Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
Original title: La Nuit Americaine
France/Italy, 1973. Les Films du Carrosse, PECF, Produzione Intercontinentale Cinematografica. Screenplay by Francois Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard, Suzanne Schiffman. Cinematography by Pierre-William Glenn. Produced by Marcel Berbert. Music by Georges Delerue. Production Design by Damien Lanfranchi. Costume Design by Monique Dury. Film Editing by Martine Barraqué, Yann Dedet.
There’s magic in just about every frame of this thoroughly enjoyable movie. Francois Truffaut details the world of film making, playing himself as a frustrated director who has every possible production problem befall his latest project. His lead actor (Jean-Pierre Léaud) is emotionally unstable and prone to flights of ridiculous romanticism, his lead actress (Jacqueline Bisset) needs a lot of personal attention, and supporting player Valentina Cortese (in a truly noteworthy performance) is a has-been star who is now playing mothers and unable to cope with her own problems. There’s a death, a destruction of equipment and complications with stuntmen, but in the end Truffaut makes sure we know he’s still happier to be doing his job than anybody else’s in the world. The sense of joy that the story displays in the middle of all the chaos is just one of the reasons that you will get no end of pleasure from watching this milestone classic, the masterpiece of any film-within-a-film that has ever been made. Look for a very young Nathalie Baye doing a fabulous job as Truffaut’s production assistant.
The Criterion Collection: #769
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Valentina Cortese); Best Foreign Language Film