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10 Films to Watch if You Like: Day For Night

It's hard to think of anyone who loved cinema more. Even Martin Scorsese has to concede that François Truffaut was the ultimate cineaste and this year marks the 50th anniversary of his Oscar-winning paean to his passion. Cinema Paradiso examines why Day For Night (1973) is by far the finest film that has ever been made about the mayhemic, maddening, and magical world of movie making.

François Truffaut's 13th feature, La Nuit américaine/Day For Night (1973), took its title from the term for using camera filters to make it look as though a scene shot in daylight was actually filmed in darkness. It's an overt reference to the illusory nature of cinema. But it also alludes to the influence that America had come to exert on French film and culture since the rise of Hollywood in the 1910s.

A still from Day for Night (1973) With Jacqueline Bisset
A still from Day for Night (1973) With Jacqueline Bisset

First and foremost a cineaste and a storyteller, Truffaut wasn't renowned for making trenchant political statements. Indeed, Day For Night includes a joke at his own expense on his apolitical approach to film-making. Consequently, his focus falls on turning fantasies into filmic reality. In revealing some tricks of the trade, however, Truffaut doesn't hog the limelight. Shedding his auteur tag, he sets out to show that making a film is a collaborative enterprise. Moreover, he mischievously demonstrates that it's just as difficult to make a bad film as it is a good one.

The Evolving Auteur

When he started making shorts like Une Visite (1955) and Les Mistons (1957), François Truffaut was one of the most feared film critics in France. Acerbic and acute, his reviews and articles had taught audiences to look again at the entertainment served up at their local cinemas. Inspired by Cahiers du Cinéma editor André Bazin, Truffaut had rejected the literary approach of so many postwar French directors in calling for the camera to be used in the same way as a pen, so that film's bore the signature of their makers. Such was his obsession with films that he later revealed in an interview: ' I think about cinema for so many hours a day, and have for so many years, that I can't stop myself from putting life and the movies in comparison. And from reproaching life for not being as well designed, interesting, dense, and intense as the images we organise.'

There was no mistaking who was behind such innovative eruptions of cinematic innovation as The 400 Blows (1959), Shoot the Piano Player (1960), and Jules et Jim (1962). But, while these nouvelle vague classics influenced directors around the world, Truffaut grew less iconoclastic as the 1960s progressed. Take a look at Cinema Paradiso's Instant Expert's Guide to see how his perspective shifted over the next dozen years, as the desire to remain within a milieu he adored took precedence over producing statement cinema. As a consequence, by the time he started Day For Night, Truffaut and fellow new wavers like Claude Chabrol, Éric Rohmer, Jacques Demy, Alain Resnais, and Louis Malle were very much part of the French film-making establishment.

The exceptions were Jacques Rivette, Agnès Varda, and Jean-Luc Godard, who had formed the Dziga-Vertov Group with Jean-Pierre Gorin in order to fashion agit-prop offerings like Vladimir and Rosa (1971) and Tout va bien (1972). Although once close to Truffaut, Godard had drifted away politically and artistically and, as we shall see, the release of Day For Night brought their friendship to a juddering halt.

Godard was not alone in questioning whether Truffaut had shot his creative bolt, however, as he had struggled with The Bride Wore Black (1968) and Mississippi Mermaid (1969) to emulate his hero, Alfred Hitchcock. Moreover, the 1962 short, 'Antoine et Colette', and the features Stolen Kisses (1968) and Bed and Board (1970) were viewed as sequels in the Antoine Doinel cycle that had started with The 400 Blows and would conclude with Love on the Run (1979).

There had been acclaim for The Soft Skin (1964) and The Wild Child (1970), in which Truffaut had also taken the key role of Jean Marc Gaspard Itard, the doctor who had taken custody of Victor of Aveyron (Jean-Pierre Cargol), after the youth had been found naked and incommunicative in a forest in southern France in 1798. But what really fired Truffaut's imagination and restored him to the peak of his powers was his intriguing observation: 'An idiotic but energetic film can be better cinema than an intelligent but flabby film.' In order to prove his contention, he devised a story that lifted the veil on a movie set to show how a screenplay evolves through the interaction of a director with their the cast and crew.

A Hard Day For Night

Running up some Métro steps into a bustling Parisian square, a young man seeks out his father and slaps him across the face. At that moment, film director Ferrand (François Truffaut) calls 'Cut!' and asks Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Léaud) and Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Aumont) for another take for his new feature, Meet Pamela. The crew reset and the extras receive notes on how to improve the action, as Ferrand is inundated with numerous minor issues requiring his urgent attention.

At the Hotel Atlantic, Alphonse tells girlfriend Liliane (Dani) that Ferrand lost the hearing in his left ear when he was in the artillery. As they push the single beds together in their room, Alphonse impulsively proposes and Liliane stalls him, as they barely know each other and she wants to enjoy her new job as a script assistant before getting tied down. More immediately, while he wants to go to one of Nice's 37 cinemas, she wants to dine in a fine restaurant.

A still from The Godfather (1972)
A still from The Godfather (1972)

Ferrand has also noted the number of movie theatres, but is dismayed to read in the paper how many of them are showing Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972). But he doesn't allow himself much downtime and heads to a cramped screening room to watch the previous day's rushes. Problems follow him, however, as he is informed that there has been a power cut at the processing laboratory and that all of the footage for the square sequence will need to be reshot. Continuity clerk Joëlle (Nathalie Baye) meticulously takes notes on a scene in which the young man from the square informs his mother that he is going to kill everyone. She is played by Italian diva, Séverine (Valentina Cortese), who never views the dailies and is fretting in her dressing-room with Odile the make-up artist (Nike Arrighi) because she is about to be reunited with Alexandre, who had been her lover during their time in Hollywood.

Already under considerable strain because her son is dying, Séverine is so nervous about her scene with Alexandre that she gets tipsy and mistakenly opens a cupboard door while making her exit. Put off by the fact that Odile has been corralled into playing her maid, Séverine forgets her lines and asks Joëlle to place prompt cards around the set. When she opens the wrong door for the third time, Ferrand sends Séverine for a rest while he thinks of an alternative way of ending the scene.

He incurs a problem the next day when Stacey (Alexandra Stewart), who plays the secretary of Alexandre's character, refuses to do a scene in a bathing costume because she is pregnant and worries the bump will show. As she will not be needed for the next six weeks, Ferrand is in favour of firing her for breaking the terms of her contract. But producer Bertrand (Jean Champion) argues her case and she leaves with Ferrand's blessing, as his mood has been improved by a parcel of books about his film-making heroes. Besides, he is about to welcome his American star, Julie Baker (Jacqueline Bisset), who will play Pamela, the new bride who divides a family by falling in love with her father-in-law.

Ironically, Julie has just married an older man, Dr Nelson (David Markham), who had helped her recover from a nervous breakdown. He is given a seat on the set, while Julie plays a motel tryst scene with Alexandre that culminates in her placing a breakfast tray outside the room door. A grey kitten is supposed to run in and lap the milk in a saucer, but the animal refuses to co-operate and Ferrand is relieved when Joëlle finds the studio tabby, who proves a better actor.

After working on a late-night rewrite of a kitchen scene with Joëlle, Ferrand has a word with Alphonse about concentrating on his job and not getting jealous because Liliane is flirting with the stills photographer (Pierre Zucca). However, his mood is to darken when a British stuntman (Marc Boyle) takes a shine to Liliane at a cocktail party at which Alexandre introduces Christian (Xavier Saint-Macary), a handsome younger man he is in the process of adopting.

En route to the location for the stunt car crash, Joëlle has impromptu sex with Bernard the production designer (Bernard Ménez). But Liliane has clearly had a night of passion with the stuntman and they disappear together, leaving Joëlle to aver that she could never leave a film for a man. Alphonse is distraught and wanders away from a group photo, in which he is replaced by the now heavily pregnant Stacey.

Disconcerted by the day's happenings, Ferrand has a dream in which his younger self (Christophe Vesque) uses a cane to steal some glossy photos of Orson Welles's Citizen Kane (1941) from a cinema display behind a security grille. In seeking her own room without her glasses, Joëlle walks in on Bernard in bed with Odile and smiles. Downstairs, Séverine is hosting a farewell dinner party and laments that people on film sets become so intimate with one another, only for the shoot to end and everyone go their separate ways. As her colleagues head for their rooms, Alphonse asks Ferrand for money to visit a brothel. But the director ushers him back to his room and seeks to calm him with the words: 'You're a very good actor. No one's personal life runs smoothly. That only happens in the traffic jams or useless downtime. Movies move along like trains in the night, and people like you and me are only happy in our work.'

Peevishly deciding to quit acting, Alphonse calls Julie to say goodbye. She hurries to his room and winds up staying the night. Next morning, she rushes to the set unaware that Alphonse has called her husband to inform him that he and Julie are now an item. When Joëlle discovers that Julie's bed has not been slept in, Madame Lajoie (Zénaïde Rossi), the prudish, forever knitting wife of one of the crew members overhears and launches into a diatribe about the morality of film folk.

Following a phone call from Dr Nelson, Julie retreats to her room and demands tub butter to soothe her. Ferrand delivers this in an bid to cajole her back on to the set, but leaves a mournful phrase ringing in his ears, which he promptly turns into a speech for her to give to Alphonse in the costume party scene they are about to do. However, the shoot is interrupted with news that Alexandre has been killed in a car crash.

An insurance agent (Graham Greene) informs Ferrand that he will have to shoot around the dead actor and he has to rely on a stand-in for the scene in the snow-covered Parisian square in which Alphonse's character shoots the father who had cuckolded him. Julie departs with her forgiving spouse and wishes Alphonse well, as the cast and crew wrap up to return to Paris. As Bernard tells a TV crew that he hopes everyone enjoys Meet Pamela because everyone had a high old time making it, a helicopter shot rises above the flats propped up by scaffolding on the backlot at Victorine Studios. The editors and composer still have work to do, as does Ferrand. But at least his film is in the can.

V For Victorine

A still from Anne and Muriel (1971)
A still from Anne and Muriel (1971)

In 1962, while recording the book-length interview that forms the basis of Kirk Jones's documentary, Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015), Truffaut had exclaimed, 'It's often occurred to me that one might make a first-rate comedy on the making of a movie.' The notion came back to him while editing Anne and Muriel (1971) at the Victorine Studios in Nice and he decided to base the film being made on a story he had filed in his press cuttings in the 1960s about a Frenchman whose English bride had run off with her father-in-law.

Marcel Carné had made Les Enfants du Paradis (1945) at Victorine, far away from the gaze of the occupying Nazis further north. While Carné had gone behind the scenes of a theatre company, Truffaut sought to do the same for for a film unit using the same soundstages and backlots. He also later admitted the influence of two 1952 colour masterpieces, Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen's Singin' in the Rain and Jean Renoir's The Golden Coach. Moreover, having been disappointed by the way he had depicted a love of reading in his English-language adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Truffaut wanted to set the record straight by doing justice to his passion for cinema.

A decade had passed since Federico Fellini and Jean-Luc Godard had respectively explored the film-making process in 8 ½ and Le Mépris (both 1963). But Truffaut was keen to avoid the highbrow introspection of these masterpieces and focus on the travails and teamwork involved in making a routine commercial offering like Je vous présente Paméla/Meet Pamela.

While he accepted that the film-within-the-film was a middlebrow melodrama, Truffaut was keen to show that those making it aspired to great art. Consequently, from the opening still of Lilian and Dorothy Gish, who had starred in dozens of films for American pioneer D.W. Griffith, the screenplay is studded with movie anecdotes, as well as references to film titles and the names of iconic actors and directors. Hence, the camera lingering over the covers of the books in Ferrand's parcel, so that Truffaut and his alter ego can express their admiration for Luis Buñuel, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Ingmar Bergman, Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Ernst Lubitsch, Roberto Rossellini, Robert Bresson, and Luchino Visconti. Cinema Paradiso users can show their own appreciation by pasting these names into the Searchline and revisit old favourites or make new discoveries with a single click.

While he was keen to celebrate cinema, Truffaut was still a critic and a New Waver at heart. Thus, he also wanted to remind viewers of the artificiality of the images on the screen and demonstrate how they are achieved. Moreover, he wished to show that film magic was produced through the collaboration of artists and artisans who shared a mutual respect, even though it wasn't always readily evident. Indeed, he would claim that the film had been made in 'the spirit of friendship for all the people in the movie business'.

Such was the complexity of planning Day For Night that Truffaut wrote, filmed, and released A Gorgeous Girl Like Me (1972) between drafting the screenplay and starting to shoot. In piecing their ideas together, Truffaut and co-scenarists Jean-Louis Richard and Suzanne Schiffmann used a long roll of paper to show how scenes would cut between the dramatic scenes from both Day For Night and Meet Pamela and the sequences and montages that focussed solely on the film-making process. This sheet ended up on the wall in Ferrand's office. But, while it remained key to establishing the picture's structure, Truffaut was flexible enough to incorporate sudden inspirations and the suggestions of the cast and crew as the production unfolded.

Ferrand operates in the same way, as Truffaut sought to show that a director is someone 'who's asked questions about everything. Sometimes he knows the answer.' Opting against portraying his second self as a trendy auteur, he makes Ferrand a metteur-en-scène and gives him a hearing aid. This is a legacy of Ferrand's time in the artillery during the war, which chimes in with Truffaut's own unhappy stint in the military, when he had refused to fight in the Algerian War and had been jailed as a deserter. No wonder, he later conceded, 'He really is a lot like me.'

In another example of art imitating life, one of the make-up artists had told Truffaut that French legend Martine Carol had opened a cupboard door while shooting a scene for Bernard Knowles and John Ainsworth's Hell Is Empty (1967), during which she had suffered a fatal heart attack. This sequence also sees Séverine forget her lines and ask to recite numbers rather than dialogue because that's how she works in Italy, where dubbing is preferred to direct sound. She mentions 'Federico', in tribute to Fellini, for whom Cortese had made Juliet of the Spirits back in 1965.

A still from Doctor Zhivago (1965) With Omar Sharif And Geraldine Chaplin
A still from Doctor Zhivago (1965) With Omar Sharif And Geraldine Chaplin

That same year, Julie Christie had graced David Lean's Doctor Zhivago (1965) and was still suffering from the exertion when she reported for Fahrenheit 451. Truffaut based Julie Baker's mental state on Christie's fragility, which was exacerbated by boyfriend Terence Stamp walking out on the fireman role that was taken over by Oskar Werner. The line about chickenpox is typical of Truffaut's penchant for self-reflexity, as Jacqueline Bisset had lost Albert Finney to Audrey Hepburn in Stanley Donen's Two For the Road (1967). Julie is also identified as having been in 'that movie with the car chase', which was a reference to Peter Yates's Bullitt (1968), in which Bisset had co-starred with Steve McQueen.

Alexandre's car crash relates to a tragedy from the previous year when Catherine Deneuve's sister, Françoise Dorléac, was killed in a traffic accident shortly before she was due to make a documentary with Truffaut. She had appeared in The Soft Skin with Jean-Pierre Léaud, whose relationship with Truffaut impinges on the dynamic between Ferrand and Alphonse, as they had been working together since Léaud was a young boy in The 400 Blows. In that film, Antoine Doinel had stolen a still of Harriet Andersson from Ingmar Bergman's Summer With Monika (1955). Here, Ferrand dreams about his younger self taking photos of Citizen Kane. Although the scene with the frisky kitten was based on an incident during the making of The Soft Skin, it also reinforces the Orson Welles connection, as the cat chosen to brush up against Harry Lime's legs in Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949) had also refused to hit its marks and Welles had to have sardine oil applied to his trousers to win the animal's affection.

Truffaut had become estranged from his parents because of their depiction in his 1959 autobiographical classic and he shows how directors risk alienating people close to them in order to make their movies by having Ferrand put words that Julie had confided in the depths of despair into her next speech in Meet Pamela. Scenes were similarly added to Day For Night throughout the shoot, which lasted from September-November 1972. The outdoor action was filmed on the large Parisian set that had been built by MGM for Peter Ustinov's Lady L (1965) and then reused for Bryan Forbes's The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969). However, the production didn't have Victorine to itself, as Jacques Baratier's erotic Nathalie Delon drama, First Time With Feeling (1974), and Herbert Ross's teasing thriller, The Last of Sheila (1973), were also shooting there. The latter in particular is well overdue a UK disc release, as it's a cult gem.

Requiring an international cast to emphasise the fact that Meet Pamela was a co-production, Truffaut resisted casting any American stars, even though Bisset was a Hollywood regular, while Aumont and Cortese had worked there respectively on interesting projects like Sam Wood's Heartbeat (1946) and Walter Reisch's Song of Scheherazade (1947) and Jules Dassin's Thieves' Highway (1949) and Robert Wise's The House on Telegraph Hill (1951). Truffaut had considered Charles Boyer, Louis Jourdan, and Jean Servais before signing Aumont, who had the additional advantage of having been married to one of the director's favourite actresses, Maria Montez.

Truffaut knew Léaud from their previous collaborations, including Anne and Muriel, in which he had co-starred with Stacey Tendetter and Kika Markham, whose father, David, had taken a minor role. Alexandra Stewart had impressed Truffaut while shooting The Bride Wore Black and he had her in mind for the female lead when he was linked with Bonnie and Clyde (1967), which was eventually directed by Arthur Penn with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in the title roles.

Before deciding to play Ferrand himself, Truffaut had toyed with the idea of casting another face from his past, Jean-Claude Brialy. However, both Nathalie Baye and Danièle Graule (aka Dani) were newcomers, with Schiffmann spotting the former on the street and thinking her ideal to play Joëlle (whom she had based on herself), while Truffaut saw Dani collecting her son from the nursery near the Paris office of his production company, Les Films du Carosse. The choice of novelist Graham Greene to play the insurance agent was sprung on Truffaut as a joke by Nike Arrighi. Greene lived nearby and was persuaded to test for the role under the name of Henry Graham. The director admired his work, but didn't recognise him until the day of the shoot, when he played along with the ruse and even had Schiffmann trick Greene into thinking that he was furious at the deception.

Such was the spirit of improvisation that it's almost surprising that this episode wasn't reworked for the film. But Truffaut had already plumped for a number of casting in-jokes, with composer Georges Delerue being heard submitting a piece of music over the phone, while assistant director Jean-François Stévenin played Ferrand's resourceful factotum. Indeed, it's his blue car that is used for the car crash scene because the director didn't like the white one the props department had found. Even editors Yann Dedet and Martine Barraquè make cameos when not compiling the movie-making montages that enliven the behind-the-scenes segments, as they show how intricately everything fits together to make a shoot successful.

Truffaut sustained morale during production by hosting weekend film screenings and the odd all-night party. Following one of Cortese's soirées, cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn was injured in a motorbike accident. But he insisted on reporting for work because, in spite of backing from Warner Bros, Truffaut had been forced to cut a week from the schedule after some promised finance had fallen through. This detail was worked into the script, as was the fact that the director kept scenes short because he often rewrote them just before they were filmed and didn't want to task the actors with having to learn screeds of new dialogue.

A still from The Story of Adele H. (1975)
A still from The Story of Adele H. (1975)

As Truffaut worked instinctively and quickly and rarely needed more than two takes for a scene, the lost time never became a factor. However, he did linger over the two scenes in the Parisian square (one of which required gallons of fake snow), as he not only had to organise his actors and 200 extras, but also his own crew and the one shooting Meet Pamela. It's little wonder that he took an extended sabbatical before embarking upon his next feature, The Story of Adèle H. (1975).

24 Frames Per Second?

Speaking to a reporter from Le Monde, Truffaut divulged his motives for making Day For Night. 'My idea was not to tell the whole truth about the cinema,' he explained, 'but to say only things that are true. To recount that formidable mobilisation that shooting a film involves, that input of feeling that can mess up the private lives of those who take part in a film. For each of us, at that particular moment, it is a privileged period having nothing to do with practical worries, an escape.'

Jean-Luc Godard had once famously claimed that cinema was 'truth at 24 frames per second'. Truffaut had, however, revealed it to be a series of illusions passing themselves off as reality. Yet, despite showing the façade to be as fake as the flats exposed in the final aerial shot of Victorine Studios, the film also invited audiences to share in the mystical mix of artistry, chance, and hard graft that transforms chaos into enchantment.

It was perhaps asking too much for Godard to enjoy the picture. But he made a show of storming out in disgust during the out of competition premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on 14 May 1973. Moreover, he sent Truffaut a letter in which he accused him of being a 'liar' for both misrepresenting the way in which films were made and for keeping Ferrand aloof from the bed-hopping at the Atlantic Hotel. As the rant went on, Godard suggested that Truffaut was no longer an innovator and had joined the likes of Jean Delannoy, Henri Verneuil, and Claude Lelouch in becoming someone who made 'film-trains' that trundled on to the screen.

Having complained that big-budget items like Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (1972) and Marco Ferreri's La Grande bouffe (1973) were gobbling up French cinema's limited sources of revenue, Godard asked Truffaut to invest in his next project, as he was having trouble raising the finance. He even offered to sign over the rights to Masculin-Féminin (1966) and La Chinoise (1967) if Truffaut wanted to divert some of the inevitable profits from Day For Night. Closing with an invitation to meet and discuss terms, the missive was delivered together with a note to be passed on to Jean-Pierre Léaud.

This impudence infuriated Truffaut as much as the criticism and the request for cash. But he started his 20-page reply with the words: 'Jean-Luc. So you won't be obliged to read this unpleasant letter right to the end, I'm starting with the essential point: I will not co-produce your film.' He then proceeded to reprimand Godard for his treatment of Jane Fonda on the set of Tout va bien and suggest that he stopped wasting his time watching films that he knew in advance would annoy him. As Emmanuel Laurent chronicles in Two in the Wave (2010), this would be Truffaut's last dealing with his erstwhile friend, even though Godard made several attempts to patch things up.

At the heart of the dispute was Truffaut's resentment at press criticisms that he had sold out by abandoning his nouvelle vague principles to make mainstream movies. This is key to understanding the contradiction between the artistic impulses epitomised by the academic books in Ferrand's parcel and the melodramatic mundanity of Meet Pamela. Ferrand knows it's modest fare, but such is his love of cinema that he would much rather be trying to make it better than sitting at home fulminating about the iniquities of a capitalist industry.

In fact, Day For Night is more subversive than it outwardly appears, as Schiffmann's contribution to the screenplay prompted Truffaut to take a more enlightened approach to gender politics. Alphonse, Dr Nelson, and Alexandre exhibit very different aspects of masculinity, with the latter being discreetly bisexual. None of the three could be described as hero material, however, and the same goes for Ferrand. By contrast, the female characters are more rounded, with Séverine and Julie combining intelligence and fragility, while Joëlle, Odile, and Dani are all modern, free-spirited women, who are not afraid to speak their minds and take what they want from a relationship.

Cortese was named Best Supporting Actress by the National Society of Film Critics, while Truffaut received the award for Best Director. They would repeat this double at the BAFTAs and each would receive Oscar nominations, with Truffaut also being cited with Richard and Schiffmann for Best Original Screenplay. When Ingrid Bergman collected her statuette for Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express (1974), she acknowledged Madeline Kahn ( Blazing Saddles ), Diane Ladd ( Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore ), and Talia Shire ( The Godfather, Part II ), but singled out Cortese for special praise. 'She gave the most beautiful performance that all we actresses recognise because, after all, we have all forgotten our lines and always opened the wrong doors, and it was wonderful to see her do it so beautifully. Therefore, I am…it's so ironic that this year she's nominated when the picture won last year...I don't quite understand that, but here I am, and I'm her rival, and I don't like it at all. Please forgive me, Valentina. I didn't mean to.'

A still from Turkish Delight (1973)
A still from Turkish Delight (1973)

Bergman was referring to the fact that Academy rules didn't require the contenders in the Best Foreign Language Film category to have been shown in the United States to become eligible for nomination. Consequently, Day For Night could be resubmitted after winning the Oscar in 1974. It wasn't up against particularly strong competition. Indeed, of Moshé Mizrahi's The House on Chelouche Street, Claude Goretta's L'Invitation, Maximilian Schell's The Pedestrian, and Paul Verhoeven's Turkish Delight, only the latter is currently available on disc in the UK and, of course, it can be rented from Cinema Paradiso.

Despite the positive reviews, the film under-performed at the French box office, as a PR campaign gave people the impression Day For Night was a documentary rather than a satire. Some of Truffaut's peers were also unhappy with Meet Pamela, as they reckoned the onetime firebrand critic who had averred that there could never be a 'peaceful co-existence of le cinéma du qualité and le cinéma d'auteurs' was mocking the kind of middle-of-the-road crowd-pleasers they often found themselves making. In fact, Truffaut was acknowledging that he had 'a nostalgia for films that are not afraid to tell a story and that have no qualms about being melodramatic'. Moreover, he would feel no shame at being a director like Ferrand and made a point in his Oscar acceptance speech of insisting that he had tried to celebrate what everyone in the room did for a living. He concluded, therefore, that the award was for show people everywhere, but he hoped that no one would mind if he looked after it.

For more information about how cinema has depicted film-making and for dozens of viewing suggestions, see Cinema Paradiso's two-part 'Brief History of Films About Film' Part 1 and Part 2.

A still from Blazing Saddles: 30th Anniversary Special Edition (1974)
A still from Blazing Saddles: 30th Anniversary Special Edition (1974)
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