My Gleanings

Monday, April 30, 2007

Godard on Belmondo -- one year before Breathless

This quote is taken from:

Godard on Godard: critical writings; edited by Jean Narboni; [edited and translated from the French by] Tom Milne; with an introduction by Richard Roud (page 99)

In the November 26 1958 issue of Arts, - almost a year before Breathless went before the cameras - Jean-Luc Godard write this about John-Paul Belmondo in a review of the film Drole de dimanche.

". . . he is the Michel Simon and Jules Berry of tomorrow; even so, this brilliant actor would have to be used differently and elsewhere."

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Reception of "The Four Hundred Blows" at Cahiers

Jacques Rivette May 1959 Cahiers du Cinema pre-coverage of its Cannes '59 screening
"With The Four Hundred Blows we return to our childhood as into a house abandoned since the war. Our childhood, even if it is before everything else the case of François Truffaut -- the consequences of a stupid lie, the aborted flight, the humiliation, the revelation of injustice, no, it is not of a childhood, "protected". Speaking of himself, he seems to also be speaking of us: this is a sign of the truth and the recompense of true classicism which knows how to limit itself to its subject but watches it suddenly cover the whole range of possibilities."

Jacques Doniol-Valcroze June 1959 Cahiers du Cinema covering the Cannes Film Festival , ending a short piece on the screening wrote.
"Bazin dead, The Four Hundred Blows which he is the posthumous producer could only be dedicated to him; André alive - and our throats tighten at the thought of what his joy would have been - it is to Resnais that this heart-rending and cheerful about all the tenderness of the world would have been dedicated."

Fereydoun Hoveyda
July 1959 Cahiers du Cinema
"Thus Truffaut attains a sense of the real uncommon in cinema, which comes to underline hhis constant concern for reference to the true details. There is not a shot where Truffaut does not use an element of decor to make burst beyond the screen's canvas the profound truth of his subject. there is an innate sense of things in relation with human beings."

Following is the conseil des dix in the July 1959 issue of Cahiers du Cinema
4 stars -- Pierre Braunberger (film producer), Jean Douchet (Cahiers du Cinema), Jean-Luc Godard (Cahiers du Cinema), Jacques Rivette (Cahiers du Cinema)

3 stars -- Henri Agel (Etudes cinématographiques), Jean de Baroncelli (Le Monde), Jacques Doniol-Valcroze (Cahiers du Cinema), Claude Mauriac (Le Figaro), Eric Rohmer (Cahiers du Cinema), Georges Sadoul (Les Lettres françaises)

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Jacques Becker Interview- Cahiers du Cinema Feb 54

In February 1954, in the middle of the period over the winter of '53-'54 when the elements that made Cahiers du Cinema what it was coalesced, that magazine printed its first taped interview, an interview of Jacques Becker which was conducted by Jacques Rivette and François Truffaut. This is a short excerpt from that interview.

Interviewer -- There seems to be in your work Casque d'or the conscious will to recreate, to reinvent the gestures of the epoque: the gestures of Gaston Modot, the stance of the dancers. . .

Jacques Becker -- Yes, there is a pre-WW I aspect to the behaviour of people. Even the actors who are no more than 30 or 40 years old, thanks to the costumes which we have tried to make simple (they are not operetta-like), thanks to the moustaches, since the actors have real moustaches, recall a little of the gestures, attitudes, physical behaviour which they observed in their grandparents when they were children. As well, for Simone Signoret's method. We got it together real smoothly.

Interviewer -- But this "childhood memory" aspect, isn't it also found in the dialogue? There are many schoolchild-like inflexions.

Jacques Becker -- That this dialogue is very linear,if not to say rudimentary and extremely economic must be taken inot account: Reggiani, for example, utters only about sixty or so words -- but it is not at all improvised. It was spoken as written. . .

