabrol, Philippe Demonsablon, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast, Alain Resnais, Jean-José Richer, François Truffaut
Run for Cover Philippe Demonsablon NO
Comicos Jacques Doniol-Valcroze YES

December 1955
Les Grandes manoevres Jean-José Richer NO
Land of the Pharoahs (the direction) Jacques Rivette YES
Land of the Pharoahs (the screenplay) Claude Chabrol NO Charles Bitsch
Hallelujah Eric Rohmer NO
La Pointe courte Annette Raynaud No List
The White Sheik Pierre Kast YES Henri Agel, Pierre Braunberger, Alain Resnais
Lourdes and its Miracles Henri Agel YES Claude Mauriac
The Big Knife Jean-José Richer YES Alexander Astruc, Jacques Audiberti, André Bazin, Charles Bitsch, Pierre Braunberger, Claude Chabrol, Philippe Demonsablon, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast, Eric Rohmer, François Truffaut
Man without a Star Philippe Demonsablon NO
Der Letzte Akt - La Fin d'Hitler Jacques Siclier No List

Reviewed January 1956 and cited for 1955
Lola Montès François Truffaut YES
Lola Montès Philippe Demonsablon YES Henri Agel, Alexander Astruc, Jacques Audiberti, André Bazin, Pierre Braunberger, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast, Claude Mauraic, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer
Ordet Eric Rohmer YES Henri Agel, Alexander Astruc, André Bazin, Charles Bitsch, Pierre Braunberger, Claude Chabrol, Philippe Demonsablon, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette
To Catch a Thief Jean-Yves Goute (Claude Chabrol) YES Charles Bitsch, Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer
The Blackboard Jungle Jean Domarchi No List
The Blackboard Jungle Philippe Demonsablon YES Claude Chabrol, Ado Kyrou
The Man from Laramie André Bazin YES
Raices Pierre Kast YES Ado Kyrou, Jean-José Richer

Reviewed February 1956
East of Eden François Truffaut YES Jacques Audiberti, Alain Resnais
The Barefoot Contessa/Lola Montès Jacques Siclier No List (see above)

Films not reviewed but cited
Continente perduto -- This Italian documentary which won a Jury Special Prize at Cannes and a Grand Silver Plaque at Berlin in 1955 was cited by Henri Agel.
Donne proibite -- cited by Jacques Audiberti
The Seven Samurai and The Creature from the Black Lagoon -- both cited by Ado Kyrou
Prehistoric Women -- cited by Alain Resnais

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

1954 Best Films and Reviews Cahiers du Cinema

Compiling the post on Joseph Mankiewicz and Cahiers du Cinema, I became intrigued that nearly every reviewer of a Mankiewicz film in the decade 1955-1965 went on to place the film on their 10 best film list for the year. Knowing the old dictum that at Cahiers, it was the person who liked the film the most who wrote the review, I have decided to examine the relationship between reviewer and 10 best lists as published by Cahiers. As chance would have it the first year for which Cahiers published lists was 1954 and that year, 1954, was the first year that Cahiers which had been founded in 1951 was the magazine which people usually intend when they refer to Cahiers du Cinema.
In 1954, films were reviewed in a section headed "Les Films". Most reviews were at least 2 pages in length. Occasionally, shorter reviews (about 1 column in length) were published in a subsection headed "Notes on other films".
This first set of "10 best films" of 16 lists was published in the January 1955 issue of Cahiers du Cinema.
Participating were:
Older generation of Cahiers regulars: André Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast
Younger generation of Cahiers regulars: Claude Chabrol, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette, Maurice Scherer (Eric Rohmer), François Truffaut
Others: critic Henri Agel, novelist/critic Jacques Audiberti, producer Pierre Braunberger, critic Ado Kyrou, critic Claude Mauriac, director Alain Resnais, screenwriter Annette Wademant. Truffaut's close friend, Robert Lachenay, whose name Truffaut was using as a pen-name, is also credited with a list. Since there is a 3 film intersect between the Truffaut list and the Lacheny list, my speculation is that the list is that of the real Robert Lachenay and not of the pseudo "Robert Lachenay". Of these, only Rivette and Kast would contribute lists every year (1954-1968) in the first cycle of Cahiers "10 best films lists".
Cahiers du Cinema published 45 full reviews of 46 films in the Les Films section; one film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was reviewed by two critics and inone review, François Truffaut considered three films. On 12 occasions, the reviewer put that film on his ten best list, on 23 occasions the reviewer left the film off his list and no list was provided by the reviewer 12 times. All told 29 films of the films reviewed show up on at least one list. One must bear in mind that films reviewed in January and in February may have been considered as 1953 films.
As a side note, it is interesting to note the youthfulness of this group: Jacques Audiberti (55 years old) was the only individual who was beyond the age of 50. Pierre Braunberger (49 years old), Henri Agel (43 years old) and Claude Mauriac (40 years old) were the only others beyond 40. Almost half (7) were less than 30 years old.
The convention here will be for the film title to be in green, the reviewer to be in red, whether or not he listed the film to be in yellow, followed by an enumeration in magenta of those who had listed the film.
Reviews credited to Robert Lachenay were written by François Truffaut. I am unable to confirm the identity of the reviewer FL. There are a handful of articles published by Cahiers in the first 3 years credited to a Frédéric Laclos. I was unable to run down the identity of this "Frédéric Laclos" as a Google search for that term retrieves a few hits for a young baker with that name and few others for the articles published in that name in Cahiers. I suspect that it was a pen-name, but, that is only speculation.

