My Gleanings

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Jacques Demy -- 10 Best Films -- Cahiers du Cinema 1958-1963

Though most film historians tend to paint a picture of their being two separate strands to the "New Wave" -- the right bank Cahiers click and the Left Bank group (Resnais, Marker, Varda and Demy) , the actuallity seems to have been somewhat different. Though the "Left Bank" directors did not contribute articles to Cahiers in the 1950s, excluding Chris Marker (who was sometines credited as "Christian" Marker) who contributed six articles to Cahiers in that period, the editors and staff at Cahiers certainly considered those four aspiring directors. A short article in [Cahiers] "Petit Journal" in the July 1958 issue, which was headlined "Cahiers at the foot of the wall" and which details the tentatives of seven members of the Cahiers family to break into film production, ends on this note:
Jacques Demy, whose “Le Bel Indifferent” went far from passing unnoticed, is writing and preparing a film on “la foi".
Selections are color-coded to selections at the end.
1........Touch of Evil (Orson Welles)
..........White Nights (Luchino Visconti)
3........Bonjour Tristesse (Otto Preminger)
4........Les Girls (George Cukor)
..........Montparnasse 19 (Jacques Becker)
..........Secrets of Women (Ingmar Bergman)
..........Une Vie (Alexander Astruc)
..........The Quiet American (Joseph L Mankiewicz)
..........Elevator to the Gallows (Louis Malle)
..........Il Grido (Michelangelo Antonioni)
1........Pickpocket (Robert Bresson)
2........Tales of Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi)
..........Au Coté de la Côte (Agnes Varda)
..........Hiroshima, mon Amour (Alain Resnais)
..........Ivan the Terrible (Sergei Eisenstein)
..........Ossessione Luchino Visconti)
..........The 400 Blows (François Truffaut)
..........Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks)
..........Head against the Wall (George Franju)
..........Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
1........Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard)
2........The Testament of Orpheus (Jean Cocteau)
3........L’ Amerique Insolite (François Reichenbach)
..........L’ Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni)
..........Les Bonnes Femmes (Claude Chabrol)
..........Sansho the Bailiff(Kenji Mizoguchi)
..........Moonfleet (Fritz Lang)
..........Shoot the Piano Player (François Truffaut)
..........Le Trou (Jacques Becker)
..........Zazie dans le Metro (Louis Malle)
1........Rocco and His Brothers (Luchino Visconti)
..........The Horse That Cried (Mark Donskoy)
3........The Criminal (Joseph Losey)
..........Description D’un Combat (Chris Marker)
..........Paris Belongs to Us (Jacques Rivette)
..........A Woman is a Woman (Jean-Luc Godard)
..........Le Monocle Noir (George Lautner)
..........La Pyramide Humaine (Jean Rouch)
..........The Sacrigeous Hero (Kenji Mizoguchi)
..........Last Year in Marienbad (Alain Resnais)
(in disorder)
Splendor in the Grass (Elia Kazan)
Vivre sa Vis (Jean-Luc Godard)
Cleo from 5 to 7 (Agnes Varda)
Jules and Jim (Françcois Truffaut)
Viridiana (Luis Bunuel)
Hatari (Howard Hawks)West Side Story (Robert Wise/Jerome Robbins)
Une Grosse Tete (Claude de Givray)
The Trial (Orson Welles)
Le Signe du Lion (Eric Rohmer)
(alphabetical in French)
Adieu Philippine (Jacques Rozier)
The Exterminating Angel (Luis Bunuel)
Bay of Angels (Jacques Demy)
Les Carabiniers (Jean-Luc Godard)
Cleopatra (Joseph L Mankiewicz)
The Leopard (Luchino Visconti)
Contempt (Jean-Luc Godard)Muriel (Alain Resnais)
The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock)
The Trial of Joan of Arc (Robert Bresson)
Francois Reichenbach on his deathbed told Daniele Thompson that he wished to be buried in Limoges. When Thompson protested to him that Limoges was too far away for his friends to attend his enterment, he said to her, "Those who love me can take the train" and voila the beginnings of the film with that title written by Thompson and directed by Patrice Chereau
Rare appearance on a Cahiers ten best list for this successful director of films de commande (programmers)
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6 ....................6

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Michel Simon teaches Claude Berri a lesson in directing

This anecdote is from Claude Berri’s memoir “Autoportrait”. It recounts an event on the first day of shooting for his first feature film which he directed Le Vieil Homme et l'Enfant (The Two of Us) in 1967. (from pages 52-54 and my translation)
“I could not believe my ears, Michel’s [Simon] voice had adopted a peculiar tone, not his own. It was artificial, it was not him. What was he trying to do to me? I felt that his acting was false. “Cut!”. I took him aside and softly, very gently, I asked him for another take, this time more natural, more himself. For me, Michel and the old man were one and the same, such as he was in life, that was perfect. He was the character. He only had to open his mouth without changing his voice. That is, I did not say it. I did not have to finish my sentence when, in front of everyone, he roared out, “Nobody directs Michel Simon.“ Magnificent! I will never forget this! In a few seconds, he had given me the best lesson in direction of actors that you could receive in your life. How much film directors should remember this. Me, I have never forgotten it. Several times, before La Reine Margot, I tried to get Patrice Chereau to take profit there. An actor is not directed - or very little - an actor is chosen. If one directs the actor, one has made a poor choice. Good actors know what they are doing in a role. They do their of the creation in the interpretation. The director is the first spectator. At the end of every take, the actor can see if they are good or not in his eyes.”

Speaking of his reaction to his viewing of the first day’s rushes, Berri commented, “Comme il avait eu raison de m’envoyer chier.“ (“As he was right to tell me to go shit in a hat.”)
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Monday, October 23, 2006

