My Gleanings

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Truffaut census of French directors - 1955

This is from "Les Critiques de Cinema" by Pierre Ajame (pages 70-71 my translation) published in 1967. However, it is mostly a quote from an article by François Truffaut published in Arts in 1955.
[Note: Ajame quotes a figure of 99 directors, in Philippe Mary's La nouvelle vague et le cinema d'auteur and Serge Toubiana/Antoine de Baecque Francois Truffaut quote a figure of 89 directors]

On March 30, 1955, Truffaut offered an opinion piece entitled "The Crisis of Ambition of French Cinema". In it, he wrote significantly:
I have surveyed 99 French - or working in France - directors and divided them into 4 groups.

1. the Ambitious -- Yves Allégret, Alexander Astruc, Claude Autant-Lara, Jacques Becker, Robert Bresson, Marcel Carné, André Cayatte, René Clair, René Clement, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jean Cocteau, Abel Gance, Jean Grémillon, Roger Leenhardt, Max Ophuls, Jean Renoir, Jacques Tati. Right there is the true "French quality" for you. Here are 17 filmmakers who can tell themselves, "I am in the process of making the best French film of the year." They have that right. Let it be specified that ambition faultlessly brings quality but not success (examples: L'Air de Paris, L'Amour d'une femme, Mam'zelle Nitouche, La Beauté du diable). The films of Yves Allégret, Claude Autant-Lara, Marcel Carné, Andre Cayatte, René Clément are in the first place the films of Charles Spaak, Jacques Sigurd, Aurenche and Bost. Now the cinema termed "scenarist" is called upon to fade away.

2. the semi-Ambitious -- Marc Allégret, Hervé Bromberger, Norbert Carbonnaux, Yves Ciampi, Louis Daquin, Jean Delannoy, Leo Joannon, Alex Joffé, Jean-Pierre Melville, Marcel Pagliero, Marcel Pagnol, Carlo-Rim, Georges Rouquier, Claude Vermorel and René Wheeler.

3. the honestly Commercial -- Raymond Bernard, Bernard Borderie, Henri Calef, Maurice Cloche, Guy Lefranc, Léonide Moguy, Richard Pottier, Jean Sacha, Robert Vernay, Henri Verneuil, Jacqueline Audry, Pierre Billon, Le Chanois, Jean Dréville, Robert Darène, Georges Lampin, Jean Devaivre, Christian-Jaque, Jack Pinoteau, René Chanas, Kirsanoff, Swoboda[sic], Henri Decoin, Sacha Guitry, Julien Duvivier, Georges Lacombe, André Hunnebelle.
Let's regret finding here the names Raymond Bernard, Christian-Jaque, Sacha Guitry and Julien Duvivier who prior to the war knew how to demonstrate themselves to be bankable, but better yet to be artists.

4. the deliberately Commercial
(I cite as examples) -- Raoul André, André Bertomieu, Jean Boyer, Marcel L'Herbier, Gilles Grangier, Maurice Labro ...