January 1954
Les films
The Little Fugitive André Bazin NO
The Big Heat François Truffaut NO
Lili Philippe Demonsablon no list
Moulin Rouge Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Les Orgueilleux Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO

February 1954
Le Blé en herbe André Bazin NO Annette Wademant, Pierre Braunberger
Angel Face Jacques Rivette NO
La Red Robert Lachenay/ François Truffaut NO/NO
Julietta Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Notes on other films
The War of the Worlds Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
The Heart of the Matter FL No list
The Glass Managerie FL No list
Peter Pan Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Virgile FL No list
The Magic Box FL No list
Strange Desire of Mr. Bard Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Sadko Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Blackbeard the Pirate Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Ado Kyrou, Robert Lachenay
Sensualidad Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
La Rage au corps Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Girls in the Night Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Le Peintre reveron Lotte Eisner No list
Monsieur Robida Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Les Forceurs de Banquise Philippe Demonsablon No list

March 1954
Ruby Gentry Philippe Demonsablon No List Robert Lachenay, François Truffaut, Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer)
The Life of O'Haru Philippe Demonsablon No List Henri Agel, Jean-José Richer

April 1954
Touchez pas au grisbi François Truffaut YES André Bazin, Pierre Braunberger, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast, Claude Mauriac, Alain Resnais, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette, Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer), Annette Wademant
From Here to Eternity Jean-José Richer NO Jacques Audiberti, André Bazin, Pierre Braunberger, Claude Mauriac
Roman Holiday Jacques Doniol-Valcroze YES Pierre Braunberger, Annette Wademant
Children of Hiroshima Jacques Doniol-Valcroze YES
Notes on other films
L'Ennemi public No. 1 FL No list
Le Defroque Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Si Versailles m'etait conté Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO Jacques Audiberti

May 1954
L'Amour d'une femme Jean-José Richer YES
I Vitelloni André Martin No list Henri Agel, Pierre Braunberger, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast, Ado Kyrou, Alain Resnais, Jean-José Richer, Annette Wademant
It Should Happen to You Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut YES/YES Claude Chabrol, Alain Resnais, Jacques Rivette, Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer), Annette Wademant
Il Capotto Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Henri Agel, Jacques Audiberti, Claude Mauriac, Alain Resnais
Notes on other films
Beneath the 12 Mile Reef Jean-José Richer NO Jacques Rivette
How to Marry a Millionaire Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Annette Wademant, Pierre Braunberger
Thunder in the East Jean-José Richer NO
White Witch Doctor Jean-José Richer NO
A Personal Affair Claude Chabrol NO
Never Let Me Go Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Lure of the Wilderness Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Return to Paradise Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
La Guerra de Dios Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Mam'zelle Nitouche Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
La Revoltes de Lomanach Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Les Intragantes Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Le Guerisseur Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
La neige etait sale Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
The Masterson Affair Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Trouble in the Store Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO

June 1954
Monsieur Ripois Pierre Kast YES Henri Agel, Jacques Audiberti, André Bazin, Pierre Braunberger, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Claude Mauriac, Alain Resnais, Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer)
Monika Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer)
The Wild One Pierre Kast YES Henri Agel, André Bazin, Pierre Braunberger, Ado Kyrou, Claude Mauriac, Alain Resnais
Destinees Jean Mitry No list
The Blue Gardenia Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer) YES Claude Chabrol, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut
Notes on other films
Flesh and the Woman Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Sang et lumière Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Traviata '53 Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut YES/NO
Pain, amour, et fantasie Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Jacques Audiberti, Pierre Braunberger, Annette Wademant
Secrets d'alcove Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Treasure of the Golden Condor Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Dangerous Crossing Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
The San Francisco Story Jean-José Richer NO
So Big Jean-José Richer YES François Truffaut
The Glass Web Jean-José Richer NO
Remains to Be Seen Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut YES/NO
Le Secret d'Helene Marimon FL No List
Act of Love Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Les femmes s'en balancent Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
The Stranger Left No Card Jean-José Richer NO
Quai des blondes Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO

July 1954
Gate of Hell Jean-José Richer NO Henri Agel, André Bazin, Ado Kyrou, Claude Mauriac, Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer)
La Provinciale Jean Domarchi No List Claude Mauriac
El Michel Dorsday No List Henri Agel, André Bazin, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast, Ado Kyrou, Jean-José Richer, Annette Wademant, Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut
L'Affaire Maurizius Jean-José Richer NO
La Lupa Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Pierre Braunberger, Ado Kyrou
Notes on other films
Par ordre du tsar Jean-José Richer NO
Glinka Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Flight to Tangier Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO

August-September 1954
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer) YES Claude Chabrol, Robert Lachenay, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Jean Domarchi No List (see above)
Robinson Crusoe Jacques Doniol-Valcroze YES André Bazin, Claude Chabrol, Pierre Kast, Claude Mauriac, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette
River of No Return/Prince Valiant/King of the Kyber Rifles François Truffaut YES/NO/NO Claude Chabrol(River of No Return), Robert Lachenay(River of No Return), Jacques Rivette(River of No Return), Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer) (River of No Return)
Boots Malone Philippe Demonsablon No List
Notes on other films
Orage Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
The Bandwagon Philippe Demonsablon No List Alain Resnais, Ado Kyrou
Les Infidèles Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
The Glass Wall Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Les Amants de la Villa Borghèse Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
The Secret Conclave Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Crime Wave Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO

October 1954
No reviews

November 1954
L'Air de Paris Jean Desternes No List
The Caine Mutiny Jean-José Richer NO
Three Coins in the Fountain Jean-José Richer NO
Executive Suite Philippe Demonsablon No list Jean-José Richer

December 1954
Le Rouge et le noir André Bazin NO Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Ado Kyrou
Mogambo Etienne Loinod(Jacques Doniol-Valcroze) NO Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer)
Châteux en Espagne Jacques Doniol-Valcroze YES André Bazin, Claude Mauriac, Alain Resnais
Escalier du service Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Les Lettres du mon Moulin André Bazin NO
Father Brown Etienne Loinod(Jacques Doniol-Valcroze) NO Henri Agel
The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T Remo Forlani No list Pierre Kast, Annette Wademant

