Daily Archives: May 16, 2021

A Possible Solution to a Mystery

For me, the most valuable single piece of film criticism by François Truffaut — the one that has taught me the most — is a fairly early one, “Un Trousseau de fausses clés,” about Alfred Hitchcock, that appeared in Cahiers du Cinéma no. 39, octobre 1954. I first encountered this article in an English translation (“Skeleton Keys”) that appeared in Film Culture (Spring 1964), then in Cahiers du Cinéma in English No. 2, 1966. I find it far more ingenious as well as useful as criticism than Truffaut’s over- fetishized “Une Certaine Tendance of Cinema Française,” and the part I remember best (I don’t have a copy handy, but trust my memory on this) is a detailed analysis of Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt in terms of “rhyming” shots and scenes, such as the two reproduced above. Many of these visual/ thematic rhymes involve the film’s two Charlies, a serial murderer of women (Joseph Cotten) and his young and beloved niece (Teresa Wright).

This is an essay that clearly helped to spawn Godard’s own best (and most detailed) work of film criticism — “Le cinéma et son double,” about Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man — as well as the structure of doubling shots and scenes in Rivette’s Céline et Julie vont en bateau. Read more

LA NUIT DU CARREFOUR: At Long Last Available

LanUitduCarrefour

Unavailable just about everywhere — except for on a SECAM French video that is now so scarce it sells for 100 Euros on French Amazon — Renoir’s gorgeous, sexy, and scandalously neglected second sound feature, a Simenon adaptation with Pierre Renoir as Maigret that is arguably the first film noir ever made anywhere, has finally made it onto DVD, with English subtitles no less, and available here. Thanks to Connor Kilpatrick for making me aware of this. (For a paragraph about this movie that I once wrote for DVD Beaver, go here and page down.)

Perhaps the biggest revelation of this film (and there are quite a few) is the young femme fatale lead, Winna Winfried, who according to Renoir was only 17 when she made it, her film debut. Her other film appearances were so few and far between that I’ve never met anyone who has ever mentioned seeing any of them. [8/24/10]

Read more