Alexander Astruc : Birth of a New Vanguard -- The Camera-Stylo

In March 1948. L'Ecran Français published a short article by Alexander Astruc, Birth of a New Vanguard -- The Camera-Stylo which became the first important document of the era of the "New Wave". It is impossible not, for instance, to see it influence on François Truffaut's A Certain Tendency of French Cinema .
This is a translation of that article that I prepared. The article is available in French on-line at:
It is also republished in facsimile form and very small type in French new wave by Jean Douchet ; in collaboration with Cédric Anger ; translated by Robert Bonnono on page 40.
The article is preface by a quote from Orson Welles "Ce qui m’intéresse au cinéma, s’est l’abstraction". I have tried to find the exact English quote and the bes I can do is one site "Cinema as a means of expression fascinates me". Whether that was the origianl English, I can not say.
It is impossible to not see that something is happening in cinema. We risk going blind before this current production which spreads from the beginning of the year to the end an immobile visage where the atypical has no place.
For today, cinema is fashioning itself a new visage. How do we see this? It suffices just to look. One would have to be a critic not to see the stunning transformation of that face which is taking place befroe our eyes. What are the works through which this new beauty is developing? Exactly those which the critics ignore. It is not by chance that from Renoir’s The Rules of the Game to Orson Welles passing through The Ladies of the Bois du Boulogne, all that sketches out the lines of a new tomorrow escapes the critics, for whom, in any case, it can not but escape.
But it is significant that the works that escapes the blessings of the critics are those which we are in agreement about. We grant them, if you want, an precursory character. That is why I speak of the vanguard. There is a vanguard every time something new is happening.
Let’s be more specific. Cinema is quite simply in the process of becoming a means of expression which all the other arts have been before it, in particular painting and the novel. After having been successively, a fairground attraction, an entertainment analogous to boulevard theater, or the means of preserving the images of an epoque, it is becoming, little by little, a language. A language, in other words, a form in which and through which an artist is able to express his thoughts, as abstract as they might be, or to translate his obsessions exactly as he might do today in an assay or a novel. That is why I call this new age of cinema, the age of the Camera Stylo. this image has a very precise meaning. It means that the cinema will tear loose from the tyranny of the visual, of the image for the image, of the immediate anecdote, of the tangible to become a method of writing as fluid and subtle as that of written language. This art, endowed with all possibilities but a prisoner of all prejudgments, will not persist in eternally slogging away in the petty domain of realism and social fantasy that has been accorded to the frontiers of the popular novel when they do not make of it the chosen domain of photographers. No domain should be forbidden to it. The most profound meditation, a view point on human production, psychology, metaphysics, ideas, passions its dominion. Better, we say that the ideas and visions of the world are such that today cinema alone can interpret. Maurice Nadeau wrote in an article in Combat, “Were Descartes alive today, he would be writing novels”. I beg Mr. Nadeau’s pardon but today Descartes would be closed up in his room with a 16mm camera and he would write the discourse on method on film, for his Discourse on Method would be such today that only cinema would adequately express it.
It must be understood that until now, cinema has been only spectacle. this owes very exactly to the fact that all films are projected in theaters. But with the development of the 16mm and television, the day is not far off when everyone will have a projection apparatus at home and will go and rent at the corner bookstore films written on any subject, in whatever form, as likely literary criticism, novel as mathematical treatise, history, popularization, etc. From that time on, it will no longer be permissible to speak of a cinema. There will be cinema as today there are literatures, for cinema as literature, before being a distinctive art, is a language which is able to express any area of thinking. this idea that cinema expresses thought is perhaps not new. Feyder has already said, “I can make a film based on Montesquieu’s “The Spirit of the Laws .” But Feyder was imagining an illustration of “The Spirit of the Laws” in images as Eisenstein had imagined an illustration of Capital ( or an imaging ). As for us, we say that cinema is in the process of discovering a form which becomes a language so rigorous that thought could be written directly on the film without even passing through those unwieldy combinations of images that made for the delights of silent film. In different terms, to say that time has elapsed, there is no need to show dropping leaves following an apple tree in flower and to indicate that the hero wants to make love, there is much the same other ways of proceeding that that which consists in showing a saucepan filled with milk overflow onto the gas as Clouzot did in Quai des Orfèvres.
The expression of thought is the fundamental problem of cinema. The realization of this language has obsessed all the theoreticians and creators of cinema from Eisenstein to the scenarists and adaptors of the talking film. But neither the silent film, because it was hostage to a static concept of image, nor the classic talking picture, such that it exists today, has been able to resolve adequately this problem. Silent film thought that it worked the problem out with montage and the association of image. Recall Eisenstein’s famous declaration, “ Montage is for me the method of bringing movement (in other words, idea) to two static images.” And as for the talking picture, it has been content to adopt the procedures of theater.
The fundamental event of this last years is the realization which is in process of becoming a dynamic character, that is to say meaningful for the cinematic image. Every film, because it is first a film in movement, said otherwise, it unfolds in time. is a theorem. It is the place of a linking of implacable logic, which goes from one end of itself to the other, or better yet of a dialectic. This idea, these realizations, that silent film tried on the surface to bring into existence by a symbolic association, we have learned exist in the image itself, in the unfolding of the film, in every gesture of the characters, in each of their words, in the movement of the camera which ties objects and characters to objects. All thought, like all feeling, is a relationship between one human being to another human being or some objects which make part of his universe. It is in explaining these relationships and in drawing an objective path that cinema can be the true place of the expression of thought. From today, it is possible to give cinema works equivalent in profundity and significance as the novels of Faulkner and Malraux, as the essays of Sartre and Camus. In the meantime, we have before our eyes a significant example: It is Man’s Hope by Malraux where, for the first time perhaps, cinematographic language gives an exact equivalent of literary language.
Let us now examine the concessions to the false necessities of cinema. Scenarists who adapt Balzac or Dostoyevski excuse themselves for the mindless treatment that they force works to undergo beginning from which they construct their scenarios by citing some cinematic impossibility to realize psychological or metaphysical backgrounds. In their hands, Balzac becomes a collection of engravings where fashion holds the highest place and Dostoyevski suddenly begins to resemble the novels of Joseph Kessel with Russian-style drunkenness and troika races in the snow. Now, these prohibitions are only made of a laziness of wit and a lack of imagination. Today’s cinema is capable of realizing any order of reality whatever. what interests us in cinema today is the creation of this language. We have no want to remake poetic documentaries or surrealistic films every time we can slip away from commercial necessity. Between the cinema of the 1920s and filmed theater, place for a cinema which frees.
This implies, you must understand, that the scenarist makes the film himself. Better yet, that there no longer be scenarists, for in such a cinema, this distinction of auteur and realisateur makes no sense. Direction is no longer a means of illustrating or presenting a scene, but of true writing. The auteur writes with his camera as a writer writes with a pen. How in this art where a visual and sound strip unrolls developing through some anecdote (or with no anecdote, it does not matter) and in a certain form, a concept of the world, could we make a difference between the one who thinks the work out and the one who writes it? Imagine a novel by Faulkner written by someone other than Faulkner. And Citizen Kane, would it be acceptable in any other form that the one Orson Welles gave it?
I well know yet once that this term avant-garde will make you think of surrealist films and other films termed abstract of post-war period of the first World War. But that avant-garde is already rearguard. It looked to create its own domain in cinema: we are looking on the contrary to understand it and to make for it the language the most vast and transparent that can be. Problems such as the translation of the time of verbs or logical connections interests us a lot more than the creation of this visual and static art dream by surrealism which meanwhile adapted to cinema only the researchings of painting and poetry.
There it is. It is not about a school or a movement but simply of a tendency. Of a realization, of a certain transformation of cinema, of a possible future and of the desire we ahve to hasten this future. Of course, no tendency can demonstrate itself without works. These works will come, they will see day. the economic and material difficulties of cinema create this astounding paradox, that it is possible to speak of what is not yet, for if we know what we want, we do not yet know if, when and how we can do it. But it is impossible that cinema not develop. this art can not live with eyes turned toward the past, brooding over memories and nostalgia for a bygone epoque. Its visage is already turned toward the future and, in cinema as elsewhere, there is no possible concern but that of the future.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The "A Bout de Souffle" ("Breathless") -- treatment by Francois Truffaut

This is François Truffaut's treatment which became Jean-Luc Godard's film A Bout de Souffle (Breathless). It is available in French at this site:

We will speak here of greatly unattractive things
MARSEILLES, Tuesday afternoon
A quiet Lucien appears to be reading the Paris-Flirt on the terrace of a cafe at the lower end of La Cannebière. In reality, he is watching the coming and going of cars outside the Vieux-port.
Near the boats which take tourists to visit the Château d'lf, a young woman give Lucien a signal. She points out an automobile with US Army license plates about to be parked. Its occupants, an American officer, his wife and their children, go to buy get tickets for the Chateau D’If. They are under the surveillance of Lucien and the young woman who act like the others and seem to not know each other.
When the boat has gone some distance away, Lucien goes up to the auto- a DeSoto convertible- and appears to be examining it as if it belonged to him, checking the tires and the oil.
The young girl asks Lucien to take her with him, but he refuses and gets behind the steering wheel and starts the car by bringing into contact the wires under the dashboard.