Some films cited in 1954 lists were not reviewed by Cahiers until 1955, they are:
Renato Castellani's Roméo et Juliette reviewed in January 1955 by Jacques Siclier who supplied no list for 1954. Cited by André Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast, Claude Mauriac, and François Truffaut
Miko Naruse's Okasan reviewed in January 1955 by Jacques Doniol-Valcroze who did not list the film. Cited by Henri Agel, Jacques Audiberti, Pierre Braunberger, Pierre Kast, and Alain Resnais.
Robert Wise's The Desert Rats reviewed in January 1955 by Philippe Demonsablon who did not contribute a list for 1954. Listed by Claude Chabrol.
Vsevolod Pudovkin's The Return of Vasili Bortnikov (French title La Moisson) was not reviewed, as such, in the pages of Cahiers du Cinema. Jacques Doniol-Valcroze had written about the film in a piece he contributed to the June 1953 issue describing a trip he had taken to the Soviet Union. He listed the film. Michel Mayoux wrote about the film in a mini-Pudovkin tribute in the August/September 1953 issue. He provided no list for 1954. Besides Doniol-Valcroze, Henri Agel listed the film.
Although John Huston's Beat the Devil was released in France in August 1954, it was not reviewed in Cahiers until February 1960 when Luc Moullet considered it a review with 4 other films. Cahiers co-editor Jacques Doniol-Valcroze posted the film to his 1954 lists as did Pierre Kast, Ado Kyrou and Alain Resnais.
The High and the Mighty was never reviewed in Cahiers; it appears on the 10 Best films (1954) lists of Claude Chabrol and Annette Wademant.
The Roberto Rossellini-Ingrid Bergman sketch from the film Siamo Donne was cited by both Jacques Rivette and François Truffaut.
The unreviewed MGM musical I Love Melvin was listed by Jacques Rivette.
Byron Haskin's The War of the Worlds was reviewed in February 1954 but was not selected on any list; his The Naked Jungle went unreviewed, however, it does appear on the lists of both Claude Chabrol and Robert Lachenay.
Robert Lachenay would cite three films that were neither reviewed by Cahiers nor listed by any other panelist: No niego mi pasado, Thunder Bay and Les Corsaires du Bois du Boulogne.
Ado Kyrou listed the unreviewed La Nave delle donne maledette.
Finally, the documentary Naufrage volontaire was not reviewed by Cahiers; a not surprising circumstance given that the film was apparently never finished. However, this did not prevent François Truffaut from listing the film 11th on his Ten Best list.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

From the review of Bob the Gambler published by Cahiers du Cinema in October 1956 and signed Jean-Yves Goute. (page 56, my translation)

"I never cease wondering why [Henri] Decaë is not formally recognized as one of the best directors of photography in France. The reasons given to me for this seem to me to be too petty and abject to be true. Yet it is that Decaë has a lot to do with the success of Bob the Gambler. The imagery is sharp without being lifeless, beautiful without being affected, and alluring without being mannered. Some little strokes are rather pleasing to the eye and to the senses like a beautiful phrase which does not trifle. Exactly suiting an intelligent, poetic and fascinating chronicle such as Bob the Gambler."

Jean-Yves Goute was a pseudonym which Claude Chabrol used on a few occasions. A little more than a year after this review appeared, Chabrol began filming his first feature Le Beau Serge with Decaë as director of photography. Decaë lit Chabrol's first four features, before Jean Rabier, an assistant of Decaë's, would become Chabrol's DP. Rabier would shoot virtually everything that Chabrol directed between Les Godelureaux in 1961 and Madame Bovary in 1991. Decaë would also work with François Truffaut on The Four Hundred Blows and film Godard's sketch for the film The Seven Deadly Sins in 1962, one of only two times in the early 60s when Rauol Coutard was not the DP for Godard. (The other time it was Jean Rabier who shot Godard's sketch for RoGoPaG.) Decaë also shot Louis Malle's first two features, Les Amants and Ascenseur pour l'échafaud and also 3 more films in the 1960s. And he continued to be Jean-Pierre Melville's cinematographer of choice.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cahiers du Cinema and Joseph Mankiewicz 1953-1964

Jean-Luc Godard's film career was launch in June 1950 when he published his first review - a critique of Joseph L Mankiewicz's Dragonwyck - in the second issue of Eric Rohmer's Gazette du Cinema. So here is paragraph one of article one in the career of J-L G. (from Godard on Godard edited by Jean Narboni and Tom Milne (their translations, excerpts pages 13).
One day I went along to admire one of Ernst Lubitsch's last productions. It was Dragonwyck, a curious film in which characters from melodrama plagiarize themselves with (h)auteur and gesticulate with a solemnity equalled only on occasion by the severities of William Wyler. In France we have not yet seen The Late George Apley or Escape. But after Somewhere in the Night, the recent release in Paris of The Ghost and Mrs Muir, A Letter to Three Wives and House of Strangers suffices to to establish Joseph Mankiewicz as one of the most brilliant of American directors. I have no hesitation in placing him on the same level of importance as that held by Alberto Moravia in European literature.

