THE FILMS OF FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT, PART I
July 3 - September 3
Fifty years ago, film critic-turned-filmmaker Francois Truffaut's magnificent first feature, THE 400 BLOWS, won the Palme d'Or at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, initiating a new aesthetic in filmmaking, and a changing of the guard within the bureaucratic, cliquish French filmmaking industry, starting what would be called the New Wave. Twenty-five years later, this now hugely influential and prolific filmmaker tragically died before his time, succumbing to a brain tumor at the age of 52. The confluence of these two anniversaries makes 2009 the perfect time to take a look back at the films of one of cinema's most beloved artists. Look for Part II of this comprehensive retrospective next year.
AFI Member passes will be accepted at all screenings in The Films of François Truffaut, Part I series.
THE 400 BLOWS
[Les quatre cents coups]
The winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival represented not only an auspicious beginning for François Truffaut's career, but also the beginning of the Nouvelle Vague era of filmmaking that surged forth in its wake. The Paris-set picaresque follows the misadventures of an adolescent boy,Antoine Doinel, good-natured but prone to mischief, who wants to do well in school but plagiarizes Balzac, and who loves his parents but suspects he's not loved back. The film contains autobiographic elements from Truffaut's own rough and tumble childhood, but his direction always displays a light touch; in its wit and romance, its moments of elation and sadness, and the remarkable, intuitive performance by Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoine, the film represents one of the greatest movies about childhood ever made.
DIR/SCR/PROD François Truffaut; SCR Marcel Moussy. France, 1959, b&w, 99 min. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Friday, July 3, 7:00*; Sunday, July 5, 5:20; Monday, July 6, 7:00; Tuesday, July 7, 7:00
* Screening introduced by Jean-Philippe Tessé, Editor, Cahiers du cinema.
Critic Jean-Philippe Tessé (b. 1977) writes for Les Cahiers du Cinéma. He is also head of the film section of Chronic'art and co-programmer of the Festival des Trois Continents in Nantes, author of Le Burlesque (ed. Cahiers du cinéma), and co-author of Hou Hsiao-hsien (ed. Cahiers du cinéma), Erice/Kiarostami, correspondencias (CCCB, Barcelona), Erice/Kiarostami (CNAC Pompidou, Paris), Im Anfang war der Blick (Sonderzhal, Vienna). He played the role of the Comte de Mareuil in Catherine Breillat's film Une Vieille Maitresse (THE LAST MISTRESS).
SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER
[Tirez sur le pianiste]
New 35mm Print!
Loosely adapting a novel by American hardboiled novelist David Goodis, Truffaut adds a parodic-comedic sensibility to the story of a heartbroken man, a failed concert pianist slumming as a barroom musician, who finds a new love and renewed purpose when he takes on gangsters who have threatened his brothers. A classic film noir plot set up is here transformed into something near farcical--the gangsters are played like cartoon characters, and whimsically digressive conversations pervade the dialogue--but Truffaut manages the balancing act splendidly, combining crime story, romance and comedy into a satisfying genre-bender. French singer Charles Aznavour as the lead represents an inspired bit of casting, and Raoul Coutard's gorgeous Cinemascope lensing make the film a must-see on the big screen.
DIR/SCR François Truffaut; SCR Marcel Moussy, based on Down There by David Goodis; PROD Pierre Braunberger. France, 1960, b&w, 92 minutes. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Friday, July 10, 7:30; Saturday, July 11, 3:00; Sunday, July 12, 5:30; Tuesday, July 14, 5:00; Thursday, July 16, 7:00
JULES AND JIM
[Jules et Jim]
This worldwide smash success catapulted 29-year-old Truffaut from New Wave phenomenon to the front line of international directors. In the classic ménage a trois, best friends Henri Serre (the French "Jeem") and Oskar Werner (the Austrian "Jules") alternate in the affections of Jeanne Moreau before, during and after World War I. Moreau's own analysis of her greatest role: "She's not immoral; she's absolute."
DIR/SCR/PROD François Truffaut; SCR Jean Gruault, based on the novel by Henri-Pierre Roché. France, 1962, b&w, 105 min. In French, German and English with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Friday, July 17, 7:00; Saturday, July 18, 2:45; Sunday, July 19, 12:30; Thursday, July 23, 7:00
THE SOFT SKIN
[La peau douce]
Writer Jean Desailly, middle-aged and married, begins an affair with young Portuguese stewardess Françoise Dorléac while on a business trip, then can't forget her when back home in Paris.The increasingly fraught relationships among the three members of this international love triangle culminate in a stunning crime of passion. Conceived at the same time that Truffaut's own marriage was breaking up, this film represents an underrated masterpiece for the filmmaker, notably darker and more serious-minded than his other films, and coldly rigorous in its plotting and direction.
DIR/SCR/PROD François Truffaut; SCR Jean-Louis Richard; PROD António da Cunha Telles. France, 1964, b&w, 113 min. In French, Portuguese and English with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Friday, July 24, 7:00; Saturday, July 25, 12:30- Just Added!; Monday, July 27, 7:00; Tuesday, July 28, 7:00; Thursday, July 30, 7:00
This adaptation of Ray Bradbury's sci-fi novel was a passion project Truffaut spent years developing, famously turning down an offer to direct BONNIE AND CLYDE because he wanted this film to be his English language debut. Set in a future society where the printed word and reading are forbidden, Oskar Werner is employed as a "fireman"--the kind charged with bookburning. But when he encounters an underground organization known as the Bookmen--a group dedicated to preserving the great works, each member memorizing a book--his loyalties shift. Julie Christie stars in a dual role as both Werner's complacent wife and a member of the underground.
DIR/SCR François Truffaut; SCR Jean-Louis Richard, based on the novel by Ray Bradbury; PROD Lewis M. Allen. UK, 1966, color, 112 min. In English. NOT RATED
Sunday, August 2, 3:20; Monday, August 3, 7:00; Tuesday, August 4, 7:00; Thursday, August 6, 7:00
[La sirène du Mississippi]
In the far-flung French colony of New Caledonia, lonely plantation owner Jean-Paul Belmondo hits the jackpot when his mail-order bride steps off the plane in the person of Catherine Deneuve. But the mysterious Deneuve seems to be running from something. When murder and intrigue enter into the equation, Belmondo finds himself in a compromising position and soon on the run, alternately chasing and being chased by the dangerous Deneuve across the continents. Belmondo and Deneuve make a gorgeous pair, tres chic and at the height of their '60s-era cool, in this amour fou-fueled romp.
DIR/SCR/PROD François Truffaut; SCR based on Waltz into Darkness by Cornell Woolrich; PROD Marcel Berbert. France/Italy, 1969, color, 123 min. In French with English subtitles. RATED PG
Friday, August 7, 7:00; Saturday, August 8, 12:20; Monday, August 10, 7:00
Nearly 10 years after THE 400 BLOWS,Truffaut chose to revisit his Antoine Doinel character in a second feature film. Again played by Jean-Pierre Léaud, Antoine is now a shiftless young man, recently discharged from the army and footloose in Paris. Bumbling through a succession of odd jobs--ranging from shoe salesman to private detective--Léaud displays a unique talent for comic diffidence, culminating in his courting of sexy society dame Delphine Seyrig.
DIR/SCR/PROD François Truffaut; SCR Claude de Givray, Bernard Revon; PROD Marcel Berbert. France, 1968, color, 90 min. In French with English subtitles.
Saturday, August 15, 12:30; Sunday, August 16, 12:30; Tuesday, August 18, 7:00; Thursday, August 20, 7:00
THE BRIDE WORE BLACK
[La mariée etait en noir]
In this exciting mix of taut suspense leavened with black comedy, Jeanne Moreau tracks down and extracts vengeance on the five salauds who killed her husband on their wedding day. (Fans of Quentin Tarantino's KILL BILL will recognize the plot.) Director Francois Truffaut's ultimate homage to the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.
DIR/SCR François Truffaut; SCR Jean-Louis Richard, based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich; PROD Marcel Berbert, Oscar Lewenstein. France/Italy, 1968, color, 107 min. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Saturday, August 22, 3:00; Tuesday, August 25, 9:00; Wednesday, August 26, 7:00
BED AND BOARD
The popular success of STOLEN KISSES ensured a third installment in the saga of Antoine Doinel, whose fecklessness in the face of love and life gets a more serious test here, as his marriage is threatened by estrangement and an affair with an exotic paramour. Remarkably, Truffaut maintains a charming tone and light comedic sensibility throughout the proceedings, as Antoine eventually stumbles on the path to reconciliation, and ultimately, the responsibilities and rewards of fatherhood.
DIR/SCR/PROD François Truffaut; SCR Claude de Givray and Bernard Revon; PROD Marcel Berbert. France/Italy, 1970, color, 100 min. In French with English subtitles. RATED PG
Friday, August 28, 7:00; Tuesday, September 1, 7:00; Wednesday, September 2, 5:00; Thursday, September 3, 9:00
THE WILD CHILD
New 35mm Print!
Truffaut cast himself as an 18th century doctor challenged with a most unusual and challenging case: educating an adolescent boy, partly deaf and dumb, found naked in the woods, his origins and early childhood a mystery. Raised by wolves, and lacking the ability to communicate effectively, the boy is taken under Truffaut's tutelage. Based on a true case, this film was intensely personal for Truffaut, who felt a resonance in this story with both his own tumultuous upbringing and salvation in his mentoring by film critic Andre Bazin, as well as Truffaut's own mentor relationship with actor Jean-Pierre Léaud.
DIR/SCR François Truffaut; SCR Jean Gruault, based on Mémoires et rapport sur Victor de l'Aveyron by Jean Itard; PROD Marcel Berbert. France, 1970, color, 83 min. In French with English subtitles. RATED G
Saturday, August 29, 12:30; Sunday, August 30, 12:30; Monday, August 31, 5:00