Several hours later
We find Lucien on the Route Nationale. He must be accustomed to driving stolen cars for his is in excellent form and all by himself behind the wheel he is singing at the top of his voice.
He drives along side an Alfa-Romeo driven by a pretty woman and asks her, if by any chance her name is Mrs Lucien Poicard. She shakes her head “No” and he tells her that this is too bad because he is Lucien Poicard.
A little further on, we see him slow down to pick up two woman who are hitchhiking. But passing by them he decides that they are too ugly and speeds up even faster.
From time to time, Lucien carries on a monologue out loud for himself. And so we learn, by hints, what Lucien’s present projects are.
1) To procure money in by committing a more or less shady act.
2) Lucien wants to see a certain Patricia whom he hopes to convince to go abroad with him.
But a third problem will complicate Lucien’s affairs. Day is ending while he drives in the direction of Paris near Sens. Aggravated by a Renault 2 CV which does not dare to pass a truck, Lucien overtakes both vehicles smack in the middle of a turn before a slope in second place. His tires go well over the yellow line and the sound of a whistle rings out. An motorcycle cop keeping watching from the top of the slope signals him to pull over to the side of the highway. Lucien, who is in a stolen car, rushes ahead on the contrary as if he were staring death in the face.
The pursuit of Lucien ends in a small village. Lucien takes a side street. It’s a dead-end. His motor stalls. Lucien takes from a map case a revolver that he had just now found under a box of candles. The motorcycle cop removes his gun. everything happens quickly. Lucien shoots the motorcycle cop without realizing what he was doing. He is furious with himself. He has a great need to get himself a likely story.

We discover Lucien again, in Paris
The early morning. He must have hitchhiked because a small Danish car lets him off at St. Michel. Lucien goes into a telephone booth, but has a change of mind and hangs up without making a phone call. He goes out and starts to walk toward the docks. He is in shirt-sleeves, having forgotten his jacket in the automobile after he shot the motorcycle cop.
He buys a morning newspaper. It does not yet report the murder. Lucien goes into a little hotel which looks out on the Seine. He asks if miss Patricia Franchini is there. The caretaker who is in the middle of washing the steps tells him no. Lucien insists. But Patricia isn’t there, proof of it is that her key is on the rack. Lucien says that he is going to leave a note. He takes advantage of the caretaker washing the steps to take the key. He goes into Patricia’s room and the bed is made. He rummages around left and right. He tries a jacket on. Too small. He finds change in a drawer, but they’re American coins. He leaves the room after washing his face.
We see him enter the Royal Saint-Germain and ask the price of a plate of ham and eggs. He counts his money and he does not have enough. Heorders two ham and egg plates and says that he will be back.
Lucien crosses Boulevard Saint--Germain, passes in front of La Hune, and goes into the courtyard of a building aside the Cafe de Flore. We discover him in the alley which runs along the maids rooms.
Behind a door, Lucien hears a female voice singing one of the songs from “La Belle Hélène”. Lucien enters quietly without knocking. A girl, wearing pajama bottoms, is drying her hair. She turns around and does not seem surprised. We learn that she and Lucien had lived together on Saint-Germain seven or eight months ago. She makes commercials and does TV now and has abandoned the “neighborhood”. Lucien is less forthcoming about himself. He is not managing badly. He should be receiving two and a half million francs this afternoon. While he is waiting, would she be able to lend him two or three thousand francs? She say that she does not have it. Lucien invites her to breakfast, hoping that she will pay. But she is in a rush. Lucien takes advantage of putting on a shirt and when her head is covered, he extracts a few thousand franc bills from he pocketbook. Then, he says that he will see her soon and leaves. It is eight o’clock on Wednesday morning.