Julius Caesar
Reviewed in the December 1953 issue of Cahiers de Cinema by Jean-José Richer in a double review with David Bradley's 16mm version of the Shakespeare's work from 1950. Richer's critique discusses Shakespeare for two long paragraphs before it mentions Mankiewicz (or Bradley). (page 46, excerpt my translation)
Mankiewicz is described as the "celebrated director revealed by A Letter to Three Wives" and confirm by All About Eve. Richer then goes on to say:
A seeming absence of imagination can conceal a most rich inner meaning. And, it is necessary to be on guard against hasty conclusions. Mankiewicz is not Welles; and it pleases him to cast out from the tragedy its spells, to disregard its penumbras, to shun the unformed, everything in short which fascinates the latter - in order to press it in a sharp lighting. Nothing prevents it.

The Barefoot Contessa
The July 1955 issue of Cahiers du Cinema feature four reviews of this film, from Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, François Truffaut, Philippe Demonsablon and Claude Chabrol, of The Barefoot Contessa appeared. Each of these four critics would list the film on their 10 Best Films of 1955.Jacques Doniol-Valcroze (page 40, excerpt my translation)
Must one be reminded of the staging points towards this work, Dragonwyck, Somewhere in the Night, The Ghost and Mrs Muir, Escape, The Late George Apley, A Letter to Three Wives, House of Strangers, No Way Out, All About Eve, People Will Talk, 5 Fingers, Julius Caesar? Maybe this is to remark that - on first view - the side "unrestrained" of Contessa can be found only in Dragonwyck. But on second view? The fragile and tenacious wall of the reality of common sense is crossed joyously and, to the advantage of a curious neo-romanticism in The Ghost and Mrs Muir and, above all, in the extraordinary People Will Talk. Indeed, an irony more or less latent treads its way underneath all his films. But, an anxious irony,facilely melancholy, and, often grave; and isn't this irony a modesty behind which the solid and imperturbable Joe, as his friends call him, hides a poetic and humane sensibility, which, when it finally finds expression, takes on romantic and flamboyant accents that clash loudly with the realistic and conventional norms of the cinema of today? It is thus that Contessa has the further merit of shedding light on the rest of his work and making for its consideration in a new fashion.
François Truffaut (page 41, excerpt my translation)
Seeing A Letter to Three Wives again recently, I perceived that I can no longer overlook Joseph Mankiewicz; vivid content, an intelligence where the whole is but elegance, tastefulness and refinement, content almost diabolical with precision, savior-faire and knowledge, a theatrical direction of actors to the point of impact, a sense of the timing of shots and of the efficiency of effects, that is to be found elsewhere nowhere but in the works of Cukor. All this is the art of Joseph Mankiewicz, his perfect mastery of a genre which limitations it is not yet befitting to outline since its qualities are too often ignored.
Note 658 in Eugene Walz François Truffaut : a guide to references and resources summarizes thusly the review which Truffaut contributed to the June 29 1955 issue of the weekly Arts:
"Barefoot Contessa", the portrait of a woman in four different situations, is the kind of that is either accepted or rejected in toto. Truffaut accepts it for its novelty, intelligence and beauty.
Philippe Demonsablon (page 44, excerpt my translation)
As Le Carosse d'or, The Barefoot Contessa opens many doors partway; it is attempting to find the one which leads the furthest, gleaming of numerous facets, it is attempting to the find the one which projects the most penetrating light,. To count the facets, to enumerate the doors, and to try the keys, and, even, to lift out the boxes of this game, each of which contains a larger one. I do not believe that one could succeed in rendering an account of the singular beauty of this work. It does not define itself through the sum of its elements.
