The "young turks" and Jean Delannoy
We have all read many times of how the young critics at Cahiers du Cinema have savaged Jean Delannoy. Rarely, though, is an attempt made to specify what was said and done during these "attacks'. This is an attempt to begin to draw up a ledger of the reaction of these young critics to Delannoy.
The conseil des dix was a tableau where the reactions of ten critcs to recently released films were recorded. Usually it would break down to 3 to 5 Cahiers regulars and the rest from other newspapers or magazines. Some critics from other venues who would regularly weigh in would be Figaro‘s Claude Mauriac, Le Monde‘s Jean de Baroncelli, Henri Agel, Georges Sadoul, Paris-Presse’s Michel Aubriant and Positif's Robert Benayoun.
The system could be described as:
4 stars -- See it even if you have to go out of town to.
stars -- Go across town if need be to see it.
2 stars -- See it but wait till it is playing in your neighborhood.
1 star --- If you are going to the theater and it is playing, go -- it won't hurt you.
bullet --- No reason to go see it.
4 stars was used only from mid-1957 onward.
“Chiens Perdus sans Collier”
No review of this film was published in Cahiers. the November 1955 noted its released in Paris and commented, “The problems of delinquent youth which a good judge without any illusions does not know how to resolve.”
In the conseil des dix, the film received a bullet from François Truffaut as did non-Cahiers panelist Henri Agel. Alain Resnais and Jacques Rivette both abstained as did non-Cahiers critic Georges Sadoul.
The remaining five critics gave the film a total of seven stars, including one each from André Bazin and Jacques Donoil-Valcroze.
Comparison; The same panel considered René Clair’s “Grandes Manoeuvres”. Nine critics (Alain Resnais abstained) gave that film 21 stars, including Truffaut (1 star), Rivette (2 stars) and Bazin, J D.-V. and Georges Sadoul (3 stars)
This film was not reviewed, either. The June 1956 issue noted its release in Paris and commented, “Contrary to its title, it is above all, the story of Louis XVI told at the same time as that of the Queen and Fersen. This very royalist film does not move, its tone is too cold and affected, only the last scene has any beauty.
In the conseil des dix, eight critics recorded their opinions and six of them bulleted the film while the film received 2 stars in total. François Truffaut bulleted the film as did Bazin, J D.-V., Sadoul and Agel.
Comparisons: “ Voici le Temps des Assassins... ” (Julien Duvivier) The same panel (one abstaining) that month gave this film 11 stars, including two stars from François Truffaut.
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame”
The January 1957 published a short review of this film by André Bazin. He barely mentions Delannoy in the review but does say that he believed that only Abel Gance was up to adapting Hugo’s novel.
In the conseil des dix, the film received two stars from Positif’s Robert Benayoun, seven panelists bulleted the film, including Truffaut and Eric Rohmer.
Comparison: “The Bad Seed” was considered that month also. It received only one star, from Henri Agel. And it received 6 bullets, including one from François Truffaut.
“Maigret Tend un Piège”
Not reviewed by Cahiers, its realease was noted in the March 1957 issue with this comment, “A merited commercial success. Delannoy suits this work as does Gabin. The gifts of the second riase the hand of the first high.”
The film received 8 stars in the conseil des dix that month including 1 from Eric Rohmer. It was bulleted by one critic Feroun Hoveyda, while Jean-Luc Godard and Charles Bitsch abstained.
Comparison: Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” was considered by the same conseil. It received five stars including one each from Godard and Rohmer. Two critics bulleted it -- Robert Benayoun and Georges Sadoul.
Once more, no review for this film. Its release was noted and commented on thusly in the April 1959 issue, “Can we plead ‘attenuating circumstances’ for this nasty pastiche of national conventionalities? Jeanson refinds his youth, Jeanmaire the specter of Arletty and Delannoy is in pursuit of the eternal spectator.”
This film received only two stars, including one from Luc Moullet and three bullets, including Jacques Rivette and Jean-Luc Godard.
Comparison: “Gigi” collected 6 stars that month including one from Eric Rohmer and two from Louis Marcorelles but it also collected four bullets, Rivette, Godard and Moullet and also Georges Sadoul.
“Maigret et l'Affaire Saint-Fiacre”
This film was not reviewed but in the October 1959 issue, its release in Paris was noted with this terse comment, “From one of the dullest Maigret’s of the Arthème Fayard epoque, Delannoy has made an adaptation even duller.’
This film does not seem to have been considered by the conseil des dix.
“Le Baron de L'Écluse”
Also not reviewed on its release Cahiers merely commented,
“ Umpteenth episode in the adventures of Tintin and Audiard.”
The film was given seven bullets, including François Truffaut and Luc Moullet, among the abstainers were Eric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette.
“La Princesse de Clèves”
Not reviewed, it release was noted in the May 1961 issue with the comment, “Umpteenth variation on the eternal triangle.”
The film film received single stars from four panelists and was bulleted by four panelists including Jean Douchet, André LaBarthe and Georges Sadoul. Jacques Rivette and Eric Rohmer abstained.
Not reviewed, its release in December 1961 was noted and commented on in part, thusly, “..to cinematographic nullity, let’s add dishonesty.”
The film was given seven bullets including Jean-Luc Godard, Henri Agel and Georges Sadoul. among the three abstentions were those of Eric Rohmer and Jacque Rivette.
No review. Its release in May 63 was noted by Cahiers with the comment, “..Philippe Heriat thinks he is Henri Jeanson while Delannoy schemes for the laurels of Leo Johannon, a frightening collage.”
The film was not considered by the conseil.
“Les Amitiés Particulières”
This film was reviewed by Jean-Louis Comolli in the August-September 1964 issue of Cahiers as part of its coverage of that year’s Venice festival. He regretted that “Jean Delannoy did not do justice to this project.”
The film received four stars from three panelists. It was bulleted by five panelists including Jean Douchet, Michel Delahaye and Jean Narboni. Jacques Rivette abstained from venturing an opinion.
This film was not reviewed by Cahiers. Its release in Paris was not in the June 1965 issue, “...ersatz pastiche of a parody.”
None of the former “young turks” participated in that issue’s conseil. The film got eight bullets and no stars. Among the younger Cahiers critics, Jean-Andre Fieschi and Jean-Louis Comolli bulleted the film. Among non-Cahiers critics, Georges Sadoul, Robert Benayoun, and Michel Aubriant bulleted the film.
“Le Lit à Deux Places”
On its release in 1966, Cahiers commented, “When the bed is not occupied, this film has no interst. It hasn’t much moer when it is.”Nine panelists bulleted the film including Jean-Luc Godard. Jacques Rivette held out as the lone abstainer.
This film release was noted in the June 1966. The comment in the films released in Paris last month feature said in part, “Let’s propose it for the next prize Giff-Wiff.” Don’t ask. The film was given seven bullets and the other three panelists abstained.
“Les Soleil des Voyous”
On its release in June 1967, Cahiers which again did not review the film commented, “The blow of a club and anesthesia under the control of an expert.
Seven panelists bulleted the film. It received no stars.