Day for Night (film)
|Day for Night|
Theatrical poster by Bill Gold
|La Nuit américaine|
|Directed by||François Truffaut|
|Produced by||Marcel Berbert|
|Written by||François Truffaut|
|Music by||Georges Delerue|
|Edited by||Martine Barraquè-Curie, Yann Dedet|
Les Films du Carrosse
Produzione Internazionale Cinematografica
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||839,583 admissions (France)|
Day for Night (French: La Nuit américaine) is a 1973 French film directed by François Truffaut. It stars Jacqueline Bisset and Jean-Pierre Léaud. It is named after the filmmaking process referred to in French as la nuit américaine ("American night"), whereby sequences filmed outdoors in daylight are shot using a filter placed over the camera lens (the technique described specifically in the dialogue of Truffaut's film) or also using film stock balanced for tungsten (indoor) light and underexposed (or adjusted during post production) to appear as if they are taking place at night. In English, the technique is called day for night, which is the film's English title.
Day for Night chronicles the production of Je Vous Présente Paméla (Meet Pamela, also referred to as I want you to meet Pamela), a clichéd melodrama starring ageing 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 fiancée leaves him for the film's stuntman, which leads Alphonse into a palliative one-night stand with an accommodating Julie; thereupon, 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.
- Author Graham Greene makes a cameo appearance as an insurance company representative, billed under the name "Henry Graham". On the film's DVD, it was reported that Greene was a great admirer of Truffaut, and had always wanted to meet him, so 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, himself being an admirer of Greene's work.
One of the film's themes is whether or not films are more important than life for those who make them. It makes many allusions both to film-making and to movies themselves, perhaps unsurprisingly 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 has 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 sound like L'ennui américain ('American boredom'): Truffaut wrote elsewhere 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 such as day-for-night, that Je Vous Présente Paméla exemplifies.
The film is often considered one of Truffaut's best films. For example, it is one of two Truffaut films featured on Time magazine's list of the 100 Best Films of the Century, along with The 400 Blows. It has also been called "the most beloved film ever made about filmmaking".
Roger Ebert gave the film four stars out of four and wrote that it "is not only the best movie ever made about the movies but is also a great entertainment." He added it to his "Great Movies" list in 1997. Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "hilarious, wise and moving," with "superb" performances. Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film four stars out of four and described it as "a movie about the making of a movie; it also is a wonderfully tender story of the fragile, funny, and tough people who populate the film business." He named it the best film of the year in his year-end list. Pauline Kael of The New Yorker called the film "a return to form" for Truffaut, "though it's a return only to form." She added, "It has a pretty touch. But when it was over, I found myself thinking, Can this be all there is to it? The picture has no center and not much spirit." Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times called it "one of the most sheerly enjoyable movies of any year, for any audience. For those who love the movies as Truffault loves them, 'Day for Night' is a very special testament of that love." Richard Combs of The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote, "Easily classifiable as a lightweight work, and never digging much below the surface of either its characters or its director's particular concept of cinema, the film still manages to be an irresistable delight simply because of the élan and ingenious craftsmanship with which its traditionally dangerous, self-conscious format is handled."
Jean-Luc Godard walked out of Day for Night in disgust, and accused Truffaut of making a film that was a "lie". Truffaut responded with a long letter critical of Godard, and the two former friends never met again.
Awards and nominations
- List of French submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of submissions to the 46th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of films featuring fictional films
- Box Office information for Francois Truffaut films at Box Office Story
- "Festival de Cannes: Day for Night". festival-cannes.com. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
- Allen, Don. Finally Truffaut. New York: Beaufort Books. 1985. ISBN 0-8253-0335-4. OCLC 12613514. pp. 234.
- French, Philip (25 July 2010). "The 10 best movie cameos". The Guardian. London.
- Hitchcock Paladin 1978 pp.111–112
- "All-Time 100 Movies". Time. 12 February 2005. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Sterritt, David "Day for Night (1973)" TCM.com
- Ebert, Roger (September 7, 1973). "Day for Night". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- Ebert, Roger (December 26, 1997). "Day for Night". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
- Canby, Vincent (September 29, 1973). "Screen: 'Day for Night'". The New York Times. 22.
- Siskel, Gene (February 12, 1974). "Francois Truffaut triumphs in 'Day for Night'". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 4.
- Siskel, Gene (December 29, 1974). "On the Big 10 scoreboard: Europe 6 U.S. 4". Chicago Tribune. Section 6, p. 2.
- Kael, Pauline (October 15, 1973). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. 160, 163.
- Champlin, Charles (April 3, 1974). "Labor of Love From Truffault". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 1.
- Combs, Richard (January 1974). "La Nuit Américaine (Day for Night)". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 41 (480): 12.
- Gleiberman, Owen. "Godard and Truffaut: Their spiky, complex friendship is its own great story in 'Two in the Wave".