Claude Chabrol (page 45, excerpt my translation)
Does The Barefoot Contessa mark the ruin of the Cartesian spirit? The French public falls into the trap of interpretation, and, into that other one, which is not excused of literary references. It falls into the trap of its own folly, clamoring for adult films and then sneering like a cabdriver when it sees one.
In the February 1956 issue of Cahiers du Cinema, Jacques Siclier contributed a critique which compared The Barefoot Contessa and Max Ophuls Lola Montès. Excerpted from that article (page 46, my translation)
The parallel with Mankiewicz's work which had enchanted us at the beginning of last summer is astonishing. The refined intellectualism of The Barefoot Contessa and the Baroque frenzy of Lola Montès would seem to have no common measure. Yet, in a different manner and spirit, both directors in the end show the same things, to the point that both portraits seem to have an identical model.
Among the younger critics at Cahiers who submitted 10 Best Films list for 1955, Charles Bitsch, Claude Chabrol, Philippe Demonsablon, Jean-José Richer, Eric Rohmer and François Truffaut cited The Barefoot Contessa. Jacques Rivette was the only representative of that group not to cite the film. 5 of the remaining 10 lists - from Alexander Astruc, Henri Agel, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Claude Mauriac and Alain Resnais - also cited the film. The lone Positif critic to post a list, Ado Kyrou, did not cite the film, nor did he cite Lola Montès. He did, however, cite The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Thumbnail from December 1955 "Situation of American Cinema" special issue (page 56, uncredited, my translation)
The contessa went out at 5 o'clock; she was barefoot. To envisage the contribution of a Giradouxesque filmmaker, Joseph Mankiewicz has to be added to Jean Cocteau. Like Max Ophuls, Mankiewicz is bedevilled by woman and women, by Eve and Ava, their advocate, confidante, coaxer and exponent. Let them be fallen, scoffing, plotting, under-handed, his heroines are entitled all of his consideration, concern, sympathy and, let us say it, love. At last, a filmmaker who loves women and does not hide it! Up until Contessa, he was, for us, the most adroit maker of dramatic comedy, a Cukor who would be his own Kanin, a Lubitsch who has read Moravia. That is considerable! But since the contessa stripped off her shoes, all more to fire us up, Adam sees himself tempted with the golden apple by new and over-tanned Eve. An oeuvre such as that of Mankiewicz quickly finishes off the simple-minded legend according to which intelligence, elegance and urbanity don't know how to bloom and flourish in Hollywood. The truth is that he loathes nothing so much as vulgarity, most of all, Hollywood-style... Virile and distinguished, lucid and refined, accomplice of our mates and chronicler of the couple, Joseph Mankiewicz is our bedside filmmaker.

Guys and Dolls
Reviewed by Louis Marcorelles in the January 1957 issue of Cahiers du Cinema. (page 46, excerpt my translation)
Nevertheless, Guys and Dolls written and directed (produced this time by the veteran Samuel Goldwyn) by that prince of smooth talkers, Joseph Mankiewicz, seems to break with a firmly established tradition and mark the intrusion of an uncustomary irony into the genre. Mankiewicz wishes to make both All About Eve and The Bandwagon at once. That is, to blend the New York sophistication of the former with the contagious liveliness and lack of ulterior motive of the latter. His film is maybe only a half success.
In the conseil des dix, among the 2 "young turk" critics sitting, Eric Rohmer gave the film 1 star while François Truffaut bulleted it. The co-editors of Cahiers also participated in the conseil; Jacques Doniol-Valcroze gave the film 3 stars while André Bazin gave it 2 stars. Among, non-Cahiers members of that panel, Pierre Braunberger, Henri Agel and Jacques de Baroncelli gave the film 2 stars, France Roche and J-P Vivet gave it 1 star while Georges Sadoul bulleted the film.
The film appears on no 10 Best Films list.

