My Gleanings

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Which screenplay was it anyways?

This is an addendum to my long post of last year The Bernanos Letter which tried to attempted to understand aspects of the François Truffaut's writing of A Certain tendency of French Cinema by considering a little-known letter written in 1947 by Georges Bernanos.

Speaking specifically about François Truffaut's borrowing of the early and rejected Aurenche-Bost screenplay for Diary of a Country Priest, in the interview which he gave to Serge Toubiana and Michel Pascal for the documentary Portraits volées, Bertrand Tavernier says "All these documents, Bertrand Tavernier all these gifts and praises, resulted in that article[A Certain Tendency of French Cinema]". As I have demonstrated above, François Truffaut could have written that article without recourse to studying that screenplay. That material which he needed had been revealed by Georges Bernanos in a letter written in 1947.
In the latter which Pierre Bost wrote to Truffaut after that article was published, Bost wrote,

"Surtout pas des textes en somme confidentials puisqu'il s'agit d'un scénario qui n'a pas été tournée." (François Truffaut by Antoine de Baecque, Serge Toubiana Paris : Gallimard, 1996 page 585 )

Catherine Temerson in her translation of the Toubiana-de Baecque biography translates that as,
"Especially not confidential writings, since we are talking about a script that has not yet been filmed." (page 399 in the English translation of Francois Truffaut by Serge Toubiana and Antoine de Baecque published by Knopf in 1999.)
This is a perfectly valid translation if one follows the drift of the story as narrated by Toubiana and de Baecque, i.e. that Bost is making reference to the screenplay drawn from Bernanos's novel. Otherwise, the "yet" would be gratuitious and it would be translated merely as "a script that has not been filmed" The sticking point here is that Bost describes his writings as "confidential" and as i have shown those writings were already very public and controversial. Could Bost be referring to some other of his writings which Truffaut borrowed? As de Baecque revealed, in his article published in 1994 on the writing of A Certain Tendency, in November 1952 when Truffaut borrowed the the Country Priest screenplay, he also borrowed the Aurenche-Bost screen adaptation of Colette's Le Blé en herbe, another as yet unfilmed script. One though,which would go before the cameras some 8 months later at the end of July 1953. Could this be the "script" which Bost is making reference to?

In an end-note to his A Certain Tendency - one which I have to believe is noticed by few who read that article, Truffaut writes,

"5) Le Blé en herbe. Colette's novel was adapted from 1945. Claude Autant-Lara accused Roger Leenhardt of having plagiarized Le Blé en herbe with Les Dernières vacances. Maurices Garcon's arbitrage ruled against Claude Autant-Lara. With Aurenche and Bost, the plot conceived by Colette was enhance with a new character, that of Dick, a lesbian who lived with the "White Lady". This character was eliminated a few weeks before the shooting of the film by Ghislaine Auboin [Autant-Lara's wife and frequent collaborater] who "revised" the adaptation with Claude Autant-Lara."

This Aurenche-Bost script for Le Blé en herbe which Truffaut borrowed from Pierre Bost certainly passes the test of "confidential". And if what Truffaut writes in this end-note is correct, then Bost could deem that his script "has not been filmed"; what was filmed was a Ghislaine Autant-Lara revision of that script.

The release date for Le Blé en herbe is co-incident with the publication date of the January 1954 issue of Cahiers. And it would not be surprising if Bost was upset about this end-note given that the publication of the January 1954 issue of Cahiers coincided with the release of Le Blé en herbe.

Labels: , , , ,