Small Change (film)

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Small Change
Argent poche.jpg
Directed by François Truffaut
Produced by Marcel Berbert
Written by François Truffaut,
Suzanne Schiffman
Starring Jean-François Stévenin,
Virginie Thévenet
Music by Maurice Jaubert
Cinematography Pierre-William Glenn
Edited by Yann Dedet
Martine Barraqué-Curie
Les Films du Carrosse
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
March 17, 1976
Running time
105 minutes
Country France
Language French
Box office 2,071,0404 admissions (France)[1]
$1.5 million (US)[2]

Small Change (French: L'Argent de poche) is a 1976 French film directed by François Truffaut. The title translates to "Pocket Money" from French, but since there was a Paul Newman movie called Pocket Money, Steven Spielberg suggested the title Small Change for US release.[3] In English-speaking countries outside North America the film is known as "Pocket Money". The film had a total of 1,810,280 admissions in France, making it one of Truffaut's most successful films.[4] Only The 400 Blows and The Last Metro were more popular in France.[1]


Small Change is a comedy with a serious message, based around the daily lives of young children in Thiers, France. Scenes include a baby and a cat perilously playing on an open windowsill, a girl causing confusion with a bullhorn, a double date at the movie theater, a kid telling a dirty joke, a botched haircut, as well as many scenes about school life. Yet throughout this the difficulties and responsibilities faced by children appear, including the ongoing story of a boy's experience of an abusive home. Truffaut gives a message of resilience in the face of injustice, vocalized through one of the teachers. The story ends with a message of hope, the school closing for the summer vacation, and one of the key characters finding his first love at a summer camp.

Most of the characters were not professional actors.



  • Philippe Goldmann - Julien
  • Bruno Staab - Bruno
  • Geory Desmouceaux - Patrick
  • Laurent Devlaeminck - Laurent
  • Sylvie Grezel - Sylvie
  • Pascale Bruchon - Martine
  • Claudio Deluca - Mathieu
  • Franck Deluca - Frank
  • Sebastien Marc - Oscar
  • Richard Golfier - Richard


  • Nicole Félix - Grégory's mother (as Nicole Felix)
  • Chantal Mercier - Chantal Petit, the Schoolteacher
  • Jean-François Stévenin - Jean-François Richet, the Schoolteacher
  • Virginie Thévenet - Lydie Richet
  • Tania Torrens - Nadine Riffle, hairdresser
  • René Barnerias - Monsieur Desmouceaux, Patrick's father
  • Katy Carayon - Sylvie's Mother
  • Jean-Marie Carayon - Police inspector, Sylvie's father
  • Annie Chevaldonne - Nurse
  • Francis Devlaeminck - Monsieur Riffle, hairdresser, Laurent's father
  • Michel Dissart - Monsieur Lomay, constable
  • Michele Heyraud - Madame Deluca
  • Paul Heyraud - Monsieur Deluca
  • Jeanne Lobre - Julien's grandmother (as Jane Lobre)
  • Vincent Touly - Concierge[5]


Truffaut had been collecting anecdotes about children since the time of The 400 Blows. Some of the incidents were autobiographical, like his first kiss. By 1972 the script was only a ten page synopsis. In the summer of 1974 Truffaut became more serious about the project and started developing it further. He and his co writer did not create a standard script because he wanted the freedom to improvise. In April 1975 Truffaut did location scouting and settled on the town of Thiers. He then set about casting and shooting began 17 July 1975 and went until October. The original rough cut was three hours.[2]


When released, Small Change amassed critical acclaim. It was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film. Vincent Canby of the New York Times called Small Change, "an original, a major work in minor keys"[6] and Pauline Kael described it as, "that rarity, a poetic comedy that's really funny."[7] Roger Ebert named it his favorite of the year, calling it a "magical film" and singled out the windowsill scene as "Truffaut at his best."[8] Leonard Maltin gave the movie four stars (out of four) and called it "wise, witty and perceptive."[9] The film was also entered into the 26th Berlin International Film Festival.[10]

Box Office[edit]

The film was popular at the box office, in France, the US, Germany, Scandinavia and Japan.[2] It was the 17th most popular film of the year in France.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Box Office information for Francois Truffaut films". Box Office Story. 
  2. ^ a b c de Baecque, Antoine; Toubiana, Serge (2000). François Truffaut. University of California Press. p. 322-324. 
  3. ^ Toubiana, Serge. "Steven Spielberg : la master class". Retrieved 15 January 2012. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Allen, Don. Finally Truffaut. New York: Beaufort Books. 1985. ISBN 0-8253-0335-4. OCLC 12613514. pp. 235-236.
  6. ^ New York Times review
  7. ^ review
  8. ^ Roger Ebert's review
  9. ^ Leonard Maltin's 2006 Movie Guide, Signet: New York
  10. ^ Awards for Small Change at the Internet Movie Database
  11. ^ "1976 French Box Office". Box Office Story. 

External links[edit]