The Quiet American
Note: The French title for the film is Un Américain bien tranquille which translates as "a really quiet American".
About one year before the release of The Quiet American in France, in its July 1957 issue, Cahiers du Cinema spotlighted the film in its "Photo of the Month" feature printing a photo from the set of the film and a short article by Raymond Jean commenting on the secrecy surrounding the screenplay.
In the August 1958 issue, the film was reviewed by co-editor Eric Rohmer. It begins (page 46, excerpt my translation):
This film is admirable and rightly deserves a disclaimer. Whoever speaks of the politique des auteurs speaks of fidelity, and, indeed, it is easier and more tempting to put one's faith in a man than in a system. Thus, you should not be to astonished to see me take the opposite view of an opinion, expressed here by me, some while ago, apropos of Les Girls. No film in Cahiers has made as much ink flow as The Barefoot Contessa and nevertheless, the cinema which we ordinarily defend in this magazine - a cinema of spatial construction and corporeal expression as our old friend André Martin would say - has barely any relation with that which that which Mankiewicz proposes to us. Even Bergman whose Secrets of Women calls to mind A Letter to Three Wives is quite distant from him.

And five pages later, it ends (page 51, excerpt my translation)
Let's keep ourselves from hasty definitions. Could we have believed, for example, that our old companion, mise-en-scene, would conceal itself behind the mantle of word-play?
Rohmer would proceed to give the film 4 stars on the conseil des dix and to place the film at the top of his list of the "10 Best Films for 1958". (He place Bergman's Secrets of Women 5th.)
Jean-Luc Godard also gave the film 4 stars on the conseil des dix and placed the film at the top of his 10 Best Films list for 1958.
From review published in Arts and reprinted in Godard on Godard critical writings by Jean-Luc Godard / edited by Jean Narboni and Tom Milne (their translations, excerpts pages 82-84).
But, after all, does Joseph L. Mankiewicz make films for the average spectator? Earlier films like A Letter to Three Wives and People Will Talk, and more recently All About Eve, and The Barefoot Contessa in particular, would seem proof to the contrary. In any case these films finally established their director as the most intelligent man in all contemporary cinema. This reputation is merely confirmed by The Quiet American. In turn scriptwriter, producer, director, and then all of them together, Mankiewicz is an all-around athlete who has more than one trick up his sleeve....But it so happens that in Joseph L. Mankiewicz we have the Giraudoux of the camera, and all is not as well as it should be. Writing Pour Lucrece is one thing, filming it another....This is the complaint one might make about Mankiewicz: that he is too perfect a writer to be a perfect director as well. Basically, what is missing from The Quiet American is cinema. It has everything - brilliant actors, sparkling dialogue - but no cinema....What a fantastic film Aldrich - not to mention Welles - would have made of this fine script which improves a hundred per cent on Graham Greene's novel. But Mankiewicz probably got so much enjoyment from the writing that there was little enough left for filming it. Though a matter for regret, The Quiet American is still the most interesting film about for this moment.
Five other "young turk" critics participated on that conseil des dix panel: besides the 4 stars from Rohmer and Godard, Charles Bitsch, Jean Domarchi, Robert Lachenay (most probably, François Truffaut) and Jacques Rivette gave the film 3 stars. Among the 4 other panelists that month: Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and Henri Agel gave the film 2 stars, Georges Sadoul bulleted the film and Pierre Braunberger abstained.
Besides Rohmer and Godard, among "young turk" critics, Claude Beylie, Charles Bitsch, Philippe Demonsablon, Luc Moullet and Jacques Rivette all place the film on their list of the "10 Best Films for 1958". Jacques Demy who was then still an aspiring director who kept company with the "young turk" critics but did not himself write criticism also placed the film on his list for 1958. The lone non-Cahiers French critic among those who posted their lists to Cahiers who cited the film was Henri Agel.

In the April 1960 issue of Cahiers du Cinema, in a review of the newly released film Breathless, Luc Moullet wrote this: (page 30, my translation)
Godard made these two films [Une histoire d'eau and Charlotte et Véronique, ou Tous les garçons s'appellent Patrick] after having admired The Quiet American which inspired in him, in part, this renewal through dialogue and a taste for vertiginous construction.

