My Gleanings

Sunday, March 15, 2009

1954 Best Films and Reviews Cahiers du Cinema

Compiling the post on Joseph Mankiewicz and Cahiers du Cinema, I became intrigued that nearly every reviewer of a Mankiewicz film in the decade 1955-1965 went on to place the film on their 10 best film list for the year. Knowing the old dictum that at Cahiers, it was the person who liked the film the most who wrote the review, I have decided to examine the relationship between reviewer and 10 best lists as published by Cahiers. As chance would have it the first year for which Cahiers published lists was 1954 and that year, 1954, was the first year that Cahiers which had been founded in 1951 was the magazine which people usually intend when they refer to Cahiers du Cinema.
In 1954, films were reviewed in a section headed "Les Films". Most reviews were at least 2 pages in length. Occasionally, shorter reviews (about 1 column in length) were published in a subsection headed "Notes on other films".
This first set of "10 best films" of 16 lists was published in the January 1955 issue of Cahiers du Cinema.
Participating were:
Older generation of Cahiers regulars: André Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast
Younger generation of Cahiers regulars: Claude Chabrol, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette, Maurice Scherer (Eric Rohmer), François Truffaut
Others: critic Henri Agel, novelist/critic Jacques Audiberti, producer Pierre Braunberger, critic Ado Kyrou, critic Claude Mauriac, director Alain Resnais, screenwriter Annette Wademant. Truffaut's close friend, Robert Lachenay, whose name Truffaut was using as a pen-name, is also credited with a list. Since there is a 3 film intersect between the Truffaut list and the Lacheny list, my speculation is that the list is that of the real Robert Lachenay and not of the pseudo "Robert Lachenay". Of these, only Rivette and Kast would contribute lists every year (1954-1968) in the first cycle of Cahiers "10 best films lists".
Cahiers du Cinema published 45 full reviews of 46 films in the Les Films section; one film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was reviewed by two critics and inone review, François Truffaut considered three films. On 12 occasions, the reviewer put that film on his ten best list, on 23 occasions the reviewer left the film off his list and no list was provided by the reviewer 12 times. All told 29 films of the films reviewed show up on at least one list. One must bear in mind that films reviewed in January and in February may have been considered as 1953 films.
As a side note, it is interesting to note the youthfulness of this group: Jacques Audiberti (55 years old) was the only individual who was beyond the age of 50. Pierre Braunberger (49 years old), Henri Agel (43 years old) and Claude Mauriac (40 years old) were the only others beyond 40. Almost half (7) were less than 30 years old.
The convention here will be for the film title to be in green, the reviewer to be in red, whether or not he listed the film to be in yellow, followed by an enumeration in magenta of those who had listed the film.
Reviews credited to Robert Lachenay were written by François Truffaut. I am unable to confirm the identity of the reviewer FL. There are a handful of articles published by Cahiers in the first 3 years credited to a Frédéric Laclos. I was unable to run down the identity of this "Frédéric Laclos" as a Google search for that term retrieves a few hits for a young baker with that name and few others for the articles published in that name in Cahiers. I suspect that it was a pen-name, but, that is only speculation.

January 1954
Les films
The Little Fugitive André Bazin NO
The Big Heat François Truffaut NO
Lili Philippe Demonsablon no list
Moulin Rouge Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Les Orgueilleux Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO

February 1954
Le Blé en herbe André Bazin NO Annette Wademant, Pierre Braunberger
Angel Face Jacques Rivette NO
La Red Robert Lachenay/ François Truffaut NO/NO
Julietta Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Notes on other films
The War of the Worlds Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
The Heart of the Matter FL No list
The Glass Managerie FL No list
Peter Pan Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Virgile FL No list
The Magic Box FL No list
Strange Desire of Mr. Bard Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Sadko Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Blackbeard the Pirate Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Ado Kyrou, Robert Lachenay
Sensualidad Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
La Rage au corps Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Girls in the Night Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Le Peintre reveron Lotte Eisner No list
Monsieur Robida Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Les Forceurs de Banquise Philippe Demonsablon No list