Towards ten o’clock, Lucien enters a travel agency on the Champs-Élysées. He has bought a second-hand jacket and dark glasses. Lucien asks one of the employees if Michel is there. he is told that Michel is there only from eleven o’clock. Lucien says that he will return and asks for the address of the American newspaper the “New York Herald-Tribune”.
A string of linking shots of Lucien going to the “New York Herald”. He enters the hall, addresses a young girl in a yellow jersey who is behind the information window and asks if a Miss Patricia Franchini does work here. He is told that she should be out on the Champs-Élysées selling the paper. Lucien goes back out and walks down the Champs-Élysées.
He sees a girl in a yellow jersey. She tells him that Patricia is on the sidewalk on the other side of the street beyond the Pam-Pam cafe. Lucien crosses the Champs-Élysées. He pushes away a student who was selling pamphlets while asking “You haven’t anything against youth?” Lucien snarls at him saying, exactly, he hates the young and likes the old a lot.
Lucien see Patricia who is walking 10 yards in front of him. He follows her for a little while. Feeling herself followed, she turns around. She wears a yellow jersey with the initials of the New York Herald-Tribune on the chest. She has an American sailor’s beret slanted over her forehead. She is also wearing blue-jeans. Lucien buys a copy of the newspaper from her. She open her eyes wide.: what was Lucien doing in Paris? She thought he was in Nice.
Lucien says that he is in Paris on business. He proposes to Patricia to take off for Italy with him. We learn that that had lived together, several weeks ago on the Coast where Patricia was on vacation. She says neither yes or no to Lucien. He needs to see. She had to enrol at the Sorbonne maybe write articles for the New York Herald-Tribune.
They made a date for the night in a cafe on the Boulevard where she was going to be.
We stay with Lucien who goes back to the travel agency. On the small street in front of the Biarritz, he witness a deadly accident, a scooter driver was knocked over by an auto. The scooter driver’s bloody face makes Lucien remember the motorcycle cop. He buys a copy of “France-Soir” where, on the second page, he finds an account of the crime. the motorcycle cop was in the hospital between life and death. The police have a number of clues, the article said; fingerprints, the jacket which that they had found only several ten-thousand franc bills.
Lucien enters, with a newspaper under his arms, the travel agency from just before. Michel, the man that he knows, has come in. He hands an envelop over to Lucien. Everything seems routine. But Lucien grumbles. He was expecting cash and he has been given a check and what is more an accounts only check. Michel says that he does not know anything about this and that he only was deliver it. He tells Lucien to talk to their friend Berruti who should be in Paris right now since he had seen him the day before yesterday. Berruti will certainly cash the check and, maybe, even without taking a commission for Lucien had saved his life a few years ago. Lucien is annoyed but he will have to do it that way. He, certainly, is not going to dare to present the check at the bank after the accident with the motorcycle cop. He uses Michel’s telephone to call Berruti who is not there. He is in paris, but his maid does not know where.
Lucien leaves the agency. As he leaves, he passes two men. We remain with them. They are going to ask at the counter if anyone has see a man named Lucien Poicard who has his mail sent there having previously worked for that agency. Michel is constrained to tell them that Lucien had been by five minutes ago. The police go outside and look around. No Lucien.
“No problem,” one says, “we’ll have his mugshot and prints this afternoon from Interpol.” The other says that Lucien, probably, had to go into the Metro to have disappeared so abruptly.
They plunge into the George V metro. We follow them. On goes over to the “Vincennes” platform, the other the “Neuilly” platform. We leave them to focus on Lucien who comes out on the Champs-Elysées by the Metro exit in front of the “Normandy”. He enters the cinema next door which advertises a Humphrey Bogart film. Lucien lingers in front of a photo of Bogart.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT. The light slants down onto the Boulevards. Lucien joins Patricia in a milk-bar. they are going to eat a snack. As they are late serving them, they go elsewhere. Lucien wants to stay the night with Patricia. She agrees. Suddenly, she recalls that she has to make a phone call.
She comes back. She hugs Lucien for a long time, very gently. “Then, we’ll sleep together”, Lucien says. But Patricia answers that that will not be possible. she can not stay with him tonight. She absolutely has to see an editor for the N.Y Herald-Tribune who has promised to let her write articles. Tomorrow, there was a famous novelist to interview and the woman who usually does these interviews was not around. Patricia might replace her. For Patricia, it is very important and that she must absolutely see this editor. Lucien asks if she will sleep with him, she tells him that that does not concern him. She asks Lucien to drive her to the rendezvous that she has just made on the phone. If Lucien does not want to. she would go by taxi. But Lucien says that he will accompany her.
They get into a 403. Patricia asks Lucien if he had sold his bulky Ford. Lucien tells him it is at the garage. The garage lent him the 403 while waiting for his to be ready.
Lucien drops off Patricia in front of the Pergola, high up on the Champs-Élysées. We stay with Patricia who meets the journalist on the first floor. They talk, she eating dessert, he, drinking a coffee. We learn that Patricia wants very much to sleep with him, a little for friendship, but most of all because she is interested. She hopes to be able to write articles for the Spectacles section which he managed. He is holding a press conference at his hotel. Does Patricia want to go in the place of Clara, a girl at the paper? Patricia says yes. The journalist asks her if she was staying with him tonight. Patricia says yes, also.
They walk down the Champs-Elysées where the journalist’s car is parked. Night has completely fallen. Patricia realizes that Lucien has been spying on them since the bar where he had a drink. He follows them at a distance.
We stay with Lucien who buys a copy of the late edition of “France-Soir” as he is watching Patricia and the journalist get into an English automobile. The article in “France-Soir” says that the police have picked up Lucien’s tracks but that they don’t know under what name is living at the moment as he has several passports. He does not have a police file in France but he has a police record in New York and in Italy. While he is reading, Lucien goes back to the 403 and he follows the English automobile. He pulls alongside them at a red light. An exchange of looks with Patricia during which we pan across to her. She seems sad and then makes a slightly indifferent gesture.

THURSDAY MORNING. We follow Patricia as she crosses the Pont du Louvre returning home on foot. Her key is not in the rack. She goes up to her room. Her key is in her door. Patricia goes in and finds Lucien listening to the radio stretched out on her bed. He explains that all the hotels are packed because of tourists.
She lays down next to him. They prepare the schedule for the day. He will go with her to the press conference and then come to take her back. In the meantime, he will make his rounds completing his own business which, we know, consists in following the progress of the inquiry and in getting touch as soon as possible with Berruti who will endorse his check. As she knows nothing of his identity, Lucien as it regards Patricia, still is playing the role of the guy with plenty of money and a beautiful car.
They go outside to eat breakfast. While they are eating, he says that he must go to get his car at the garage and will retrun in five minutes. So, he must find a car to steal in five minutes. He locates one, a white Thunderbird convertible. The driver leaves it and goes into a building. Lucien follows him, goes up in an elevator with him, not saying a word. He sees him enter an office.
Soon, Lucien runs down the stairs like a cyclone, disconnects the wires, crosses them and starts to go to get Patricia at the terrace of the café.

WHILE PATRICIA attends the press conference, Lucien tries to sell the Thunderbird in a suburb. He does not succeed with the used car dealer. That one shows him “France-Soir”, which Lucien has forgotten to buy, with his photo captioned “Cop-Killer Still on the Run”. The dealer would like to buy the car but can give him the money only in a few days.
Lucien tries to sell money from a drawer. A fight between Lucien and the dealer. Lucien clearly has the advantage.
When he leaves, the dealer calls the police and tells them that he just heard Lucien ask if Patricia was there, at the N.Y. Herald Tribune.
This explains how the police, seen at the travel agency, are waiting for Patricia who is bringing her article to the editing room.
They show her a photo of Lucien. Patricia tells them, yes, she has gone out with him two or three times but she does not know where he is.
The police give her their telephone number. If she sees him again, will she alert them? OK, Patricia says.
She goes out. She realizes that one of the policemen is following her. She goes into a cinema after seeing that Lucien is following her and the policeman. She leaves by the exit door, then enters a cinema with Lucien a cinema on the opposite sidewalk of the Champs-Elysees, while the cop comes out astonished from the other cinema.

THURSDAY NIGHT. Leaving the cinema where they have seen a western, Patricia and Lucien look for a hotel to spend the night in as Patricia’s appears to be under surveillance. But all the hotels are booked because of the tourists.
Lucien looks more than ever to find Berruti to cash his check. He sees different characters in different neighborhoods, (a girl in Strasbourg St Denis – a bar owner at l’Opera and St Germain) .
They ride in an obviously stolen automobile. Lucien says to Patricia that, now he no longer has anything to lose, and if you are going to have problems, it is better to have them getting about by car than on foot.
But, to avoid risks anyways, he shows her the garage “scheme”, That is to say, he drives his car into a garage watched over by only one old attendant. He leaves it on the third level and takes another one. He has Patricia who he had told to hide while they entered drive it. The attendant seeing a pretty young woman driving a beautiful automobile says nothing. Finally, Lucien gets a hold of Berruti who is hanging around in Montparnasse . Berruti promises to help him, maybe tomorrow he could give him money for the check. While waiting, Lucien, having explained his problems, he gives Lucien the address of a model who is never at home where Patricia and Lucien could spend the night.

THE NEXT MORNING, while Lucien is getting ready to pack the bags with the money that Berruti has just brought him, Patricia announces a change of heart. She has just reported him to the police who will be here in ten minutes.
Lucien is furious, but he has to flee. He starts the car in which Berruti had just come to find him. Out of the driver’s window, he hurls insults at Patricia. The last shot shows Patricia watching Lucien leave and understanding nothing, for her French is still not perfected.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Jean-Pierre Melville -- 10 best films -- Cahiers 1959-1962

Here are the ten best film list compiled by the director Jean-Pierre Melville and published in Cahiers du Cinema.


