Exploring Classic Films…8 Years Ago

The other day, I decided to read old diaries I was writing during my high school years. And honestly, that was a very entertaining read as I apparently had a lot of interesting things to say. However, the truly fascinating thing about it was to read about the actors and the films I was discovering. THE CLASSICS you know. If, at the beginning of my blog, I wrote an article on how I discovered classic films. But this time, you’ll see how this discovery evolved with excerpt from my writing. Of course, these are not the secrets I was writing at the time. That’s what a diary is for. Oh no, I keep these for me! But sharing with you my discovery of classic films surely is something I’m doing with pleasure.

Note: It starts on August 17, 2010. However, I know I watch some classics before that date (such as Modern Times and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes). But I was obviously not writing every day about every classic I saw. But this should give you a good preview anyway.

Also, don’t forget that this text was originally written in French!

Here we go!


August 17, 2010:

“Now, dear pink journal (Oh dear…), I will talk about my book on cinema stars. It’s a very voluminous book without a lot of text, but mostly with pictures (very beautiful pictures). It is divided in seven chapters: first one: the femme fatale (meaning, all the beautiful actresses from the 30s to today. I almost know all of their names by heart: Grace Kelly, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall, Jean Harlow…), the second one: movie sets, the third one: the male actors. There are some very handsome ones, especially these: Marlon Brando,  James Dean, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, Warren Beatty, the fourth one: love photos, the fifth one: baby stars, the sixth one : intimate stars (stars in their everyday life) and the seventh one: the make up (ouach!).”

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“So, because of this book, I discovered the most handsome actor in the world: Marlon Brand (when he was young). He died at… 80… He was particularly handsome in the 50s. I never saw any of his films, but I saw A Streetcar Named Desire‘s trailer. I absolutely need to see this film. Brando is sublime. […] I decided to read about his life on Wikipedia and I had the revelation of my life: Marlon Brando was born on April 3, 1924. Same day as me! (Not the same year of course), I can’t believe it! Vive Marlon Brando!”

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August 22, 2010:

“A List of my favourite movies: Across the Universe, Titanic, Little Miss Sunshine, Forrest Gump, Desperately Seeking Susan, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Charlie Chaplin’s (Modern Times, The Great Dictator, The Gold Rush), Life Is Beautiful, The Aristocats, Toy Story, etc.”

 

 

August 27, 2010:

” I discovered we owned The Silence of the Lamb [at home]!!! My dad told me it was the worst horror movie he ever saw!! And we have it at home!! I will never watch this film, this is sure! I don’t really like horror movies: It prevents me to sleep and there aren’t any true goal. I kind of liked The Shining even if it was very scary. But honestly, The Silence of the Lambs, what an ugly title. Why not The Dumb Beeves?? Of course, as a great cinephile, I judge that there are some very good horror movies, like Hitchcok’s (more suspense and I’ve never seen any of his movies, but it’s probably very well-known).” (Note: Now I’ve seen The Silence of the Lambs and I think it’s an excellent film!!)

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September 18, 2010:

“[talking about my English teacher]: She’s a very good teacher. She talks fast and she’s nice. Plus, we do things about cinema. It’s really cool because I love cinema! I even had a 5 (A) in the quiz. When we talk about cinema, we must always have good grades. It’s my motto. Cinema doesn’t deserve to be ridiculized.”

“Recently I saw THE BIRDS by Alfred Hitchcock. I will add it to the top 10 I have to do for the [English] course. But the thing is it would be a top 11, so I’ll have to eliminate one film. 😦 But which one? A true cinema fan must never abandon her favourite films, even if it’s The Aristocats (my favourite animated movie).”

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December 8, 2010

“Last Saturday (or Friday) I rented The Good the Bad and the Ugly. The “good”, Blondy is played by Clint Eastwood. It’s a western by Sergio Leone. Ok, Clint definitively passed the test and has been added to my list of favourite actors. He incarnates his character very well and he’s very cool. He has style and an excellent acting game.”

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February 25, 2011

“A list of my favourite actors/actress (not in a particular order): Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, James Dean, MARLON BRANDO ❤ Richard Gere (even if I only saw him in Chicago, but he was very good), Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Tippi Something (the girl in The Birds- I meant Tippi Hedren obviously), Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Madonna (yes…!)”

