English films, French critics Nov '55 - Dec '56
François Truffaut is noted for having written in Arts in May 1957, "The British cinema is made of dullness and reflects a submissive lifestyle, where enthusiasm, warmth, and zest are nipped in the bud. A film is a born loser just because it is English." I have wondered what were the exact films he was referring to, what did the other "young turk" critics think of these films, and what did the other critics at Cahiers and in Paris think of these films. In order to get some idea as to the answers to my questions, I have turned to two features of Cahiers; first, the "films released in Paris between x-date and y-date" feature which appeared at the back of each issue listing the films between those dates by country of origin, and second, the "conseil des dix" where panelists not only from Cahiers but also from other leading French newspapers and magazines posted their ratings of these films. One minor issue crops up and that is the problem of Anglo-American co-productions. I have elected to include all films categorized as "English" and also to include films by major English directors - e.g. David Lean, Carol Reed - listed under the rubric of "American"
The Constant Husband and Trouble in the Glen were released in Paris for that month. Neither film attracted the attention of the conseil des dix.
Simba was the only English film released in Paris that month. It was not considered by the conseil des dix.
David Lean's Summertime was also released in Paris that month but, not surprisingly, Cahiers classified it as an American film. It was considered by the conseil where five panelists gave the film a total of 7 stars and the other five bulleted it. François Truffaut and Jacques Rivette bulleted the film, as did non-Cahiers regulars, Ado Kyrou, Pierre Braunberger and Henri Agel. André
Peter Glenville's The Prisoner was released in Paris that month but was not considered by the conseil.
Touch and Go was described on "films released in Paris" page as an "agreeable little English comedy", nevertheless, the film received only 1 star on the conseil, from Pierre Braunberger. François Truffaut, Ado Kyrou and Jean de Baroncelli all bulleted the film. Jacques Rivette, André
The third English film released in Paris that month was The Deep Blue Sea based on a Terence Ratigan play which Cahiers called "dubious", while qualifying both Vivien Leigh's performance and Anatol Litvak's direction as "excellent". for all of that, The film received only 2 stars on the conseil des dix - 1 each from the only two panelists to consider it - Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and Simon Dubreuilh Jacques Rivette, André
The only English film for that month released in Paris was That Lady. It was not considered by the conseil des dix.
Three English films were released in Paris for this month. Only A Prize of Gold (directed by the American Mark Robson and starring Richard Widmark) was considered by the conseil des dix. It received 5 bullets - André
Both Lilacs in the Spring and The Ladykillers were released in Paris but not considered by the conseil. Commenting on The Lady-killers on the "films released in Paris" page, Cahiers wrote, "Some people are mad for this kind of humor. They will be served. No relationship to Monsieur Verdoux."
Abdulla the Great and The Dambusters were both released in Pairs for that month. The Dambusters did not come in for consideration by the conseil. Abdulla the Great received 3 stars on the conseil, 1 each from André
Not one of the three English films - Confession, You Know What Sailors Are and Doctor at Sea - released in Paris for that issue were considered by the conseil des dix.
Five English films were released in Paris for the month. To Paris with Love, Tiger by the Tail, Above Us the Waves, Simon and Laura and Joe Macbeth.
Joe Macbeth and Simon and Laura were considered by the conseil des dix. There Joe Macbeth received a total of 4 stars - 2 from Pierre Braunberger and 1 each from Henri Agel and Simon Dubreuilh. Four Cahiers regulars - André
Simon and Laura received its only star from Simone Dubreuilh. Pierre Braunberger and Francois Truffaut both bulleted the film and the other seven panelists abstained.
Three English - Break to Freedom, The Star of India and Mad about Men - films were released in Paris for this month. Only Mad about Men was considered by the conseil des dix. It was bulleted by François Truffaut, André
The only English film listed in this issue of Cahiers was Is Your Honeymoon Really Necessary?; however, Cahiers classed Storm over the Nile as an American film. I can find nothing in the credits of that film to justify it being considered American. Neither film was considered by the conseil des dix.
Two English films were released in Paris in that month. Oh Rosalinda and Loser take All. Neither film was considered by the conseil des dix. The comment for Oh Rosalinda on the "films released in Paris page" read, "For several lustrum, Powell and Pressburger each count on the other to insure the mise-en-scene of the films which each believe the other to have written the screenplay of. If they persist in making films, it is necessary to eat: a matter of life and death."
Three English films were listed on the "films released in Paris" section, I Am a Camera, Escape Route and Value for the Money. Additionally, two films group with the American films - Trapeze (directed by Carol Reed) and The Cockleshell Heroes (directed by José Ferrer but with an all-English -except for José - cast) could also be considered English. Only Trapeze was considered by the conseil. It was bulleted by 6 panelists - François Truffaut, Eric Rohmer, Pierre Kast, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and J-P Vivet from Cahiers and Henri Agel. André
2 English films -Josephine and Men and Recoil - were listed on the films released in Paris page as English. Also, Terence Young's Safari was classed with the American films. None were considered by the conseil.