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photography and film – facts, ideas, values

FILM HISTORY AUDIO Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut (Aug/1962)

FILM PHOTO hitchcock-truffaut

Listen to 12 Hours of François Truffaut Interviewing Alfred Hitchcock

French-English – simultaneous translation – 25 parts – each about 25 mins.

This link is the only one I could get to work:

Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut (Aug/1962)


The Hitchcock Wiki homepage

The Hitchcock Report
– blog about Alfred Hitchcock: his movies, television series, books and more.

September 13, 2014 Posted by | auterism, auteur theory, auteurist, Hitchcock, Truffaut | , | Leave a comment

FILM WITHIN FILM TRUFFAUT La Nuit Americaine [1973]

Jean-Pierre Léaud and Francois Truffaut in La Nuit Americaine

Looked at Truffault again in the week before his anniversary date which was marked by a Google Doodle. With a bit of luck this should mean a lot of people looking to see who he was. And watching some of his films. Could check DVD sales.

Watched 400 Cent Coups from my collection and then decided to buy a DVD of La Nuit Américaine (Day for Night, 1973). In reading about the film over the years and forever coming across the first shot of the square where Alphonse, played by the adult Jean-Pierre Léaud, pops out of the metro, and then the exposure of the film-within-a-film with light, camera crane, it always felt this would be my kind of film.

Having watched it twice – the no-English subtitle DVD, allowing me to focus more on the visuals; then in YouTube with English subtitles – I felt disappointed he chose to counterpoise his clever, funny film about film-making with a run-of-the mill film-within-a-film. Yes, it’s part of the fun to have a bog-standard melodrama – which Truffault himself said still demonstrates how film-making works – but there are reasons why a film-within-film as good as the film itself might have worked too.

A sensible remark elsewhere: look at them as two films spliced together as well as a one film framing another. That is the physical reality, despite the viewer seeing the making of Pamela ‘through the frame’ of Day for Night.

It’s easy to see why he chose a rubbish film to film, right down to questions of mise-en-scene. What’s so clever about Day for Night is how he teases out these issues at different levels: from that of Day for Night itself and how it shows how a film can portray filmmaking; from the point of view of the director of Pamela (played by Truffault himself), who narrates his opinions about films and film-making at certain points (yet the director of Day for Night, Truffaut doesn’t!); and the interplay between the two films as exemplified by where Truffaut is allowed to be (can be) both directors at the same time, directing his own film with a crew we don’t see, and Pamela as Ferrand – at times Ferrand can be Truffaut directing Day for Night when he is in front of the camera directing as Ferrand. This is first shown at the end of the Square shot when after seeing the actors and crew break up from the mise en scene, moving in to listen to the assistant director talking through a megaphone, we see Truffault in the background showing the principle actors how to do their last action: a slap from character Alphonse to Alexandre. One’s first reaction is that this is Pamela‘s director, Ferrand, but it can just as easily be Truffaut the director of Day for Night showing how he wants the slap acted by the real-life actors.

If Truffaut had gone for something which was almost equivalent in quality to his own film, it’d take away from Truffaut’s depiction (Eh? How? Since they’re both his films!): primarily, at times we might have been more engaged in the story he was framing to the detriment of his own. A good story is a good story even if it’s a brief scene or two. Every time we were that absorbed in a narrative, we would be less aware there was another real director and his crew behind that. (Well, perhaps no! They alternate, so we are always made aware of which is which.) In practice the framed film takes only a 1/4 or so of the film’s total time.

There is a point in Day for Night where this actually happens: the past-it woman actress can’t remember her lines because she’s drunk too much, and keeps on drinking more to try to remedy the situation, blaming other people for her ineptitude, while the director of Pamela – played by Truffault to make sure we never forget it’s a Truffaut film by appearing regularly as the acted director reassuring her with lot’s of, “It’s not a problem”, eventually taping her lines to various parts of the set and patiently asks her to re-do it, several times. Truffault the director of Day for Night, as well as of Pamela is the clever bit that others who tried films-within-films didn’t try.