1.......I Soliti ignoti (Mario Monicelli)
2.......Some Came Running (Vincente Minelli)
3.......Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger)
.........General della Rovere (Roberto Rossellini)
.........Hiroshima, mon Amour (Alain Resnais)
.........Les Liaisons Dangereuses(Roger Vadim)
.........Pickpocket (Robert Bresson)
.........Trial (Mark Robson)
.........The Four Hundred Blows (François Truffaut)
.........The Magician (Ingmar Bergman)
1.......Le Trou (Jacques Becker)
2.......The Apartment (Billy Wilder)
3.......Odds Against Tomorrow (Robert Wise)
4.......Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard)
5.......Classe Tous Risques (Claude Sautet)
6.......Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
7.......Moderato Cantabile (Peter Brook)
8.......Shoot the Piano Player (François Truffaut)
9.......L’ Amerique Insolite (François Reichenbach)
10.....Jazz on a Summer’s Day (Aram Avakian/Bert Stern)
1.......Tutti a Casa(Luigi Comencini)
2.......The Misfits (John Huston)
3.......A Woman is a Woman (Jean-Luc Godard)
4.......The Rat Race (Robert Mulligan)
5.......North to Alaska(Henry Hathaway)
6.......The Young Savages (John Frankenheimer)
7.......Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz)
8.......The Criminal (Joseph Losey)
9.......Exodus (Otto Preminger)
10.....Judgment at Nuremberg (Stanley Kramer)
1.......The Children’s Hour (William Wyler)
2.......West Side Story (Robert Wise/Jerome Robbins)
3.......One, Two, Three (Billy Wilder)
4.......The Hustler (Robert Rossen)
5.......Le Signe du Lion (Eric Rohmer)
6.......Lolita (Stanley Kubrick)
7.......Splendor in the Grass (Elia Kazan)
8.......The Longest Day (K Annakin/A Marton/B Wickl)
9.......Advise and Consent (Otto Preminger)
10.....Sweet Bird of Youth (Richard Brooks)
6666 Explore with the labels 6666

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Milestones to the New Wave -- 1945 to 1959

This material was taken from two tableaus which appeared on pages 101-102 of the Dec 1962 special "New Wave" issue of "Cahiers du Cinema"
A Chronology of the Milestones toward the New Cinema
1945 --- Roger Leenhardt: articles in "Fontaine"
......................Andre Bazin: "Onthology of the Photographic Image"
......................Robert Bresson: "Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne
1947 --- Roger Leenhardt: "Les Dernières Vacances"
1948 --- Alexandre Astruc: "Le Caméra-stylo" (L'Ecran Français, No. 144)
....................Jean-Pierre Melville: "Le Silence de la Mer" ["The Silence of the Sea"]
....................Alain Resnais: "Van Gogh"
1949 --- Creation of the club OBJECTIF 49. Biarritz: Festival of Film Maudit.
....................Jean Rouch: "Circonsion"
....................Georges Franju: "Le Sang du Bêtes" ["Blood of the Beasts"]
....................Pierre Kast and Jean Grémillon: "Les Charmes de l'Existence"
1950 --- Gazette du Cinéma: 5 issues (E. Rohmer, J.-L. Godard, J. Rivette)
....................André Bazin: "Orson Welles"
....................Alain Resnais: "Guernica"
....................Jean-Pierre Melville: "Les Enfants Terrible" ["The Strange Ones"]
1951 --- April: No.1 issue of Cahiers du Cinéma
1952 --- Alexandre Astruc: "Le Rideau Cramoisi" ["The Crimson Curtain"] (Prix Delluc)
...................Alain Resnais and Chris Marker: "Les Statues Meurent Aussi" ["Statues Also Die"]
1954 --- François Truffaut: "A Certain Tendency of French Cinéma" (Cahiers No.31). His debut writing criticism for the weekly ARTS.
....................Summer 1954: Agnès Varda films "La Ponte Courte".
1955 --- Alain Resnais: "Nuit et Brouillard" ["Night and Fog"]
...................Alexandre Astruc: "Les Mauvaises Rencontres"
...................Jean Rouch: "Les Maitres-fous"
1956 --- Roger Vadim: "Et Dieu Créa la Femme" ["And God Created Woman"]
....................Jean-Pierre Melville: "Bob le Flambeur" ["Bob the Gambler"]
....................Claude Bernard-Aubert: "Patrouille sans Espoir" (censured into "Patrouille de Choc" ["Shock Patrol"]
....................Festival de Tours: "Dimanche à Pékin" (Chris Marker), "Le Sabotier du Val de Loire" (Jacques Demy), "Le Coup de Berger" (Jacques Rivette), "Impressions de New York" (François Reichenbach)
1957 --- Cahiers No. 71: "Situation of French Cinéma"
...................François Truffaut: "Les Mistons"
...................Jacques Demy: "Le Bel Indifferent"
...................Jean-Luc Godard: "Tous les Garcons S'Appellant Patrick"
...................Jean-Daniel Pollet: "Pourvu Qu'on Ait l'Ivresse"
...................December: Claude Chabrol films "Le Beau Serge"
...................Prix Delluc: "Ascenseur pour L'Echafaud" ["Elevator to the Gallows"] (Louis Malle)
...................The beginning in L'Express of Françoise Giroud's inquiry "The New Wave"
1958 --- May: Festival of Cannes --- "Goha" (Jacques Baratier)
................Pierre Kast films "Le Bel Age"
....................June: Festival of Brussels: "Les Mistons" prize for direction
....................Agnès Varda "L'Opéra-Mouffe"
....................Georges Franju films "La Tête contre le Murs" ("Head Against the Wall")
....................July: Festival of Karlovy-Vary: doesn't open with Chris Marker's "Lettre de Sibérie"
.............Jacques Rivette films "Paris nous Appartient"
....................August Alain Resnais films "Hiroshima mon Amour"
.............Claude Chabrol films "Les Cousins"
....................September Festival of Venice: "Les Amants" (Louis Malle)
....................November Festival of Tours: "Blue Jeans" (Jacques Rozier)
.............The release of Marcel Carné's film: "Les Tricheurs"
.............François Truffaut films "Les Quatre Cents Coups" ("The Four Hundred Blows")
....................December Prix Delluc: "Moi un Noir" (Jean Rouch)
.............Jean-Daniel Pollet films "La Ligne de Mire"
1959 --- February: release of "Le Beau Serge"
....................March: release of "Les Cousins"
....................May: Festival of Cannes: "Hiroshima Mon Amour" (out of competition)
............."Les Quatre Cents Coups" (best director)
............."Orfeu Negro" ("Black Orpheus") - palme d'or
.....................June-July-August; Commencement of filming -- "Le Signe du Lion" (Eric Rohmer), "Pantalaskas" (Paul Paviot), "L'Eau à la Bouche" (Jacques Doniol-Valcroze), "A Bout de souffle" ["Breathless"] (Jean-Luc Godard), "Les Jeux de l'Amour" (Philippe de Broca), "Le Huitième Jour" (Marcel Hanoun), etc.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Cahiers interviews --- "yellow cover" era

In April 1951, Cahiers du Cinema commenced publication with the yellow cover that would be its signature until the November 1964 issue. In late 1953, Jacques Rivette and François Truffaut visted Jacques Becker carrying with them a new Grundig tape recorder. In that early period the transcribed "rencontre" or "entretien" defined the magazine as much as the yellow cover.

