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||Columbia Pictures
|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 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, and 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 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 fiancée 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.
- 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, having admired Greene's work as well.
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 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 film is often considered one of Truffaut's greatest 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."
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 honors
The film won the 1974 BAFTA Award for Best Film and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Valentina Cortese was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and Truffaut for the Academy Award for Directing. The film also received awards for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Valentine Cortese from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.
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- 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
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- "All-Time 100 Movies". Time. 12 February 2005. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
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- "The 46th Academy Awards (1974) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 3 December 2011.