At this point – where we wish she’d just get it right because it’s like a soap being rehearsed; we are also quite enjoying how it allows Truffaut to show how film is created, and the the familiar jokes about film-making – we are not so aware it’s being directed and filmed with Truffaut behind his own camera, because he’s seen so much in front of it. That’s quite clever too.

I kept on thinking (for some reason) why not use, instead of a simple film like Pamela, some kind of modern take on Renoir’s Regle de Jeu with those clever mirror shots and complex story. But then the joins would have been easier to see: it would really seem as if it was two films spliced together (which is was anyway), even with Truffaut bridging the two as himself and the framed film’s directer.

One is left with so much of Day for Night being a film one would never watch! In order to watch his entertaining take on films on films, we have to endure shots re-shot in a film, Pamela, we wouldn’t watch. Of course one of the film-maker’s jokes – made within Pamela at various points, such as the death of the lead actor and the finances, the goings on among the crew – is all this effort is going into the making of film that will probably never get distribution. But his own film, Day for Night, will! Saying that doesn’t say the producer, director and crew as depicted by the actors in Pamela aren’t thoroughly professional. We see the professionals at work in Pamela, but not those creating Day for Night.

But let’s get serious.

Illusion 24 frames per second: François Truffaut’s La Nuit Américaine, Daniel Fairfax, Senses of Cinema.

The principal question haunting La Nuit Américaine is, on the other hand, whether films are superior to life.

Ferrand, director of Pamela :

Films are more harmonious than life, Alphonse, there are no bottlenecks in films, no dead-time, films keeps rolling forward, like trains, you understand, like trains in the night. People like you and me, you know, are only happy in our work, our work in the cinema.

Character Alphonse at another point in in Pamela:

“I think Ferrand has it wrong. Life is more important than the cinema.”

Natalie Baye as script girl Joëlle in Day For Night

La nuit Américaine was the point beyond which Truffaut and Godard’s friendship failed. e.g. Truffaut, Godard, Day For Night, and a link. The link is to an short edited version translated into English of an interview Godard gave to Christian Jurgen in German NZZ Online [7 November 2010]. (If read in Chrome, a rough automatic translation of the whole interview is possible).

The Truffaut-Godard spat is a great story and – is there a film already? – is briefly mentioned in that interview, which also covers Godard himself, cahiers, his explaining his turn away from auteur theory (he says it applied to the New Wave, which passed) his new film Socialsme, and so on.

In the interview Godard is asked about Truffaut:

You fell out later with François Truffaut. What was the reason?

I noticed over time that he made exactly the films we attacked: Written movies! Truffaut’s works were not influenced by the camera, but from the pen. The camera imitating what his pen had written.

Godard’s notion of this in some way breaking their rules – as perceived by Godard – of how they made films, links up with my deliberately laboured attempts, below, to look at the joins in Day and Night. I’ve always been a lot more interested in film as a technical medium, its capabilities and limits, than in stories film tells per se, though there are many fine ones, well told.

If you can avoid a cliche in praise-filled phrases you’d be clever. Roger Ebert does well with’…not only the best movie ever made about the movies, but also a great entertainment.’

The cleverest bit in a way is not the film-within-film antiques but that Truffaut is the director of Day for Night and his film-within-a-film (Godard in Le Mempris has Fritz Lang playing himself spouting Godard!), Meet Pamela. It’s the sort of thing that auterists would see in some sort of diagram as the script was developed. The first time we see Truffaut in his trade-mare leather blouson, he being filmed from a crane (yet to be shown itself to establish visually the film-within-film, though we already know this from the behaviour of the actors and the evidence of the camera track running the length of the square) in a medium-long shot giving post-shot instructions to Alphonse and Alexandre. Since he is the director of Day for Night as well as of Pamela, which director is he being at that point? Well, of course, he can relax into this and be both at the same time.

At this point, the viewer can see the possibilities and look forward to enjoying the fun. However – sacred bleu, mais non! Incroyable!- I didn’t find it as exhilarating as I thought I might, wondering all the time whether anyone else had tried, or has tried since, a similar take on film-making.