Feb 1954 No.32
Jacques Becker ----- François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette

Apr 1954 No. 34 (part 1)
May 1954 No. 35 (part 2)
Jean Renoir ----- François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette

Jun 1954 No. 36
Luis Bunuel ----- André Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze

Jul 1954 No. 37
Roberto Rosselini ----- François Truffaut, Maurice Scherer (Eric Rohmer)

Jan 1955 No.43
Abel Gance ----- François Truffaut, Jacques Rivette

Feb 1955 No. 44
Alfred Hitchcock ----- François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol

Mar 1955 No. 45
John Ford ----- Jean Mitry

Apr 1955 No.46 (part 1)
May 1955 No. 47 (part 2)
Jules Dassin ----- François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol

Jun 1955 No. 48
Carl Dreyer ----- Lotte Eisner

Dec 1955 No.53
Norman MacLaren ----- Robin Jon Joachim

Feb 1956 No. 56
Howard Hawks ----- Jacques Becker, Jacques Rivette, Francois Truffaut

Sep 1956 No. 62
Alfred Hitchcock ----- Charles Bitsch, François Truffaut

Nov 1956 No. 64
Robert Aldrich ----- François Truffaut

Dec 1956 No. 65
Joshua Logan ----- Charles Bitsch, Jacques Rivette

Mar 1957 No. 69
Anthony Mann ----- Charles Bitsch, Claude Chabrol

Apr 1957 No. 70
Gerd Oswald ----- Claude Chabrol

May 1957 No. 71
Jacques Flaud ----- André Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze

Jun 1957 No. 72
Max Ophuls ----- Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut

Jul 1957 No. 73
Stanley Kubrick ----- Raymond Haine

Aug/Sep 1957 No. 74
Vincente Minelli ----- Charles Bitsch, Jean Domarchi

Oct 1957 No. 75
Robert Bresson ----- transcribed Cannes press conference (see endnote)

Special Jean Renoir No. 78
Jean Renoir ----- Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut

Apr 1958 No. 82
Robert Aldrich ----- François Truffaut

May 1958 No. 83
Jacques Tati ----- André Bazin, François Truffaut

Jun 1958 No. 84
Orson Welles ----- André Bazin, Charles Bitsch

Jul 1958 No. 85
Gene Kelly ----- Charles Bitsch, Jacques Rivette

Aug 1958 No. 86
Buster Keaton ----- John Schmitz

Sep 1958 No. 87
Orson Welles ----- André Bazin, Charles Bitsch, Jean Domarchi

Oct 1958 No. 88
Ingmar Bergman ----- Jean Beranger

Nov 1958 No. 89
Nicholas Ray ----- Charles Bitsch

Feb 1959 No. 92
Richard Brooks ----- Charles Bitsch

Mar 1959 No. 93
Luchino Visconti ----- Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Jean Domarchi

Apr 1959 No. 94
Roberto Rossellini ----- Fereydoun Hoveyda, Jacques Rivette

Sep 1959 No. 99
Fritz Lang ----- Jean Domarchi, Jacques Rivette

Nov 1959 No. 101
Georges Franju ----- François Truffaut

Dec 1959 No. 102
Alfred Hitchcock ----- Jean Domarchi, Jean Douchet

Feb 1960 No. 104
Robert Bresson ----- Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Jean-Luc Godard

Mar 1960 No. 105
Frederic Ermler ----- Georges Sadoul

Apr 1960 No. 106
Luchino Visconti ----- Jean Slavik

Jul 1960 No. 109
Jean Cocteau ----- Jean Domarchi, Jean-Luis Laugier

Sep 1960 no. 111
Joseph Losey ----- Michel Fabre, Pierre Rissient

Oct 1960 No. 112
Michelangelo Antonioni ----- André S Labarthe

Jan 1961 No. 115
George Cukor ----- Jean Domarchi, Eric Rohmer

Feb 1961 No. 116
Alexander Astruc ----- Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer

Jul 1962 No. 121
Otto Preminger ----- Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Eric Rohmer

Aug 1961 No. 122
Edgar Ulmer ----- Luc Moullet, Bertrand Tavernier

Sep 1961 No. 123
Alain Resnais &
Alain Robbe-Grillet ----- André Labarthe, Jacques Rivette

Oct 1961 No. 124
Jean-Pierre Melville ----- Claude Beylie, Bertrand Tavernier

Nov 1961 No. 125
Serge Youtkevich ----- Louis Marcorelles, Eric Rohmer

Jan 1962 No. 127
Nicholas Ray ----- Jean Douchet, Jacques Joly

Feb 1962 No. 128
Vincente Minnelli ----- Jean Domarchi, Jean Douchet

Feb 1962 No. 128
Phillip Yordan ----- Bertrand Tavernier

Mar 1962 No. 129
Roger Planchon ----- Claude Gauteur

Apr 1962 No. 130
Elia Kazan ----- Jean Domarchi, André Labarthe

May 1962 No. 131
Gian Vittorio Baldi ----- André Labarthe, Louis Marcorelles

Jul 1962 No. 133
Roberto Rossellini ----- Jean Domarchi, Jean Douchet, Feroun Hoveyda

Aug 1962 No.134
Billy Wilder ----- Jean Domarchi, Jean Douchet

Aug 1962 No. 134
Richard Quine ----- Bertrand Tavernier, Yves Boisset

Sep 1962 No. 135
Henri Langlois ----- Eric Rohmer, Michel Mardore

Oct 1962 No. 136
King Vidor ----- Luc Moullet, Michel Delahaye

Nov 1962 No. 137
Roger Leenhardt ----- Jean Collet

Dec 1962 No. 138 special "New Wave" issue
Claude Chabrol ----- Jean Collet, Michel Delahaye, Jean-André Fieschi, Andre Labarthe, Bertrand Tavernier

Dec 1962 No. 138 special "New Wave" issue
Jean-Luc Godard ----- Jean Collet, Michel Delahaye, Jean-André Fieschi, Andre Labarthe, Bertrand Tavernier

Dec 1962 No. 138 special "New Wave" issue
François Truffaut ----- Jean Collet, Michel Delahaye, Jean-André Fieschi, Andre Labarthe, Bertrand Tavernier

Feb 1963 No. 140
Robert Bresson ----- Yves Kovacs

Feb 1963 No. 140
Robert Drew &
Richard Leacock ----- Louis Marcorelles, André Labarthe

