Stanley Kubrick and Cahiers du Cinema to Dr. Strangelove
The first article in Cahiers du Cinema to feature Stanley Kubrick appeared in the this issue. A writer named Raymond Haine published his only contribution to Cahiers, a short interview with Kubrick.
Jean-Luc Godard contributes a short review of "The Killing" published in the "Notes on Other Films" section. This review begins, "This is the work of a good pupil, no more." He, then, compares Kubrick and the film unfavorably to John Huston and "The Asphalt Jungle", Robert Aldrich and "Kiss Me Deadly" and Max Ophuls and "Le Plaisir".
He goes on to say in the second paragraph, "If the screenplay is not particularly original and the final episode more so, on the other hand, The adroitness of the adaptation which, adopting systematically a "dechronology' of action, ably interests us in a plot that otherwise does not leave the beaten track."
In the conseil des dix, the film received 19 stars from 9 critics (Eric Rohmer abstained). Positif's Robert Benayoun gave the film 3 stars. Henri Agel (La Revue Francaise), Jean de Baroncelli (Le Monde), Georges Sadoul (Les Lettres Francaises) and producer Pierre Braunbarger all gave the film 2 stars, as did Cahiers regulars Charles Bitsch, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and Feroun Hoveyda.
J-L G was the only critic to give the film 1 star.
The film was ranked second by the conseil that month. "The Sweet Smell of Success" was the top ranked film that month. That film got 19 stars, one more than "The Killing". Unusually, every critic gave both films the same rating, except Jean de Baroncelli who gave Sweet Smell 3 stars.
Charles Bitsch writes a short peice for the monthly "Le Petit Journal du Cinema" detailing the censorial problems faced by the film "Paths of Glory". There were riots in Brussels when the film was shown there and so it was withdrawn from circulation. Then, students protests brought about its reinstatement before a final interdiction.
Bitsch describes the film as being "full of quality".
The monthly Petit Journal du Cinema usually published short pieces on current events in the world of film. However, this article about "Paths of Glory" signed by R L (Robert Lachenay and thus almost certainly the work of François Truffaut) is really a review of the film which would not be shown officially in France for many years.
" "Paths of Glory" is to war films what "The Killing" is to film noir, nothing more, nothing less. Stanley Kubrick has talent; more, by me, than Richard Fleischer, Mark Robson or Robert Wise, less, certainly than Robert Aldrich, Robert Mulligan, or Sydney Lumet. The only audacity in this film arises simply from the fact that it excoriates the French Army which has never been inquired upon on the screen. But, is this audacity or simply an astucious manner of presenting an already proven product in a different package? "Paths of Glory" reveals the same drawbacks as "Attack" -- an objectivity which is compromised two-thirds of the way into the film -- and only some of its qualities. One retains from Kubrick's work, rather than a direction of actors non-chalantly energetic, a fine simplification of line, and, most of all, a sort of very seductively hammered rhythm, a frenzied rapidity and, let's agree on it, a filmic inspiration."
The release of the film "Spartacus" is noted in "Films Released in Paris" section with the comment, "The most beautiful subject in the world (the birth of the idea of liberty, the Christs of Revolution) tarnished in vulgarized by a heavy-handed direction which seeks systematically for effect and botches at every shot. The titles by Saul Bass are the only great moment of the 3 hours."
The film was given no other review.
In the conseil des dix
2 stars -- Henri Agel
1 star -- Michel Aubriant (Paris-Presse), Jean Douchet, Morvan Lebesque (L'Express), Louis Marcorelles, and Jacques Rivette.
bullet -- Jean de Baroncelli, Pierre Marcabru (Arts)
abstain -- Claude Mauriac (Le Figaro), Eric Rohmer
"Killer's Kiss" is reviewed by Claude Beylie. It reads in part, "This title is as exciting as one could wish, the photography grimy, but finally provoking a genuine displacement, able editing (too able with its canned "slices of time", a process perfected in "The Killing"), the interpretations of a clumsy savor, and the general ambiance of an inexpensively made film, down with very small methods. Sympathetic."
In the conseil des dix
2 stars -- Jean de Baroncelli, Claude Beylie, Georges Sadoul
1 star ---- Henri Agel, Jean-Louis Bory (Arts), Michel Delahaye, Jean Douchet, and Jacques Rivette.
bullet -- Michel Mardore, Bertrand Tavernier
Jean Douchet in a round-up of films shwon at that year's Venice Film Festival wrote this regarding "Lolita" (page 46, my translation)
Thursday, August 30: Stanley Kubrick, up until now, has only had subjects which he could approach as a "grandstander", hence his unwarranted reputation. But Lolita allows easy effects only with difficulty. The result: a catastrophe. Shooting his film in England, Kubrick has adopted the cinematic style of the country -- tepid, gruel-like and spiceless. We are far from La Jeune fille, in my opinion Bunuel's best film.
A review of "Lolita" written by Louis Marcorelles is published. Speaking of this films lack of acceptance by most French critics, he wrote, "not one from among them would think about giving Kubrick's film a second chance and see if that were not mistaken." Of the film, he will say " 'Lolita', which is one of the most biting and sarcastic films ever presented under the logo of the old MGM lion, needs to be ferociously defended."
The film was considered by the conseil des dix two months before in January.
3 stars -- Jacques Rivette
2 stars -- Bernard Dort
1 star --- Jean Douchet
bullet --- Henri Agel, Jean-Louis Bory, Claude Mauriac, Georges Sadoul,
abstain -- Jean de Baroncelli, André S Labarthe, Pierre Marcabru
December 1963/January 1964
Jean-Luc Godard's thumbnail critique of Kubrick is printed in the special American Cinema issue. I have provided a translation of that thumbnail which is available at:
"Dr. Strangelove" reviewed by Jean Narboni. He sums his review up by saying, "Here, thus, Kubrick in his seventh film becomes poet and moralist."
Conseil des dix
4 stars --- Robert Benayoun
3 stars --- Jean-Louis Comolli, Michel Delahaye, Jacques Rivette, Jean-Louis Bory
2 stars --- Albert Cervoni, Jean Collet, Jean Douchet
1 star ---- Georges Sadoul
Top Ten Lists (1964) published in Cahiers du Cinema -- January 1965
Jean de Baroncelli, Robert Benayoun, Charles Bitsch, Michel Cournot, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Claude Gautier, Albert Juross, Jean Narboni, Claude Ollier.