March 1954
Ruby Gentry Philippe Demonsablon No List Robert Lachenay, François Truffaut, Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer)
The Life of O'Haru Philippe Demonsablon No List Henri Agel, Jean-José Richer

April 1954
Touchez pas au grisbi François Truffaut YES André Bazin, Pierre Braunberger, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast, Claude Mauriac, Alain Resnais, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette, Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer), Annette Wademant
From Here to Eternity Jean-José Richer NO Jacques Audiberti, André Bazin, Pierre Braunberger, Claude Mauriac
Roman Holiday Jacques Doniol-Valcroze YES Pierre Braunberger, Annette Wademant
Children of Hiroshima Jacques Doniol-Valcroze YES
Notes on other films
L'Ennemi public No. 1 FL No list
Le Defroque Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Si Versailles m'etait conté Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO Jacques Audiberti

May 1954
L'Amour d'une femme Jean-José Richer YES
I Vitelloni André Martin No list Henri Agel, Pierre Braunberger, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast, Ado Kyrou, Alain Resnais, Jean-José Richer, Annette Wademant
It Should Happen to You Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut YES/YES Claude Chabrol, Alain Resnais, Jacques Rivette, Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer), Annette Wademant
Il Capotto Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Henri Agel, Jacques Audiberti, Claude Mauriac, Alain Resnais
Notes on other films
Beneath the 12 Mile Reef Jean-José Richer NO Jacques Rivette
How to Marry a Millionaire Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Annette Wademant, Pierre Braunberger
Thunder in the East Jean-José Richer NO
White Witch Doctor Jean-José Richer NO
A Personal Affair Claude Chabrol NO
Never Let Me Go Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Lure of the Wilderness Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Return to Paradise Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
La Guerra de Dios Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Mam'zelle Nitouche Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
La Revoltes de Lomanach Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Les Intragantes Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Le Guerisseur Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
La neige etait sale Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
The Masterson Affair Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Trouble in the Store Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO

June 1954
Monsieur Ripois Pierre Kast YES Henri Agel, Jacques Audiberti, André Bazin, Pierre Braunberger, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Claude Mauriac, Alain Resnais, Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer)
Monika Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer)
The Wild One Pierre Kast YES Henri Agel, André Bazin, Pierre Braunberger, Ado Kyrou, Claude Mauriac, Alain Resnais
Destinees Jean Mitry No list
The Blue Gardenia Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer) YES Claude Chabrol, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut
Notes on other films
Flesh and the Woman Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Sang et lumière Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Traviata '53 Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut YES/NO
Pain, amour, et fantasie Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Jacques Audiberti, Pierre Braunberger, Annette Wademant
Secrets d'alcove Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Treasure of the Golden Condor Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Dangerous Crossing Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
The San Francisco Story Jean-José Richer NO
So Big Jean-José Richer YES François Truffaut
The Glass Web Jean-José Richer NO
Remains to Be Seen Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut YES/NO
Le Secret d'Helene Marimon FL No List
Act of Love Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Les femmes s'en balancent Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
The Stranger Left No Card Jean-José Richer NO
Quai des blondes Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO

July 1954
Gate of Hell Jean-José Richer NO Henri Agel, André Bazin, Ado Kyrou, Claude Mauriac, Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer)
La Provinciale Jean Domarchi No List Claude Mauriac
El Michel Dorsday No List Henri Agel, André Bazin, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast, Ado Kyrou, Jean-José Richer, Annette Wademant, Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut
L'Affaire Maurizius Jean-José Richer NO
La Lupa Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO Pierre Braunberger, Ado Kyrou
Notes on other films
Par ordre du tsar Jean-José Richer NO
Glinka Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Flight to Tangier Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO

August-September 1954
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer) YES Claude Chabrol, Robert Lachenay, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Jean Domarchi No List (see above)
Robinson Crusoe Jacques Doniol-Valcroze YES André Bazin, Claude Chabrol, Pierre Kast, Claude Mauriac, Jean-José Richer, Jacques Rivette
River of No Return/Prince Valiant/King of the Kyber Rifles François Truffaut YES/NO/NO Claude Chabrol(River of No Return), Robert Lachenay(River of No Return), Jacques Rivette(River of No Return), Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer) (River of No Return)
Boots Malone Philippe Demonsablon No List
Notes on other films
Orage Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
The Bandwagon Philippe Demonsablon No List Alain Resnais, Ado Kyrou
Les Infidèles Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
The Glass Wall Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Les Amants de la Villa Borghèse Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
The Secret Conclave Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO
Crime Wave Robert Lachenay/François Truffaut NO/NO

October 1954
No reviews

November 1954
L'Air de Paris Jean Desternes No List
The Caine Mutiny Jean-José Richer NO
Three Coins in the Fountain Jean-José Richer NO
Executive Suite Philippe Demonsablon No list Jean-José Richer

December 1954
Le Rouge et le noir André Bazin NO Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Ado Kyrou
Mogambo Etienne Loinod(Jacques Doniol-Valcroze) NO Maurice Scherer(Eric Rohmer)
Châteux en Espagne Jacques Doniol-Valcroze YES André Bazin, Claude Mauriac, Alain Resnais
Escalier du service Jacques Doniol-Valcroze NO
Les Lettres du mon Moulin André Bazin NO
Father Brown Etienne Loinod(Jacques Doniol-Valcroze) NO Henri Agel
The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T Remo Forlani No list Pierre Kast, Annette Wademant

Some films cited in 1954 lists were not reviewed by Cahiers until 1955, they are:
Renato Castellani's Roméo et Juliette reviewed in January 1955 by Jacques Siclier who supplied no list for 1954. Cited by André Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Pierre Kast, Claude Mauriac, and François Truffaut
Miko Naruse's Okasan reviewed in January 1955 by Jacques Doniol-Valcroze who did not list the film. Cited by Henri Agel, Jacques Audiberti, Pierre Braunberger, Pierre Kast, and Alain Resnais.
Robert Wise's The Desert Rats reviewed in January 1955 by Philippe Demonsablon who did not contribute a list for 1954. Listed by Claude Chabrol.
Vsevolod Pudovkin's The Return of Vasili Bortnikov (French title La Moisson) was not reviewed, as such, in the pages of Cahiers du Cinema. Jacques Doniol-Valcroze had written about the film in a piece he contributed to the June 1953 issue describing a trip he had taken to the Soviet Union. He listed the film. Michel Mayoux wrote about the film in a mini-Pudovkin tribute in the August/September 1953 issue. He provided no list for 1954. Besides Doniol-Valcroze, Henri Agel listed the film.
Although John Huston's Beat the Devil was released in France in August 1954, it was not reviewed in Cahiers until February 1960 when Luc Moullet considered it a review with 4 other films. Cahiers co-editor Jacques Doniol-Valcroze posted the film to his 1954 lists as did Pierre Kast, Ado Kyrou and Alain Resnais.
The High and the Mighty was never reviewed in Cahiers; it appears on the 10 Best films (1954) lists of Claude Chabrol and Annette Wademant.
The Roberto Rossellini-Ingrid Bergman sketch from the film Siamo Donne was cited by both Jacques Rivette and François Truffaut.
The unreviewed MGM musical I Love Melvin was listed by Jacques Rivette.
Byron Haskin's The War of the Worlds was reviewed in February 1954 but was not selected on any list; his The Naked Jungle went unreviewed, however, it does appear on the lists of both Claude Chabrol and Robert Lachenay.
Robert Lachenay would cite three films that were neither reviewed by Cahiers nor listed by any other panelist: No niego mi pasado, Thunder Bay and Les Corsaires du Bois du Boulogne.
Ado Kyrou listed the unreviewed La Nave delle donne maledette.
Finally, the documentary Naufrage volontaire was not reviewed by Cahiers; a not surprising circumstance given that the film was apparently never finished. However, this did not prevent François Truffaut from listing the film 11th on his Ten Best list.

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