My Gleanings

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another take on mise en scene

Watching the fifth season of the TV series The Wire on DVD with the French subtitles turned on, this translation interested me: At 9:45 in episode 3,

Jimmy McNulty says, "Well, maybe they need the make believe". This was rendered into French as, "Il leur faut une mise en scène."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

In the August-September 1954 issue of Cahiers du Cinema commenced a new monthly feature at the back of each issue called "Films released in Paris from 'x' date to 'y' date" where all the films released in Paris in the last month were listed and the films not reviewed by Cahiers were usually briefly commented on.
In the January 1965 issue, Cahiers recorded the release of Michel Deville's film Lucky Jo in the "Films released" feature with this comment,

A rather beautiful story, blandly told, of an unlucky gangster, who, full of good will, sets in motion the collapse of everything which he touches. In sum, a devilleienne autobiography. (
Cahiers du Cinema, January 1965, page 152, my translation)

In the March 1965 issue of Cahiers, the following two letters to the editor objecting to this short note were published on the "Cahiers des lecteurs" page.

The legitimate fears that many can have will vanish quickly, if you continue in this manner. "Yeye" will not destroy "Jazz Magazine", why will it kill
Cahiers?... What have you done to Deville? If you don't like him, don't put off others over it. This is a sensitive and elegant director and his Lucky Jo is a marvel of poetry and humanity. André Ondarsumu (Cahiers du Cinema, March 1965, page 5, my translation)
... I regret how there abides in some collaborators a sectarian state stripped of all objectivity. I am thinking precisely of the latest Chabrol, Le Tigre aime le chair fraiche, which was made the object of a laudatory column while the latest Deville, Lucky Jo, saw itself allotted a few ironic lines. Without being a masterpiece, this little film is clearly superior to that so-called "Chabrolesque de-Bondization" and, on that subject, you will have the pleasure to establish, if possible, a parallel with Goldfinger, notably for the sequence of the automobile compacter. J-L Couturier (Cahiers du Cinema, March 1965, page 5, my translation)

Cahiers responded

We have nothing against Deville. As proof, the laudatory reviews of Ce soir ou jamais, Adorable menteuse and À cause, à cause d'une femme... But, there was no one to be found at Cahiers to champion L'Appartement des filles or Lucky Jo. Thus, there is no necessity to conclude a general hostility towards Deville, even if appearances, this time are against us. Those who liked the film greatly (Truffaut, for example, or de Givray) were not in Paris for the publication of that issue. And the "list of films released from ... to ..." had to be compiled. That said, Mr Ondarsumu and Mr Couturier are correct in criticizing the accused notice for excessive harshness: meanwhile, several other letters were received from readers in the same sense. In the future, we will try to be less undeserved, or better to take responsibility for our arbitrariness. (cf. as concerns thhis regard, in the back [of that issue], the revision of "List of films..."


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

In 1963, Cahiers du Cinema co-founder and former co-editor Jacques Doniol-Valcroze played the starring role in novelist and filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet's L'Immortelle. What follows is the beginning of the review of that film in the May 1963 issue of Cahiers in which J D-V who now only on rare occasion wrote for Cahiers explains how it happens that he is reviewing a film which he starred in.

That I am writing here about L'Immortelle is not beyond a certain indecorum. I realize that perfectly. So, I owe the reader an explanation. It is simple. No member of the staff at Cahiers, presently, agreed to take pen in hand other than to summarize the general opinion at Cahiers as Rohmer had gently forewarned me. "They seem to have mixed in some reels of Benazeraf's during the editing." The old rule at Cahiers that it is the one who likes the film who speaks of it, in preference to the one who did not like it should be sufficient reason since I am the only one for.
Cahiers du Cinema, May 1963, page 54 (my translation)

In May 1963's conseil des dix, among Cahiers regulars, the film was bulleted by Jacques Rivette and Jean Douchet while Doniol-Valcroze gave the film 3 stars. The non-Cahiers critics who participated on that panel ran the gamut in their assessments of the film: Claude Mauriac gave the film 4 stars, Jean-Louis Bory gave it 3 stars, Georges Sadoul 2 stars, Henri Agel and Bernard Dort both gave it 1 star while Michel Aubriant and Pierre Marcabru each bulleted the film.

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