Having watched Day for Night and then read up again on what others think of it, I’ve come across all sorts of ideas: that the bus which careers round the square in the main shot is going too slow. Crikey, it looked to me it was a wonder a the speed it was going in such a confined space, circling the square, that no one was hit! That’s where the cleverness of the film is slowly established. Other shots (the film of the film shots) show how the extras are carefully walking, well away from the bus, though in Pamela’s shooting shot, it all looks a bit hairy because the tracking shot is sow low.

April 26, 2012 Posted by | film reflexivity, film technique, film within film, film [its techniques], francois truffaut, Godard, Godard/Truffaut, La Nuit Américaine, meta-film, referentiality, reflexivity, Truffaut | , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM TRUFFAUT Love on the Run: The Films of François Truffaut

Love on the Run: The Films of François Truffaut

from: Not Coming to a Theater near You

♦ Short intro ♦ film chronology (just name and date) ♦ Each film in listing links to short review

February 17, 2012 Posted by | francois truffaut, Truffaut | , | Leave a comment

FILM TRUFFAUT Le Dernier Métro [1980] – Daxiat is Laubreaux

The Last metro: François Truffaut, director


Mirella Jona Affron

Google Book

The drama of fallen France: reading la comédie sans tickets


Kenneth Krauss

Google Book


Occupied Minds – French culture under Nazi rule remained surprisingly vibrant

Robert O Paxton, Bookforum, June/July/Aug 2009

February 17, 2012 Posted by | Truffaut | , , | Leave a comment

FILM TRUFFAUT The Origins and Uses of Love in the Cinema of François Truffaut

The Origins and Uses of Love in the Cinema of François Truffaut


Mark Robert Harris, September 1992

An MA Thesis.

Well, yes. All sorts of little bits and pieces in there.

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Truffaut | Leave a comment

FILM When Truffaut met Godard

When Truffaut met Godard


Tobias Grey

Financial Times, 21 January, 2011

February 14, 2012 Posted by | Godard, Godard/Truffaut, Truffaut | , , , | Leave a comment

FILM DIRECTOR TRUFFAUT ~ ~ 6 February 1932 – 21 October 1984 ~ ~ ” Le Cinema Règne” ~

Or perhaps as Truffault might have preferred:

Perhaps as we write, speak, play with images and ideas about Truffaut, M. Godard will be playing with the Truffault Google Doodle as well:

François Truffaut’s Google doodle is a modern memento mori

Google’s Doodle for 6 February 2013 – Truffaut would have been 80. Fun to imagine what it would be like to compare the filmography of Truffaut and Godard, both alive today. Would they have made friends again?

February 14, 2012 Posted by | film within film, Godard, Godard/Truffaut, Truffaut | , | Leave a comment

FILM GODARD/TRUFFAUT ~ Reviews of Richard Brody’s Everything is cinema

Reviews of Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard by Richard Brody [2008]

Kinbrody and the Ceejays: Richard Brody’s Everything Is Cinema

By Bill Krohn in cinemascope

A Review of Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard by Richard Brody
, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008

by Adrian Martin

A Girl and a Gun

By Stephanie Zacharek, NYT, 13 July 2008

Everything Is Cinema and Criticism Is Nothing

Ed Howard, blog : Only the Cinema, 2 August 2008

Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard

Andrew Schenker, blog : The Cine File, 16 June 2009

Several notes on Brody’s Godard biography…

which works from Martin’s article

June 18, 2011 Posted by | Godard, Godard/Truffaut, Truffaut | Leave a comment

FILM THEORY Francois Truffaut & Auteur Theory

Francois Truffaut & Auteur Theory

from Notes on Short film , which has done a set on auteur theory.

There is a link at the bottom to :

Truffaut’s manifesto: La Politique des Auteurs by Harry Tuttle

and the whole manifesto first published in Cahiers du Cinema in January 1954 translated into English:

A Certain Tendency of French Cinema

at My Gleanings.

