Day for Night (film)

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Day for Night
La Nuit oscar.jpg
Theatrical poster by Bill Gold
Directed by François Truffaut
Produced by Marcel Berbert
Written by François Truffaut
Suzanne Schiffman
Jean-Louis Richard
Starring Jacqueline Bisset
Valentina Cortese
Dani
Alexandra Stewart
Jean-Pierre Aumont
Jean Champion
Jean-Pierre Léaud
François Truffaut
Music by Georges Delerue
Cinematography Pierre-William Glenn
Edited by Martine Barraquè-Curie, Yann Dedet
Production
  company
Les Films du Carrosse
PECF
Produzione Internazionale Cinematografica
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Warner Brothers
Release date(s)
  • 14 May 1973 (1973-05-14) (Cannes)
  • 24 May 1973 (1973-05-24) (France)
Running time 115 minutes
Country France
Language French

La Nuit américaine is a 1973 French film directed by François Truffaut. It stars Jacqueline Bisset and Jean-Pierre Léaud. In French, nuit américaine (American night) is a technical process whereby sequences filmed outdoors in daylight are shot using tungsten (artificial light) or infrared film stock and underexposed (or dimmed during post production) to appear as if they are taking place at night. In the English-speaking world the film is known as Day for Night, which is the equivalent English expression for the process.

Plot[edit]

La Nuit américaine chronicles the production of Je Vous Présente Paméla (Meet Pamela, also referred to as I want you to meet Pamela), a clichéd melodrama starring aging screen icon, Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Aumont), former diva Séverine (Valentina Cortese), young heart-throb Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Léaud) and a British actress, Julie Baker (Jacqueline Bisset) who is recovering from both a nervous breakdown and the controversy leading to her marriage with her much older doctor.

In between are several small vignettes chronicling the stories of the crew-members and the director; Ferrand (Truffaut himself) who tangles with the practical problems one deals with when making a movie. Behind the camera, the actors and crew go through several romances, affairs, break-ups, and sorrows. The production is especially shaken up when one of the secondary actresses is revealed to be pregnant. Later Alphonse's fiancee leaves him for the film's stuntman, which leads Alphonse into a palliative one-night stand with an accommodating Julie; whereupon, mistaking Julie's pity sex for true love, the infantile Alphonse informs Julie's husband of the affair. Finally, Alexandre dies on the way to hospital after a car accident.

Cast[edit]

Themes[edit]

One of the film's themes is whether or not films are more important than life for those who make them, its many allusions both to film-making and to movies themselves (perhaps unsurprising given that Truffaut began his career as a film critic who championed cinema as an art form). The film opens with a picture of Lillian and Dorothy Gish, to whom it is dedicated. In one scene, Ferrand opens a package of books he had ordered: they are books on directors he admires such as Luis Buñuel, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Ingmar Bergman, Alfred Hitchcock, Jean-Luc Godard, Ernst Lubitsch, Roberto Rossellini and Robert Bresson. The film's title in French could be read as L'ennui américain ('American boredom'): Truffaut wrote elsewhere [2] of the way French cinema critics inevitably make this pun of any title which uses 'nuit'. Here he deliberately invites his viewers to recognise the artificiality of cinema, particularly the kind of American-style studio film, with its reliance on effects like day-for-night, that Je Vous Présente Paméla exemplifies.

The writer Graham Greene has a cameo appearance as an insurance company representative in the film, credited as "Henry Graham".[3] On the DVD of the movie, it was reported that Greene was a great admirer of Truffaut, and had always wanted to meet him, so as it turned out, when the small part came up where he actually talks to the director, he was delighted to have the opportunity. It was reported that Truffaut was unhappy he wasn't told (until later) that the actor playing the insurance company representative was Greene, as he would have liked to have made his acquaintance, having admired Greene's work as well.

Recognition[edit]

The film was screened at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, but wasn't entered into the main competition.[4]

The film won the 1974 BAFTA Award for Best Film and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.[5] Valentina Cortese was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and Truffaut for the Academy Award for Directing.

The film is often considered one of Truffaut's greatest films. For example, it is one of two Truffaut films featured on Time magazine's top 100 list of the 100 Best Films of the Century, along with The 400 Blows.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allen, Don. Finally Truffaut. New York: Beaufort Books. 1985. ISBN 0-8253-0335-4. OCLC 12613514. pp. 234.
  2. ^ Hitchcock Paladin 1978 pp.111-112
  3. ^ French, Philip (2010-07-25). "The 10 best movie cameos". The Guardian (London). 
  4. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Day for Night". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  5. ^ "The 46th Academy Awards (1974) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-12-03. 
  6. ^ "All-Time 100 Movies". Time. 2005-02-12. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 

External links[edit]