 

 

March 26, 2011

“I saw, some time ago, Footloose. It really is one of my favourite movies. There’s dance and the music is very good. Kevin Bacon (the main actor) isn’t super sexy, but he dances very well! Wow!”

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“I watched A Streetcar Named Desire starring Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh (Gone With the Wind– very good actress) and Kim Hunter. It was good, but I wasn’t really expecting that. Marlon is very sexy (but kind of a brute… ok he really is. Anyway, it’s just a film and he plays his role very well).”

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“Last Tuesday at Téléquébec, they were broadcasting Les Compères (with Pierre Richard et Gérard Depardieu). I had already seen a part before on television, but, this time, I watched the whole thing. It was very good.”

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April 5, 2011

Random thought: Clint Eastwood is an excellent actor.

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April 6, 2011

War, war, war […] There isn’t going to be any war! says Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) at the beginning of Gone With the Wind. This line is very comical as the main subject of this film is the American Civil War. My new profile picture is Vivien Leigh with a very beautiful smile.”

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April 8, 2011

“I went to rent a movie. I hesitated between Casablanca and How to Marry A Millionaire. I finally went with the second choice. It’s a comedy with Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grabble, and Lauren Bacall. I hope it will be good. One of my favourite films, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, stars Marilyn Monroe (and Jane Russell). She wasn’t a very good actress and she was more famous for her beauty, but she’s funny and sympathetic.” (And I previously just mentioned she was one of my favourite actresses lol… Of course, I think she was good. Very underrated.)

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“Last Saturday, I rented Giant, with James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor. However, as it was a long film (3h20), there were two sides to the DVD. And I started with the wrong one… The actors were old and I couldn’t understand why. It’s only after that I discover there was a side A… I watched the first part the following morning. It was a good film, despite this incident.”

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April 10 , 2011

“I started watching How to Marry a Millionaire. It was sympathetic enough. A comedy. Funny, simple, not too complicated to watch when you’re tired. Anyway, I quite liked it.”

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April 11, 2011

“Yesterday, I learnt (via Wikipedia) that Marilyn Monroe died at 36. It’s very young and very sad. :(“

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“I’ll make myself a promise (an obligation): RENT CASABLANCA this weekend.”

April 13, 2011

“Another list of my favourite films : Forrest Gump, Little Miss Sunshine, Life Is Beautiful, Across the Universe, Titanic, Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin movies), The Birds, Desperately Seeking Susan, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Cinema Paradiso, Footloose, The Aristocats, Chicago, My Fair Lady, Rebel Without A Cause, Amélie, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Fried Green Tomatoes, etc…”

 

 

April 17, 2011

“I rented West Side Story. The main actress was Natalie Wood and I discovered, thanks to my book about cinema, that she also was in Rebel Without A Cause with James Dean! :O Anyway, she sings well (I obviously didn’t know at the time that it was Marnie Nixon’s voice!). It was a good film, but sad. A good musical. The music was good, but the coolest thing was the choreographies. There were really nice. There’s a song in the film, I’m sure I heard it before. It was very much in the style of The Sound of Music or My Fair Lady, but it’s really not the same type of film.”

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“Before supper, I rented Casablanca. […] It was a good film (I can’t say the opposite as it won the Oscar for Best Picture in the 40s). No, but seriously, it was good. Sad also. Excellent actors (Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman who is also perfect physically speaking- I’m jealous!). I liked the piano player. He was nice.”

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April 18, 2011

“I will borrow the following movie at the Great Library next Wednesday: Four Weddings and a Funeral, American Beauty, maybe Pulp Fiction, Flashdance…”

 

 

April 28, 2011

“So, Wednesday the 19, I went to the Great Library to borrow movies. But it’s really shitty. All the films I wanted to see were under reparation, already borrowed or had been stolen. I still borrowed two that were appealing: Flashdance and The Broadway Melody. So, as I wasn’t satisfied enough, I went to the video store where I rented Four Weddings and A Funeral and American Beauty. The same evening I watched Four Weddings and A Funeral. It was good, captivating, but I was expecting more. There was something American about it, even if it’s a British movie.”

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“The following day, my cousin came home […] After supper, we (me, my cousin and my sister) watched American Beauty. It was good but very peculiar sometimes. I mean, the father is in love with his daughter’s friend (who is like 16).”

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“The following day, we went to the countryside house. […] In the evening, we watched Flashdance! It’s really nice!”

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“(talking about another day) In the evening, at home, I watched The Broadway Melody. It’s a black and white movie that won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1929. It was nice. I liked the voice of the actors and the story was interesting. One of the actresses, Anita Page, also played in one of the Buster Keaton films I own: Free & Easy.”

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“(another day) I rented another movie at the video store: Bonnie and Clyde. I watched it in the evening and I really liked it. I will disguise myself as Bonnie for Halloween at school! However, it ends very abruptly. Also, the actor who played Clyde, Warren Beatty, is SO SEXY. ARRRG! I saw him before in Dick Tracy but he was older and not really sexy.”

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“(another day) After school, I rented Pulp Fiction. […] It was good, but not as much as I would have thought. Uma Thurman plays in it and she’s very good. However, we see her for a moment and then she does a drug overdose and is saved. John Travolta (Vincent) takes her home and asks her to be careful. And we don’t see her for the rest of the film… Really violent sometimes. However, the music is very good. There’s Comance by The Revels. At So You Think You Can Dance, they did a group dance on this music. The choreography was very good!”

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“Saturday (yesterday) I rented Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (with Grace Kelly and Cary Grant). […] It took time before I could watch the film because there was a problem with the television, but we finally fixed it. So, the film was very good. Good actors, good story, beautiful landscapes, beautiful costumes. It takes place in France (around Nice and Cannes) and it’s really beautiful. There’s a huge “coincidence” because, at some point in the film, Grace Kelly and Cary Grant are in a car in mountain road and it’s really ugly (that’s literally the word I used) because that’s how Grace Kelly died. She was driving on a mountain road and she did a bad maneuver and her car fell in the cliff. It’s sad.”

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May 8, 2011

“I watched Thelma & Louise. I liked it. […] Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon and Brad Pitt play in it. It liked the ending. It’s sad, but touching.”

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May 13, 2011.

“After school, I went to the video store and I rented Life Is Beautiful and It’s a Wonderful Life. Thursday I watched It’s A Wonderful Life. It was really good, more than I would have thought. I almost cried at the end (it’s not sad, but touching). James Stewart plays in it. I perfectly understand why Hitchcock used him for many of his films: he’s very good at expressing the feeling of fear. Well, the ending of the film takes place during Christmas so it wasn’t very appropriate for May but it still was beautiful.”

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May 16, 2011

“I rented another film: All That Jazz and I watched it after supper. It was kind of good, but I was expecting more. Sometimes, it was difficult to understand. Next time, I will probably rent La Dolce Vita.”

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May 19, 2011

“In the evening, I rented a film. I chose La Guerre des Boutons. […] The film was really funny, sympathetic. Not a masterpiece like Forrest Gump, but good.”

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May 20, 2011

“I rented Gigi.”

May 21, 2011

“I watched Gigi. It’s similar to My Fair Lady. A musical, not the best one I’ve seen. The story is good and it’s entertaining.”

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Some Saturday in May:

“I rented Schindler’s List. My cousin came home after supper (she arrived around 9:30 as a matter of fact). We watched the film (not completely as it lasts 3 hours). We went to sleep at midnight and we continued it the following day. It’s really a good movie, but it’s really difficult to watch. Let’s say Nazis were really cruel toward Jews …” (you don’t say?!)

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June 12, 2011

“Saturday, I rented Rain Man with Tom Cruise (sexy) and another actor whose name I don’t remember. It was very good.”

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June 14, 2011

“I think the next movie I’ll rent would be The Talented Mr. Ripley with Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law. It watched the trailer and it looks good. I would also like to see The King’s Speech. “

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June 20, 2011

“Back, from school, I made a list of the next films to rent: Some Like It Hot, The Seven Years Itch, Guys & Dolls (a musical With Marlon Brando), Pretty Woman, 8 1/2 (it looks weird but good), La Dolce Vita.”

 

 

August 25, 2011

“I rented Some Like It Hot. It was really funny! It stars Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon (he’s very funny).”

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August 27, 2011.

 “I bought three movies: Rebel Without A Cause, Some Like It Hot and Bonnie & Clyde!”

“(another day) I the evening, I watched Saving Private Ryan. It was very good, but also very violent. It takes place during the Second World War. Avoid it if you’re sensible. But I got used to it. It’s sad. Very sad.”

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“During the last 2 weeks, I saw many movies:

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort: Musical with Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Dorléac, Gene Kelly, George Chakiris, etc. Really a good movie with super cool costumes.

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Roman Holiday: With Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. We loved it me and my mother.

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All About Eve: Very interesting. With Bette Davis (great actress). A great concept, especially the ending.

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Pretty Woman: The version I rented was only in English and only had English subtitles, but it was very easy to understand and it was good enough. It stars Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.

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The Sound of Music: With Julie Andrews. It really wasn’t what I was expecting. I mean, it was really incredible. Touching, I adored it!

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Shakespeare in Love: It was good, but not as much as I would have thought (in comparison with the trailer)”

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October 31, 2011

“Of course, I watched movies during this long writing break!

Chinatown: With two excellent actors: Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson and directed by an excellent director: Roman Polanski. But well, it’s a bit complicated to understand. Good suspense.

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Hair: An excellent musical. Seriously, I adored it and the music was fu**ing (sorry for the language) good. Also, it reminded me of many other movies: C.R.A.Z.Y. when people fly in the chapel; Across the Universe: same time period, same giant puppets; Forrest Gump: Same time period and one of the songs is in the soundtrack (Aquarius), and All that Jazz for the psychedelic touch. I love psychedelia!

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Breakfast At Tiffany’s: With Audrey Hepburn. Not her best film, but she’s a very good actress and it was not a bad movie! (There was a sexy dude).

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The Apartment: With Shirley MacLaine (Warren Beatty’s sister). Very good. And… JACK LEMMON! I love this actor! A very good film and Billy Wilder certainly is one of my favourite movie directors.

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Guys and Dolls: Marlon Brando <3, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, and Vivien Blaine. It was good. The choreographies were cool and it was funny when Marlon Brando was singing and dancing.

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Citizen Kane: Ok, it’s supposed to be one of the best films of all time, but it was a bit too political for me. But I recognize it’s a good movie. Orson Welles is a good actor/director (he was only 25).

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Rear Window: Excellent Hitchcock film with James Stewart and Grace Kelly. Two of my favourite actors.

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Dirty Dancing: Good, but not my favourite dance movie. But the sexy guy danced very well! :)”

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November 14, 2011

“Films I saw :

Sabrina: (Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart). I borrowed it from the library but the DVD had a problem and it was very annoying. But despite that it was good (it must be even better with a good DVD copy).

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Tootsie: It was funny! With Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange. I watched it with my mother and she liked it too.

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Singin’ in the Rain: A very good image quality, good story, funny, cool costumes. I liked it.”

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February 7, 2012

“Classic films I saw:

Dial M for Murder: Hitchcock. With Grace Kelly. Even better than I would have thought. My mother liked it too.

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Goodfellas: My father bought the DVD. It was funny but they kill a lot of people. I liked the last image of the film and the guy (Ray Liotta) is kind of sexy.

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Funny Face: (Stanley Donen. With Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire). Nice and the costumes are really cool.

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City Lights (Chaplin): Very good and so cute. He’s in love with a blind woman. AWWW!

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The Godfather Part 1: Very good. Pow! Pow! And the actors are very good. Detail: there’s a horse head in the bed of a man…

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Documentaries about Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Audrey Hepburn, Gary Cooper, Charlton Heston and Cary Grant. Interesting! It was only in English so I didn’t understand everything perfectly.

Cabaret: Very good! The story is good.

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On the Waterfront: The best film I saw with a YOUNG Marlon Brando. Very good. Good suspense. Bad aspect: Marlon Brando likes pigeons in this film.

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Cry Baby: Johnny Depp plays in it. It was good but not as much as I would have thought. However, the song Please Mr. Jailer is very good.

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Vertigo: Hitchcock film. Very freaky but very good. With James Stewart! And Kim Novak.”

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February 9, 2012

“In Art and Communication, we continued the class on cinema (we started with The Lumiere Brothers and George Méliès Tuesday). So, we talked about Max Linder, Charlie Chaplin, and German Expressionism. We watch a clip from Chaplin’s The Circus and from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (it’s very weird but fascinating).”

 

 

“They will screen Hitchcock films at the Cinema du Parc! On the weekend of the 25, I’ll go to see The Birds or Dial M for Murder, or both. It’s so cool!”

July 1st 2012

“Films: Well, I saw many since February! Last weekend I saw Cyrano de Bergerac. Very good, excellent acting and touching. And High Society. It’s a musical and a remake of The Philadelphia Story directed by Cukor and starring Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, and Cary Grant. High Society starred Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby. It was better than I was expecting and funny! The music didn’t really mark me, more the story and the characters. But I did like the song “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”. Of course, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra having very beautiful voices. Ah! Louis Armstrong also was in this film!”

 

 


I stopped the writing of my journal there and only started again in 2014, for a few months.

Obviously, my opinion for some of these films and actors has change in eight years!

And I obviously had an obsession with Marlon Brando (still do) and Clint Eastwood!

See you!

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Ingrid Bergman: Citizen of the World

I invite you to read my text on Ingrid Bergman as a transnational figure. 🙂

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Hello dear readers! Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve published anything on this blog. Sorry!  Today, I’m back with something I hope you’ll find interesting. Last semester, at university, I had a course named Transnational Approaches to Cinema. We had to choose a “transnational” subject to work on and this was done in three steps during the duration of the course. We created maps representing the transnational aspects of the subject and these were accompanied by texts. So, the final result was a synthesis of a all that. I chose Ingrid Bergman as a subject and I couldn’t have thought of a more fascinating one. The following text won’t only help you understand Ingrid Bergman’s transnationalism, but also how she, somehow, became a “citizen of the world”.

Keep in mind that this is an academical text so the writing style differs from the one I normally use on my…

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A Film Dedicated to Lillian and Dorothy Gish : La Nuit Américaine (François Truffaut, 1973)

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La Nuit américaine (Day for Night) is one of those films I watched during the first years of my cinematic exploration. I remember liking back then but when I saw it for the second time years after, at the Outremont Theatre in Montreal, my reaction to it was completely different. I the right way. I can now definitely say it’s one of my most favourite French films. And it was directed by François Truffaut. So, in any way, it’s a MUST. I saw Thoughts All Sorts‘s Non-English Language Blogathon as a good occasion to tell you more about the awesomeness of this film.

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This 1973’s film is actually about the making of a film, Je vous présente Pamela (Meet Pamela), which tells the story of a newlywed couple whose bride eventually falls in love with her step-father and vice-versa. But Meet Pamela itself isn’t so relevant. What’s important about La Nuit américaine is to see the work of the cast and crew on the film. It’s something fascinating to witness and does make you want work on a film, despite the lot of problems that comes with that. Interestingly, the director, Ferrand, is played by Truffaut himself. The rest of the cast is as fascinating, but we’ll come back to it.

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The title, La Nuit américaine, refers to this process of putting a dark filter in front of the camera to simulate a night scene, but during the day. The name of this process in English is called day for night. It’s a film about the glory of cinema. The thought of it is omnipresent in the characters’ minds from the beginning until the end. They live for it. Simple as that. And Joëlle (Natalie Baye) says it:

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François Truffaut was an important figure of the French New-Wave with movies such as Les 400 Coups or Jules & Jim, but can we talk about New Wave in La Nuit américaine‘s case. Je ne pense pas. The thing is, we mostly associate this movement with the late 50s and the 60s. There are echoes to the New Wave style in La Nuit américaine, but it wouldn’t be the best representation of the movement either. I think the celebration of cinema actually could be what we associate the most with the French New Wave in this case. After all, the Truffauts and Godards of this world were all convinced cinephiles. La Nuit américaine, as it is indicated in an article by Le Cinéma Avec un Grand A might have been more influenced by Hollywood and Italian cinema. Also, if you compare it to Jean-Luc Goddard Le Mépris (Contempt) another film about the making of a film, an example that truly belongs to the French New Wave era, well, there’s no comparison. Besides, when La Nuit américaine, Jean-Luc Godard, who apparently hated the movie, sent a letter to Truffaut criticizing the way the movie industry is depicted and calling him a liar. He also reproached him a too mainstream approach. Truffaut was not pleased at all with Godard’s snobbism and, unfortunately, this led to the end their long life friendship, which Godard regretted, especially after Truffaut’s death. He died quite young, in 1984 at the age of 52. If you want to learn more about that, I suggest you watch the numerous Criterion DVD supplements. There are a lot of interesting stories.

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But despite Goddard’s criticism, La Nuit américaine was well-received and won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and Truffaut was even nominated for Best Director. The film was even called “the most beloved film ever made about filmmaking”. And I won’t deny it. It’s an intelligent film, but also an accessible one that everybody can enjoy. There’s something very agreeable in it. There’s a bit of everything: comedy and drama. Just the beginning makes you realize you’re about to watch something intriguing. It starts with a man (Jean-Pierre Léaud) coming out from a subway station. He then walks toward an older man (Jean Pierre Aumont) and slaps him. Immediately after, director Ferrand (Truffaut) shots “Cut!” The camera then shows us the film crew and we understand these are only two actors, Alphonse and Alexandre (we never know their last names), and that a film is being shot. I think it would be great to see this film for the first time without knowing anything about it. The surprise effect in this scene would be truly significant.

A good element of Truffaut’s film is the variety of the casting.

Once again, François Truffaut cast Jean-Pierre Léaud, who had starred in his first important film, Les 400 Coups, as Antoine Doinel. Léaud would star in a total of seven movies directed by Truffaut. Playing the role of the tragic Alphonse (who is cast as the groom in Meet Pamela), the young actor plays with an admirable easiness. There’s a lot of innocence in his character, but he’s also one that doesn’t like to be fooled. The mix of it is delicious. He knows perfectly how to play the diva because, yes, Alphonse is one!

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British actress Jacqueline Bisset was cast in the role of Julie Baker (who plays Pamela in Meet Pamela). The beautiful actress is an absolute wonder in this film. There’s a true softness in her acting and it fits perfectly her character. Her accent adds a touch of authenticity to her character which is truly appreciated. Jacqueline Bisset is an admirable actress.

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Jean-Pierre Aumont, who plays Alexandre, is cast as Pamela’s step-father in the film they are making. The charisma that surrounds this actor is magic. And we notice a great teamwork with co-actress Valentina Cortese. A charming actor, Jean-Pierre Aumont is hard to miss when he’s in a room. His acting is very natural and easily appreciable. No extravagance, sometimes is the best thing.

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Severine, who plays the role of Pamela’s step-mother, was portrayed by the one and only Valentina Cortese. Her acting is more eccentric but it fits her character perfectly. So, we’re OK with that! What’s not to love about her? Her dynamism, her passion, and her devotion to the role are contagious. The Italian actress received her only Oscar nomination but lost it to Ingrid Bergman for Murder On the Orient Express (which also stars Jacqueline Bisset). The Swedish actress herself was in great admiration with her performance.

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Winner of Four Césars, Nathalie Baye is now known as one of the most important actresses of the French movie industry. Bu,  in 1973, she was only at her third role. Interestingly, her role of script girl was modeled on Truffaut’s own script girl Suzanne Schiffman. Billy Wilder even asked Truffaut if he used his own script girl for the film. When she heard about it, Natalie Baye felt a bit insulted, but she later saw it as a huge compliment. The role she plays, Joëlle, might be my favourite one in the film. The script girl would do anything to make sure the problems during the shooting are solved even if this means not sleeping at night. Natalie Baye acting is admirable and convincing. She was on the right track to win these numerous Cesars.

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Who could think of a better person than the director of THE film to play the director of A film? François Truffaut’s acting is very humble, so he reminds convincing, even if acting was not his first vocation. It’s interesting how he sort of had to direct La Nuit américaine, but also the film within the film: Je vous présente Pamela.

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I cannot talk about all the actors but I’ll conclude with Bernard Ménez who plays the prop man. A funny one! I like the way his role is highlighted which makes us realize the importance of a good prop. His part is secondary but, somehow, he seems to always be there. I like the way his character works on the film and how he dares saying what he thinks.

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The rest of the actors were all brilliant and also deserved their praising: the Canadian Alexandra Stewart, the English David Markham (by the way, I just learnt he was born the same day as me. Interesting!), the French Dani, Jean Champion, Nike Arrighi, Jean-François Stévenin, Xavier Saint-Macary, and even author Graham Greene in an uncredited role!