The author of My Gleanings has created a bespoke blog that deals with A Certain Tendency, titled:

“The Bernanos Letter”: an inquiry into Francois Truffaut’s writing of A Certain Tendency

June 15, 2011 Posted by | auteur theory, Truffaut | Leave a comment


Godard, Schiffman, Truffaut on set of Farenheit 451 [1966]. She is credited as assistant to the director.

Obits: Guardian and Independent

Les Archives de script de Suzanne Schiffman : Godard au travail dans Pierrot le Fou

By Núria Aidelman

Facsimiles of typed and handwritten scripts and notes.

The French new wave: an artistic school By Michel Marie, Richard John Neupert [GoogleBook]

p. 77

June 13, 2011 Posted by | Film script/screenplay, film [its techniques], Godard, plan-of-action script, programme script, Suzanne Schiffman, Truffaut | Leave a comment

FILM {Truffault – Léaud – Godard}

“The fictional character Antoine Doinel is, therefore, a mixture of two real people, François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Leaud”.

Francois Truffaut

source:Francois Truffaut by Juan Carlos [Senses of Cinema]

Anthea Hall wrote an article on French actor Jean-Pierre Léaud, A man lost in a celluloid identity, in The Sunday Telegraph (17 January, 1991) in which she examined how ‘Truffault had created an entire screen persona for Leaud..’. So far there is no evidence of an online version of this article, which is a pity. It could form a companion piece to several essays on Léaud/Truffault such as Philippa Hawker’s, Jean-Pierre Léaud:Unbearable Lightness [Senses of Cinema] and Because of Tenderness: Thoughts on the Performance of
Jean-Pierre Léaud
by Rhys Graham [Senses of Cinema]

Here, the screen test Léaud did as a 14 year-old for Les Quatre Cent Coups.

March 27, 2010 Posted by | Godard, Truffaut | | Leave a comment

FILM Finger pointing



In Lonesome Jim [2205] directed by Steve Buscemi, starring Casey Affleck and Liv Tyler (watch it once/ forget it), Jim’s drug-dealing uncle tells Jim:

Because when you point a finger at somebody else, you’re pointing three at yourself and a thumb at the sky.

Admit it you tried it out and saw no thumb pointing to the sky.


There are plenty of fingers pointing on the web, but not much finger-pointing in films.


There is the finger pointing of Antoine Doinel in Truffaut’s films and other characters played by Jean-Pierre Leaud, for example Alexandre in La Maman et la Putain (The Mother and the Whore), dir. Jean Eustache, 1973, and Leaud in Truffaut’s, La Nuit Américaine [1973] (Day for Night).

Real pointing usually includes thumb in the same direction as the index finger, or thumb holding the folded second finger and pretty much pointing the same the direction as the finger. Thumb to the sky tells a good story but it’s shooting.








FILM finger point 3


Obama point 2


obama points finger


















Thomas Tallis on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week  talking about his latest book, Michelangelo’s Finger. Here a brief explanation.


I’ve also got a thing about the way electric torches are used in film. Why do they always hold them up in ‘raised fist salute’ instead of the more natural ‘watering the garden with a hose’ style? Head and shoulders framing. Medium shot fine. Close-up: torch can’t be seen.

February 20, 2010 Posted by | film [its techniques], Independent film, Steve Buscemi, Truffaut | Leave a comment

FILM TRUFFAUT His Myspace page


You’d expect a man like that with the vision and energy for film to find a way to tap into the social networks beyond the grave!

Here Truffault’s Myspace page, which is full of interesting stuff  produced by Carletto di San Giovanni, whose own myspace is pretty fulsome too.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | film analysis, film directors, film editing, film narrative, film theory, film [its techniques], francois truffaut, Truffaut | , , , , | Leave a comment

FILM Film as an act of Love {by Sukhdev Sanhu}


Film as an act of Love

by Sukhdev Sandhu

Fifty years ago, François Truffaut’s Quatre cents coups
heralded a revolution in cinema. Sukhdev Sandhu salutes
a modern classic

NewStatesman 2 April 2009

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Antoine Doinel, Cahiers du cinéma, criticism, culture, film analysis, film directors, film editing, film narrative, film theory, film [its techniques], Truffaut | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment