A GREAT PERFORMER, A PUZZLING FILM

Rick’s Journal (MY FILM CAREER)

I am mystified by Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player.  It is an enjoyable romp of a movie, and I feel unable to assess it.  I wish I might see it again, with the help of an audience around me rather than alone at home.  I watch a scene wondering if I am feeling too lighthearted toward it, given some of its seriousness.  I watch another, wondering if it is more lighthearted than my experience of it.

I do feel sure that Dyaliscope  —  whatever that is  —  is the wrong screen shape for this story which Truffaut often wants to develop with tight close-ups that are impossible.  The film is filled with faces in the middle of wide frames with nothing of interest on either side of them  —  that nothing being decidedly distracting.

Charles Aznavour, whom Truffaut seems delighted to find dressing or undressing, is a phenomenal success in the title role.  This is true charisma  —  a great artist, eminently watchable at every moment  The casting of Aznavour is the film’s greatest success.

Leonard Maltin gives the film his maximum four stars.

Shoot the Piano Player
Francois Truffaut
1960

MOVIES ARE EVERYWHERE

In Herman Wouk’s The City Boy, a coming of age novel that eventually finds Herbie at summer camp in 1928 where the Saturday night movie is a special event.  “The Black Pirate was a happy dream of sailing, fighting, and love-making in ‘natural color .’  It lasted an hour and a half and then the lights were switched on, the reeled up dream was dropped into a tin can, and the blinking children found themselves in the dingy wooden social hall of Camp Manitou once more.:  (Doubleday, 1952).

NEXT POST Friday AUGUST 9

Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

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