Feb 1963 No. 140
Arthur Penn ----- André Labarthe

Apr 1963 No. 142
John Houseman ----- Penelope Houston

May 1963 No. 143
Stanley Donen ----- Bertrand Tavernier, Daniel Palas

Jun 1963 No. 144
Jean Rouch ----- Eric Rohmer, Louis Marcorelles

Jul 1963 No. 145
Roberto Rossellini ----- Fereydoun Hoveyda, Eric Rohmer

Sep 1963 No. 147
Alfred Hitchcock ----- François Truffaut

Sep 1963 No. 147
Roland Barthes ----- Michel Delahaye, Jacques Rivette

Sep 1963 No. 147
Leon Shamroy ----- Jean Douchet

Oct 1963 No. 148
Richard Griffith ----- Herman Weinberg

Nov 1963 No. 149
Georges Franju ----- Jean-André Fieschi, André Labarthe

Dec 63/Jan 64 No.150-151 special American Cinema issue
Stanley Kramer ----- Claude Makovski, Michèle Manceaux, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze

Dec 63/Jan 64 No.150-151 special American Cinema issue
Jane Fonda ----- Pierre Kast, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Bertrand Tavernier

Feb 1964 No. 152
Pierre Boulez ----- Jacques Rivette, François Weyergans

Mar 1964 No. 153
Joseph Losey ----- Paul Mayersberg, Mark Shivas

Mar 1964 No. 153
Shirley Clarke ----- Axel Madsen

Apr 1964 No. 154
Raoul Walsh ----- Jean-Louis Noames

May 1964 No. 155
Jacques Demy ----- Michel Caen, Alain Le Bris

May 1964 No. 155
Rod Serling ----- Axel Madsen

Jun 1964 No. 156
Claude Levi-Strauss ----- Michel Delahaye, Jacques Rivette

Jun 1964 No. 156
Fritz Lang ----- Jean-Louis Noames

Jul 1964 No. 157
Budd Boeticcher ----- Bertrand Tavernier

Jul 1964 No. 157
Ermanno Olmi ----- Leonard H Gmür

Aug/Sep 1964 No. 158
Kawaguchi Matsutaro
Mr Takagi
Mizutani Hiroshi
Tanaka Kinuyo
Yoda Yoshikata & Miyagawa Kazuo
Mr Tsugi----- Ariane Mnouchkine
six interviews about Kenji Mizoguchi

Aug/Sep 1964 No.158
Yoda Yoshikata & Itoh Daisuke ----- Georges Sadoul
another interview about Mizoguchi but from 1946

Aug/Sep 1964 No.158
Bo Widerberg ----- Jean Béranger

Oct 1964 No. 159
Louis Lumiére ----- Georges Sadoul
originally from 1946

Oct 1964 No.159
Sam Peckinpah ----- Axel Madsen

At the press conference at Cannes in May 1957 which Cahiers printed in October 1957, Bresson was questioned by among others André Bazin, Georges Sadoul, Louis Marcorelles, François Truffaut, R-M Arlaud, Denis Marion, and J-L Tallenay.

In the late 50s and early 60s, Cahiers would often print a tableau that listed their interviews. However, some errors and discrepencies seem to have picked up along the way.

The tableau published in issue 132 June 1962 seem so have the following errors.

The interviews with Norman MacLaren (Dec 1955), Jacques Flaud (May 1957) and Buster Keaton (Aug 1958) are omitted.

The Vincente Minnelli interview listed as issue 75 appeared in issue 74 and there is no Minnelli interview in issue 104.

Interviews with Alexander Astruc and Kenji Mizoguchi are listed for issue 117. There are none in that issue. (Astruc was interviewed in issue 116)

The interview listed for John Cassavetes in issue 119 appears to be a translation of an aritcle either written by Cassavetes for "Films and Filming" or a transcription of a speech which he gave.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Carné's atmosphere

Probably, the most famous quote in any French film is, "Atmosphere, atmosphere, est-ce que j'ai une gueule d'atmosphere?" ("Atmosphere, atmosphere, do I have a face full of atmosphere?") was written by screenwriter Henri Jeanson for Marcel Carné's Hotel du Nord.

In this short note, Jean Aurenche explains how Arletty’s famous dialogue in Hotel du Nord came to be written. It is from Aurenche’s memoirs “La Suite à l’Ecran” and was reprinted in “Jeanson par Jeanson” (page 551)
"Jeanson wrote all the dialogue but he had serious difficulties with Carné. One day, he exploded at me, “Every time I try to speak to Carné about a scene or a dramatic conflict, he gives me a mechanical response, ‘Yes, but I am afraid that then there will be less atmosphere. Because, understand this, for me, atmosphere is essential,’ or ‘ Okay, but add another train, the haziness will create atmosphere’. I am beginning to become fed up with his atmosphere” ...It was thus that he got the idea for Arletty’s harangue. where, in reality, he was getting back at Carné.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Claude Chabrol --- "Nevertheless, I Shoot"

The following two sections are translated from Claude Chabrol's "Et pourtant je tourne ... " (And Nevertheless, I Shoot ...)

"In France some tried to rise to those heights: L'Herbier, Gance. The great number remained at ground-level with bagatelles that made you laugh or cry. The first French talking film where true talent made itself evident was La Petite Lise by Grémillon in 1930.The critics massacred it and the public ignored it.
Slowly, reputations were made. The respected filmmakers of the pre-War period of the same rank: Duvivier, Carné, Feyder, and Renoir, to which sometimes Grémillon is added. What a motley crew! Duvivier, the average student -- not gifted but conscientious. Carné, a man of talent, who signed, with Prevert's help, good films such as Le Jour se Leve and Les Enfants des Paradis. Feyder, distinctly overrated. He appeared distinguished with an imposing bearing while the others lined gladly up with the proletariat and their cheap red wine. Make no mistake, the only two authentic cineastes were Grémillon and, most of all, Renoir. No one then saw what today is glaring.
" (page 115)

"In 1958 and 1959, I, with my friends at Cahiers, moved into film direction being plugged like a brand of soap. We were "The New Wave". The phrase came from Françoise Giroud, L'Express' editor-in-chief, and one of the most acid pens in opposition to Gaullism, who made a gift of this most "sellable" of slogans to her political adversaries of the time. For, let's not be deceived, if the press spoke as such of us, they wanted to impose the equation: DeGaulle = renewal. In film as elsewhere, the General came, the Republic changed, France was reborn. Look at the flowering of talent. People of intellect blossomed in the shadow of the Cross of Lorraine. " (page 135)

Et pourtant je tourne ... / Claude Chabrol Paris : R. Laffont, c1976.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

René Clair and Cahiers du Cinema

This is from pages 392-393 0f “Le Mystère René Clair” by Pierre Billard published by Plon in 1998. the translation is mine.
In fact, the conflict between René Clair and Les Cahiers du Cinema had already begun in the issue number 37 (July 1954) in the form of an anecdote precisely signed "François Truffaut". He had remarked in his "Short Private Journal of Cinema" that he had seen The Flame of New Orleans again, "You never laugh and rarely smile. The work strikes one in the first place by its dryness, the complete absence of zest... René Clair, for ten years, has cut himself the figure of the official entertainer. He shoots films for old ladies go twice a week to the cinema in their old chauffer-driven Delahaye, one of these two time to see the latest masterpiece of Sir Lawrence Olivier. For Sir René Clair, I think that the young prefer our friend Hulot and that is well." Truffaut proceeds further into caricature, revealing the "youthful prejudice" that critic will be assailed for. He adds that not one Clair film is equal in drolery to Jean Renoir's Tire-au-Flanc. The response could be that the drolery of Tire-au-Flanc owes much more, alas, to Mouezy-Eon than to Renoir and the most important invention of the film draws its source in the "poetic comedy" of the dancer Pomies who was directly inspired by René Clair. But, maybe, it is rather late to revive this polemic. All the more so because this quotation was not cited to open a heavy dossier of attacks committed by that revue of young cinema against René Clair. But, on the contrary, to contest the legend according to which, he had been a privileged target and the victim of the "terrorism" of the politique des auteurs introduced at Cahiers du Cinema with François Truffaut as pointman. Truffaut's great offensive against French cinema had been launched in the article A Certain Tendency of French Cinema in issue number 31 (January 1954). The name René Clair is not cited there and the two main targets are scenarists and "psychological realism", two elements which do not concern Clair. In issue number 53 (December 1955), the review of Les Grandes Manoeuvres by Jean-José Richer is titled, "A window is needed..." But, whether if, open or closed, Richer does not know the answer for the editorial staff never succeeds in reaching an harmony of opinion. Issue 71 (May 1957) is a special issue dedicated to the situation of French cinema. In its lexicon of directors, Clair received a exceptionally positive note. “A complete film auteur who, form the silent era has brought...intelligence, finesse, humor, and an intellectualism a bit dry but smiling and in good taste....In whatever manner that his career continues, he has created a cinematographic universe which is his own, a universe rigorous and not shorn of fantasy, thanks to which he remains one of the greatest film-makers.” What more could be asked? However, six members of the editorial staff debate fervidly the problems of French cinema. A discussion about Clouzot and Bresson, about Vadim and Delannoy, about Ophuls and Becker, about Clément, about Renoir, about Cocteau, and about many others: not once is Clair’s name spoken.It is necessary to wait until issue 76 (November 1957) to find an exhaustive appraisal Of René Clair in Cahiers du Cinema. To wit, a courteous, serious, thought-out, and most harsh review of Porte des Lilas by Eric Rohmer. Cahiers had taken a stand, but outside the polemic, within the framework a a normal exercise of criticism. They fall back into ambiguity upon the release of the next film. Cahiers does not publish a review of that film but returned the next month with an article by Carl Dreyer. In point, appearing in issue number 162 (January 1962), one finds an ensemble of old writings by the Danish filmmaker, among which is an article, dating from 1936, in which he puts René Clair in the dock for betraying his art by directing The Ghost Goes West. This trial in not the most straightforward, but, in any case, it is a long way from a frontal attack. The first great period of Cahiers du Cinema leaves us this balance sheet, certainly negative, but stripped of all relentlessness and from which François Truffaut virtually absents himself.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Robert Benayoun - 10 Best Films - Cahiers - 1963-1968

Robert Benayoun was a Positif staffer in the 1960s who often – at least in the mid 60s – was a panelist on Cahiers du Cinema’s conseil des dix. As such, he bulleted “Contempt”, “A Married Woman”, “Alphaville”, “Week End ”, “Pierrot le Fou”, “Masculin/Feminin”, “Made in U.S.A.”, “La Chinoise”, and the Godard segments of "Paris vu par… ”, and “The Oldest Profession”. Making him thus the true anti-Godard. In 1965 when the televesrion of Cahiers Cinéma de Notre Temps” inquired on Godard, Benayoun was one of those interviewed. Along the way, Benayoun also bulleted Dreyer “Gertrud”, Bergman “Winter Light”, Pasolini "The Gospel According to St. Matthew", Bresson “Au Hasard, Balthazar”, Tati “Playtime”, Autant-Lara “Journal d’une Femme en Blanc ”, Rene Clair “Les Fêtes Galantes”, Sam Fuller “The Naked Kiss”, and Robert Aldrich “The Dirty Dozen”. So now that we know what Robert Benayoun did not care for let’s see what he did like. Here are his ten best film lists as they appeared in Cahiers du Cinema from 1963 to 1968.
1......The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel)
2......Salvatore Giuliano (Francesco Rosi)
3......Cronaca familiare (Valerio Zurlini)
4......Muriel (Alain Resnais)
5......Les Abysses (Nikos Papatakis)
6......The Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis)
7......Le Feu Follet (Louis Malle)
8......Hallelujah the Hills (Ed Emshwiller / Adolfas Mekas)
9......The Leopard (Luchino Visconti)
10....Le Joli Mai (Chris Marker)
(alphabetical in French)
A Hard Day’s Night (Richard Lester)
America, America (Elia Kazan)
The Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni)
Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick)
Freud (John Huston)
L’Insoumis (Alain Cavalier)
Diary of a Chambermaid (Luis Buñuel)
The Patsy (Jerry Lewis)
The Servant (Joseph Losey)
1......The Knack... and How to Get It (Richard Lester)
2......The Family Jewels (Jerry Lewis)
3......Vaghe Stelle dell'Orsa... (Luchino Visconti)
4......Black Peter (Milos Forman)
5......Help! (Richard Lester)
6......Yoyo (Pierre Étaix)
7......The Loneliness of a Long-Distance Runner (Tony Richardson)
8......The Sandpiper (Vincente Minelli)
9.......The Disorderly Orderly (Frank Tashlin)
10.....Major Dundee (Sam Peckinpaugh)
1.......Tini Zabutykh Predkiv (Sergei Parajanov)
2.......Cul-de-Sac (Roman Polanski)
3.......Démanty Noci (Jan Nemec)
4........Kazdy Den Odvahu (Evald Schorm)
5........Falstaff (Orson Welles)
6........La Guerre est Finie (Alain Resnais)
7........Un Homme et une Femme (Claude Lelouch)
8........The Loved One (Tony Richardson)
9........Fists in the Pocket (Marco Bellocchio)
10......The Professionals (Richard Brooks)
1.......Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni)
2.......Belle du Jour (Luis Buñuel)
3.......Accident (Joseph Losey)
4.......Daisies (Vera Chytilova)
5.......Le Voleur (Louis Malle)
6.......The Big Mouth (Jerry Lewis)
7.......Shakespeare-Wallah (James Ivory)
8........Elvira Madigan (Bo Widerberg)
9........An Affair of the Heart (Dusan Makavejev)
10......Two for the Road (Stanley Donen)
1.......Petulia (Richard Lester)
2.......Stolen Kisses (François Truffaut)
3.......2001 A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)
4.......Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski)
5.......Reflections in a Golden Eye (John Huston)
6.......Bedazzled (Stanley Donen)
7.......Je t’Aime, Je t’Aime (Alain Resnais)
8.......Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn)
9.......Terra em Transe (Glauber Rocha)
10.....Duffy (Robert Parrish)

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