Suddenly, Last Summer
This film was reviewed in the May 1960 issue of Cahiers du Cinema by Philippe Demonsablon. The discussion of the film in this review is more as a work of Tennessee Williams whose one-act play the film is based on and who is credited as co-writer of the screenplay with Gore Vidal who is never mentioned in the review. However, in considering Mankiewicz's contribution to the film, Demonsablon writes this: (page 56, excerpt my translation)
Everything about this ending of Suddenly, Last Summer demonstrates the diversity of Mankiewicz's talent which one would be wrong to limit to brilliance and intelligence. It reveals in him a poetic vein elsewhere severely constrained. The image of evoked memories frees itself at one time from photographic precision and literary symbolism reaching pure hallucination, much as the lived past rises again in Faulkner's novels. Let us not fear to venture this comparison: it expresses the magnitude of an auteur who, for a long while, has been our bedside filmmaker.
The verdict of the conseil des dix as regards the film was: among Cahiers regulars, Jean Douchet gave the film 3 stars, Luc Moullet gave it 2 stars, Fereydoun Hoveyda and Jacques Doniol-Valcroze gave it 1 star, while Louis Marcorelles and Jacques Rivette bulleted the film. Among the others on that panel: Pierre Marcabru gave the film 2 stars, Jacques de Baroncelli gave it 1 star and Jean-Pierre Melville and Claude Mauriac bulleted the film.
The film was nominated to the 10 Best Films of the year lists of Henri Agel, Philippe Demonsablon, Jean Domarchi, and Jean Douchet.

For the Dec1963/Jan1964 special issue of Cahiers du Cinema on American Cinema, this thumbnail critique of Joseph Mankiewicz was provided by Jean Douchet. (my translation.)
And the word was made Mankiewicz, who bases his direction entirely on the energy of the word. It is the vehicle of the extreme intelligence which his characters live, ands he motivates them to mark with an indelible imprint, through the construction of a durable body of work, their passage through this world. But it also remains the instrument which allows these mediocrities to warp the wall of plots, counter-plots, and machinations stand in the way of their plans. It is, above all, a tangible sign of the times which promotes the dissolution of a sumptuous construction built on the sands of time. At the same time, the word, which is gesture, acts and it loses itself in the brouhaha of that which is opposed to it before it steals away. It is magical (from whence the fact that all Mankiewicz's films are in flash-backs or reminiscences) and, in that way, illusion. This vehicle without which man can not be, reveals itself to be his worst enemy. Off-shoot of silence, the word is the pathetic and trifling proof of his existence: a murmuring rising up into the universe to signal the presence of a being whose grandeur comes from the avowal of his frailty. Such is Mankiewiecz, the cinematic virtue of the word.

Reviewed in the March 1964 issue of Cahiers du Cinema by Jean-Louis Comolli (page 35, excerpt my translation
The function of the word - And, firstly, (pushing aside an immediate platitude) the word in the work of Mankiewicz, as, in the work of all great filmmakers is not an end, but, among others , a means. Where, then, is the heart of the matter? What counts more than it, first off, for Mankiewicz (as - oddly enough ? - for Godard) (both of whom, nevertheless, make profuse use of it) is the measure more or less asserted of the presence or absence of a being in face of others and also in face of its creations and its dreams. Let's observe that these variations of presence and absence, of assurance and effacement, of an advent and a vanishing constitiute from the very fact of image in motion, the lone topic specifically cinematic.
On the conseil des dix, among the Cahiers contingent, Jean Douchet gave the film 4 stars, Jean-Luc Godard gave it 2 stars while Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and Jacques Rivette bulleted the film. Among the non-Cahiers contingent, Jean Collet gave the film 3 stars, Jean-Louis Bory gave it 2 stars, Jean de Baroncelli and Albert Cervoni gave it 1 star while Positif's Robert Benayoun bulleted the film as did Georges Sadoul.
The film shows up on the 10 Best Films of the year lists of Pierre-Richard Bré, Jean-Louis Comolli, Jacques Demy, Jean Douchet, Michel Mardore and Bertrand Tavernier.

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