La Nuit américaine offers a screenplay that, as I said, celebrates the art of film. Not only with discussions about cinema but also with the simple choice of great and well-researched lines. Each one of them is perfectly associated with the characters’ personality. This is important because what they say is as significant as what they do. Truffaut is one of those directors who understood that everything is relevant to a film. Narratively, La Nuit américaine could be used as a TO-DO example. This screenplay and the various lines inspire a devotion to the cinema but also reflect all its sides, the good and bad ones.

Here are a few examples of what I considered to be the best lines of the film and this, for various reasons:

1- Ferrand: “The Godfather” is showing all over Nice. It’s wiping out every other movie.

2- Ferrand: Making a film is like a stagecoach ride in the old west. When you start, you are hoping for a pleasent trip. By the half way, you just hope to survive.

3- Alphonse: [after being dumped by his girlfriend] I need money to go to a whorehouse.

4- Alphonse: I’m sure Ferrand is wrong. Life is more important than films.

5- Alphonse: Are women magic?

6- Ferrand: What is a film director? A man who’s asked questions about everything.

7- Ferrand: We’ll shoot the scene when you find a cat that can act!

8- Madame Lajoie: What is this – filmmaking? You call that a business? You’ve no morals. Everybody sleeps with everyone! What is it but a dirty lie. You call that normal? Filthy cinema- you’re a plague on the world! You smell of filth! You’ll pay for your sins! I despise you!

9- Alexandre: Remember when we first met in Hollywood?

Séverine: No dates! Never mention numbers! Or I’ll tell everyone you had a facelift!

Alexandre: Not yet. It’s coming! [Séverine laughs]

10- Alphonse: In your opinion, are women magic?

Alexandre: Some are, yes. Others, no!

11- Alphonse: Bernard, are women magic?

Bernard: Not women, their legs! That’s why they wear skirts.

12- Joelle: Everyone’s nuts on this movie!

13- Julie: I’m sick of disguises. I’m quitting movies. I know that life is rotten.

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George Deleru’s magnificent score is something we can’t miss. It was perfectly composed in function of what’s happening in the film. At the beginning of the story, when they are shooting this scene where Alphonse slaps Alexandre, we feel the music follows the movement of the cameras, the machinery, and the actors. It’s a beautiful melody that makes the film even more agreeable to watch. For more tense scenes, Delerue uses a more tense sound. One of my favourite examples is when Julie Baker arrives at Nice at the airport.

Actually, this might be one of my most favourite scenes from the film for the way it’s shot. First, we see a very long shot of Julie’s plane arriving at the airport. Flashes start to appear. We’re not sure where they come from but they just announce numerous paparazzis that welcome Julie in the next shot. Delerue’s composition is what makes this scene kind of fascinating and make it looked like a brilliantly staged chaos. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a clip from this scene.

Music is also at its full glory in this scene where we only see the cast and the crew working. We don’t hear anyone speaking. Only images. The music, once again, accompanies perfectly the action. This scene is sort of presented to us like a movie clip.

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La Nuit américaine is an absolute favourite of mine now and I do believe it’s the best film about the making of a film ever made. It’s beautiful, it’s entertaining, and it’s clever. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you find the Criterion DVD (or BlueRay) and do it as soon as possible. Hoping you’ll be as fascinated by it as I am.

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A film is a story, but the making of it is also one. And who could tell us this in a better way than the legendary François Truffaut?

Many thanks to Thoughts All Sorts for hosting this blogathon. Talking about other things than classic American films is refreshing and a good change once in a while. I thought of writing this article in French. Mais bon, we’ll stick to our habits.

Click here to access the other blogathon articles!

À la prochaine!

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Source

– ” La Nuit américaine (film).” Wikipedia. 5 July 2018. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Nuit_am%C3%A9ricaine_(film). Accessed Jul 28, 2018.

– “La Nuit américaine, l’envers du décors selon François Truffaut.” Le Cinéma avec un grand A. 22 Jan 2018. https://lecinemaavecungranda.com/2018/01/22/la-nuit-americaine-lenvers-du-decor-selon-francois-truffaut/. Accessed Jul 28, 2018.

“La Nuit américaine (trivia).” IMDB. nd. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070460/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv. Accessed Jul 28, 2018.