Interviewer -- But it had been written. . . Jacques Becker -- Contingent on the play of the scene, of course. Since I wrote while seeing the scenes, I had the charcters say the minimum things necessary for the understanding of the situation. It is in as much as it was written by a director that there is that tone. . . do you understand? A character enters, there are two guys who are waiting for him. He gestures to go back outside and says, "I'm coming back". There is no need to say anything else. "I'm coming back". that is the end of it. Scenarist-dialoguists never get the idea to be happy with that. But, if they wrote the dialogue while cutting directly as I did for Casque d'or, they could not draw out the dialogue at leisure. When you direct, you write dialogue sparingly because you look give the most of life and truth possible to the direction and acting; thus you are constantly obliged to review the text right on the set. In the studio, when you suddenly feel that a phrase sounds awkward out of the mout of the actor, it must be sorted out to redo it for him so that it is spoken naturally. (page 13)

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Jacques Becker elaborates the Auteur Theory in 1946

This is an interesting quote from Jacques Becker from an article which he wrote for L'Ecran Française in 1946, an excerpt of which was republished by Avant-Scene Cinema in it issue of March 15 1962 on page 46. Becker is predating even Alexander Astruc in elaborating an early theory of the politique des auteurs.

"The creator of a talking film tells a story with images, words and sounds.
Jean Cocteau, who knows these things well, once wrote this, "The day when the director understands that the role of the author is not liimited to writing the text - the day when the writer himself directs - the dead language of cinema will become a living language."
I think like he thinks, on the screen, you can only tell a story that is your own.
You can borrow from others, but it then it is necessary to care for it such that in thinking about it, in working on it, one finally forgets that it belongs to someone else.
I believe this because the past proves it: Chaplin, Stroheim, Griffith, King Vidor, Lubitsch in America.
Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Nicholas Ekk in Russia.
Murnau, Fritz Lang, Pabst in Germany.
Abel Gance, Jean Renoir, René Clair among us.
All the great names that I have just cited, who have made this art a marvelous art, have always personally and completely prepared their stories before the shoot."


Friday, April 20, 2007

Best American Directors from the Belgian Cinematheque 1958

In 1957, in preparation for the "Confrontation of the Best Films in the World" event which was to be held at the Brussels Worls's Fair in 1958, the Royale Cinémathèque de Belgique distributed ballots to 150 critics across the world asking them to list the 30 most important films from the beginning of film to the end of 1955. 117 critics from 26 nations submitted list and the cited 609 different films. In the December 1959 issue of Cahiers du Cinema, Claude Gauteur contributed an article which broke down some of the statistics from the results. The following tableau is a list of the best American directors from that "confrontation".


1.....Charles Chaplin -- 250 The Gold Rush (85), Modern Times (34), City Lights (32), The Kid (17), Limelight (15), Monsieur Verdoux (14), The Great Dictator (13), A Woman of Paris (12), The Pilgrim (8), Shoulder Arms (6), The Circus (5), The Immigrant (5), The Cure (1), Sunnyside (1), Easy Street (1)
2.....D W Griffith -- 122 Intolerance (61), Birth of a Nation (42), Broken Blossoms (15)
3.....John Ford -- 107 The Grapes of Wrath (40), Stagecoach (31), The Informer (23)
4.....Eric von Stroheim -- 93 Greed (71), Foolish Wives (11), The Wedding March (11)
5.....Robert Flaherty -- 92 Man of Aran (32), Nanook of the North (26), Louisiana story (15), Moana (8), The Land (1)
6.....Orson Welles -- 56 Citizen Kane (54), The Magnificent Ambersons (6)
7.....King Vidor -- 44 Hallelujah (21), The Crowd (16)
8.....F W Murnau -- 30 Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (17), Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (13)
......William Wyler -- 30 The Best Years of Our Lives (19)
10...Lewis Milestone -- 22 All Quiet on the Western Front (19)
11...Frank Capra -- 18
12...Ernst Lubitsch -- 16
......John Huston -- 16 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (8)
14...Walt Disney -- 15
......Fred Zinneman -- 15 High Noon (8)
16...Elia Kazan -- 16 East of Eden (9)
17...Billy Wilder -- 13
18...Buster Keaton -- 11
......Fritz Lang -- 11 Fury (5), You Only Live Once (6)
20...William Wellman -- 10 The Ox-Bow Incident (7)
21...Howard Hawks -- 8 Scarface (7), The Dawn Patrol (1)
22...Leo McCarey -- 7
23...George Stevens -- 6 Shane (4)
24...Vincente Minnelli -- 5
25...George Cukor -- 4
26...Joseph von Sternberg -- 3
......Alfred Hitchcock -- 3
28...Delbert Mann -- 2
29...Richard Brooks, Jules Dassin, Delmer Daves, Cecil B DeMille, Alan Dwan, Tay Garnett, Edmond Goulding, Henry Hathaway, Joseph Losey,Daniel Mann, Preston Sturges -- 1


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Alain Renoir on his father,(Jean) Renoir

Alain Renoir was the son of the film director Jean Renoir. In the late 1930s while still a teenager Alain Renoir worked as an assistant cameraman for his father on The Rules of the Game and The Human Beast. He left for the United States during World War II and he became a professor of English at the University of California -- Berkeley. These are transcription from an interview he gave in 2003 for the Criterion DVD of The Rules of the Game.

from 11:00 to 13:35 in the interview.

"When the first World War broke out, my father was a career non-commissioned officer in the military, the French Calvary - the Dragoons. and some of the effect that he cavalry had upon him can be seen in his films. For instance, he repeated to me over and over again that in the cavalry their was no such thing as a white horse or a black horse -- it did not exist -- in the cavalry a white horse was a light gray horse and a black horse was a dark gray horse....Well, if you think for a second you can see that that applies to everything he did. You have nothing that is just straightforward and cut-and dried. People are always a little bit of this and a little bit of that."

"My father had a knack for getting people to do exactly what he wanted. Pretending for them and for himself that it was not the case. For instance, he would say to the actor, "This is wonderful, this is absolutely wonderful. But you know it may be fun to try something else. Never saying it was lousy. And eventually I knew damned well where it was going. It would be the same thing with his cameraman. He would say, "Oh this shot is wonderful. You know it might be interesting to try it in a slightly [inaudible]way". But he never told them that is what I want done."

"I will tell you an anecdote that for obvious reasons I will not give you the name. On one particular occasion, I had heard a certain actor spouting the movie and it was obviously totally wrong. Well that night I went back home and my father and I met at the door of the apartment and I said, "Oh dad, this guy I'll call him X said that-and-that. He completely doesn't understand the movie. I think you should tell him" And my father turned to me and said, "Don't you say a word to him. When an actor understands his part in a play or a movie, he can no longer play it."


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Some unrealized film projects of Max Ophuls

From the April 15 1963 issue of Avant-Scene Cinema (page 46)
A list of unrealized projects of the film director Max Ophuls.

"The scripts of some of these projects exist in advanced state and count among Ophuls' best."

Before World War II

Le Scandale -- from a play by Henry Bataille
Derrière la façade -- screenplay by Yves Mirande, (finally directed by Mirande and Georges Lacombe)
Maria Tarnowski -- screenplay by Jacques Companeez to star Kate de Nagy
untitled propaganda film for the French Foreign Legion in which Ophuls would have film a sequence at the Franco-Spanish border.
La Grande traversée -- dialogue by Marcel Archard to star Victor Francen

World War II -- Hollywood

Sentimental Journey -- to star Martha Eggerth and Jan Kiepura (directed eventually by Walter Lang starring John Payne and Maureen O'Hara)

Post World War II
The Knights of the Round Table -- in England to star Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Giigi -- from Colette
La Duchess de langeais -- to star Greta Garbo and James Mason
Autumne -- original screenplay by Max Ophuls and Peter Ustinov to be filmed during a Mozart festival at Salzbourg
L'Amour des quatre colonels -- from a Peter Ustinov play
The Blessing (Ce Cher ange) -- from a Nancy Mitford novel
Mam'zelle Nitouche -- finally filmed by Yves Allégret starring Fernandel
Carmen -- starring Sophia Loren
Modigliani -- from Henri Georges-Michel's novel "Les Montparnos" adapted by Henri Jeanson, Jacques Natanson, Albert Valentin and Max Ophuls. To star Yves Montand and then Mel Ferrer and finally Gérard Philippe. (direction entrusted at Ophuls' suggestion to Jacques Becker and released as "Montparnasse 19")

Vaguer projects
Adolphe -- from Benjamin Constant
L'Ami Fritz -- from Eckmann-Chatrian to star Jean Gabin
Bertha Garlan -- from Arthur Schnitzler to star Daniele Darrieux
Egmont -- from Goethe and with music by Beethoven
Histoire d'amour -- from Louise de Vilmorin
Le Lys dans la vallée -- from Balzac
Les Mille et un nuits -- project in advanced state around June 1954
Six Characters in Search of an Author -- from Luigi Pirandello
Une vie de Catherine de Russie -- to star Ingrid Bergman
Une vie D'Isadora Duncan -- advanced project, adaptation written and lost
Yvette -- from Guy de Maupassant

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Max Ophuls on Arthur Schnitzler

In the April 15 1963 issue of Avant-Scene Cinema which was dedicated to Max Ophuls' film La Ronde, Claude Beylie wrote the introduction. This is taken from that introduction.

"La Ronde (1950) is, like Liebelei drawn from Schnitzler. Strange predilection of Ophuls for this dramatic author of scandal who cast on the mystery of physical love the most cynical of expressions. But the filmmaker idealized his model. 'Schnitzler,' he confided to Pierre Lephoron, 'is Musset on the banks of the Danube. In his work "everything rolls on" like a river, birth, life and the end of human relations, as well as of love, and all that to the rhythm of a waltz'."

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Reception of Breathless at Cahiers

As strange as it may seem, when Jean-Luc Godard's A Bout de souffle (Breathless) was released in early 1960, Cahiers du Cinema did not review the film. Well, the truth there is that they did not review the film in their Les Films section. Two articles in the Sommaire section though did deal with the film. In the March 1960 issue, Jean Domarchi contributed an article entitled Peines d'amour perdues which was primarily a bout Pierre Kast's Le Bel âge and Jacques Doniol-Valcroze's L'Eau à la bouche but which does deal briefly with A Bout de souffle. Kast's and Doniol-Valcroze's films were also reviewed in that issue. The next month, in the Sommaire of the April 1960 issue, Luc Moullet wrote a 12 page article concerning Godard and the film. In May of 1960, le conseil des dix considered the film. here are the results:

4 stars -- Jacques Rivette (Cahiers du Cinema), Luc Moullet (Cahiers du Cinema), Claude Mauriac (Le Figaro), Pierre Marcabru (Arts & Combat)
3 stars -- Jean-Pierre Melville, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze (Cahiers du Cinema), Jean de Baroncelli (Le Monde)
2 stars -- Louis Marcorelles (Cahiers du Cinema and France-Observateur), Jean Douchet (Cahiers du Cinema)
1 star --- Ferydoun Hoveyda (Cahiers du Cinema)

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Jacques Becker and the New Wave

In its April 1960 issue, Cahiers du Cinema published tributes to Jacques Becker who had died on the 21 Feb of that year. what follows is a footnote ot Claude de Givray's tribute.

"A propos of [Touchez pas au] Grisbi, François Truffaut wrote: "the crystal clear appreciation that I bring to Grisbi springs from my sureness such that it is, that this film could not have been made four years ago. Casque d"or had to have been made."
Plainly Casque d"or benefitted from the knowledge gained from Edouard et Caroline and this last film was effected by the experience of Rendez-vous en juillet. So quite a tendency is outlined which ends in the slow destruction of an idea of dramatic construction. Little by little, the viewer is educated, understands that a story to tell is not always the essential proposal of a director. Becker has, by this very fact, supported the blooming of the "new wave"."

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Best French Director list from Belgian Cinematheque 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. 117 critics from 26 nations submitted lists. They cited 609 different films. Claude Gauteur in the December 1958 of Cahiers du Cinema produced a study of those results. This list considers French directors only.

French Film as seen by the historians

1....René Clair 135 (Sous les toits de Paris 33, Le Million 32, Un chapeau de paille d'Italie 26, A nous la liberté)
2....Jean Renoir 105 (Le Grande illusion 72, Le Règle du jour 17)
3....Marcel Carné 74 (Les Enfants de paradis 30, Le jour se lève 22, Quai des brumes 17)
4....Jean Vigo 43 (L'Atalante 22, Zéro de conduite 20)
5....Jacques Feyder 37 (Le Kermesse héroïque 27)
6....Abel Gance. 27 (Le Roue 13, Napoléon 13)
7....Georges Méliès 26 (Le Voyage dand le lune 22)
8....René Clément 20 (Jeux interdits 14, La Bataille du rail 6)
9....Jean Cocteau 19 (Orphée 14)
10..Claude Autant-Lara 18 (Le Diable au corps 15)
......Robert Bresson 18 (Le Journal d'un a curé de campagne 10, Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne 5, Les Anges du péché 3)
12..Julien Duvivier 15 (Carnet du bal 7)
13..Georges Clouzot 10 (La Salaire de la peur 6, Le Corbeau 4)
14..Jean Epstein 9 (La Chute de la maison Usher 5, Coeur fidèle 3, Le Tempestaire 1)
......Albert Lamorisse 9 (Le Ballon rouge 8)
......Max Ophuls 9 (Le Ronde 4, Lola Montès 4, Medame de 1)
17..Jacques Becker 8 (Casque d'or 6)
18..Sacha Guitry 7 (Le Roman d'un tricheur 6)
......Georges Rouquier 7 (Farrebique 7)
......Jacques Tati 7 (Les Vacances de M. Hulot 6)
21..André Cayatte, Louis Lumière, Alain Resnais 5
24..Jean Delannoy, Louis Feuillade, Jean-Paul Chanois,Max Linder, Marcel Pagnol 3
29..André Calmettes, Georges Franju, Èmile Cohl, Jacques Costeau, Léonce Perret 2
34..Marc Allégret, Alexander Astruc, Jean Benoit-Lévy, P Cheval, Bernard-Deschamps, Germaine Dulac, Jean Grémillon, Jean Gréville, Dmitri Kirsanoff, Jean Lehérissey, André Malraux, Jeff Musso, Jean Painlevé, P Pinoteau, Agnès Varda, André Zwoboda 1


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sacha Guitry and Marcel Pagnol honors Cahiers du Cinema 12/65

Cahiers du Cinema in its December 1965 issue paid tribute to Sacha Guitry and Marcel Pagnol. What follows is a translation of the introduction to that celebration.

Sacha Guitry and Marcel Pagnol, filmmakers in spite of themselves?

To pay homage to Sacha Guitry and Marcel Pagnol, as two genuine filmmakers, and nothing less, does not go without paradox and challenge. The paradox applies obviously since both men are men of the theater before, pre-eminently, before being filmmakers. And more so, since they consider cinema as an intermediary, an intermediary at the service of the global art of drama. Thus, they are filmmakers a little bit in spite of themselves. What is admirable is that while taking cinema as nothing more than a medium, at a time when everyone had eyes only for the image and looked for the specificity of cinema only in the plastic, they served it as much through their films which begin precisely where theater ends. The exemplary is that passing beyond rules, conventions and techniques, they have invented a new language (and there lies the challenge) where the New Wave, as much as they do in the Americans, Renoir and Cocteau, should find its reason to be. (page 22-23 my translation)

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Positif at Cahiers du Cinema Michel Ciment 10 best Films 1965-1967

These are the ten best film lists of Positif's Michel Ciment for the years 1965-1967 as they were published in Cahiers du Cinema. Each one was published as alphabetical (in French).

Black Peter (Milos Forman)
Winter Light (Ingmar Bergman)
The Magic Desna (Yuliya Solntseva)
A High Wind in Jamaica (Alexander Mackendrick)
King and Country (Joseph Losey)
Kiss Me Stupid (Billy Wilder)
Lord Jim (Richard Brooks)
Il Momento della verità (Francesco Rosi)
Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa (Luchino Visconti)
La Vieille dame indigne (René Allio)

Au Hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson)
Cul-de-sac (Roman Polanski)
Falstaff (Orson Welles)
La Guerre est finie (Alain Resnais)
L'Homme au crane rasé (André Delvaux)
Fist in His Pocket (Marco Bellocchio)
The Professionals (Richard Brooks)
Les Sans-Espoirs (Miklos Jancso)
7 Women (John Ford)
Walkover (Jerzy Skolimowski)

Accident (Joseph Losey)
Belle du Jour (Luis Bunuel)
The Big Mouth (Jerry Lewis)
The Young Girls of Rochefort (Jacques Demy)
Black God, White Devil (Glauber Rocha)
Intimate Lighting (Ivan Passer)
El Dorado (Howard Hawks)
Pour les fusils perdus (Pierre Delanjeac)
Persona (Ingmar Bergman)
The First Teacher (Andrei Konchalovsky)

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Richard Avedon portrait of François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Leaud

Looking through some old issues of the New Yorker from the 1990s, I came across a Richard Avedon portrait of François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Leaud made in 1971. They look incredibly alike. In fact, to me it looks like it might be a portrait from Avedon's In the American West of prosperous father-son ranchers from Wyoming or Colorado. Both seem to resemble Sam Waterston at different stages of his career. The portrait is in The New Yorker from 12 December 1994.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Positif at Cahiers: Roger Tailleur's 10 best films 1965-1967

In the 1960s, the magazine Positif did not publish yearly ten best film list. But some Positif regulars would have their list for the year published in Cahiers du Cinema. These are Roger Tailleur's lists for the years 1965-1967.

1.....Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa (Luchino Visconti)
2.....La Vieille dame indigne (René Allio)
3.....Winter Light (Ingmar Bergman)
4.....L'Arme à gauche (Claude Sautet)
5.....Il Momento della verità (Francesco Rosi)
6.....The Sons of Katie Elder (Henry Hathaway)
7.....The Big Night (Joseph Losey)
8.....Le Bonheur (Agnes Varda)
9.....Black Peter (Milos Forman)
10...The Disorderly Orderly (Frank Tashlin)

1.....The Professionals (Richard Brooks)
2.....La Guerre est finie (Alain Resnais)
3.....Walkover (Jerzy Skolimowski) 1967
4.....Falstaff (Orson Welles)
5.....Harper (Jack Smight)
6.....7 Women (John Ford)
7.....Cul-de-sac (Roman Polanski)
8.....La Vie de Chateau (Jean-Paul Rappenau)
9.....The Bedford Incident (James B Harris)
10....Bus Riley's Back in Town (Harvey Hart)

1.....The First Teacher (Andrei Konchalovsky)
2.....El Dorado (Howard Hawks)
3.....Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (Jacques Demy)
4.....The Fortune Cookie (Billy Wilder)
5.....Intimate Lighting (Ivan Passer)
6.....Belle du jour (Luis Bunuel)
7.....Le Départ (Jerzy Skolimowski)
8.....Pour les fusils perdus (Pierre Delanjeac)
9.....The Big Mouth (Jerry Lewis)
10....Mamaïa (José Varela)

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