Shoot the Pianist

UNRATED, 92 m., 1960

Charles Aznavour …
Charlie Kohler / Edouard Saroyan
Marie Dubois Marie Dubois …
Léna
Nicole Berger Nicole Berger …
Thérèse Saroyan
Michèle Mercier Michèle Mercier …
Clarisse
Serge Davri Serge Davri …
Plyne
Claude Mansard Claude Mansard …
Momo
Richard Kanayan Richard Kanayan …
Fido Saroyan (as Le jeune Richard Kanayan)
Albert Rémy Albert Rémy …
Chico Saroyan
Jean-Jacques Aslanian Jean-Jacques Aslanian …
Richard Saroyan
Daniel Boulanger Daniel Boulanger …
Ernest
Claude Heymann Claude Heymann …
Lars Schmeel
Alex Joffé Alex Joffé …
Passerby
Boby Lapointe Boby Lapointe …
Le chanteur
Catherine Lutz Catherine Lutz …
Mammy). Directed by François Truffaut and produced by Pierre Braunberger. Screenplay by David Goodis … (novel “Down There”)

François Truffaut … (adaptation) (as F. Truffaut) and
Marcel Moussy … (adaptation)

François Truffaut … (dialogue)

Francois Truffaut’s Shoot the Pianist is an amusing, stylistically inventive, and entertaining film – an homage to the gangster genre, a romance and a musically-driven comedy all in one.

The plot: Charlie Kohler (Charles Aznavour) is a sadsack pianist at a jazz club when his troublesome brother comes into the mix. He’s on the run from gangsters who want to extract money or kill him – which ever comes first; there’s also a sweet young dame (Marie Dubois) in the picture.

This is Truffaut’s sophomore effort, following the realistic childhood story The 400 Blows, is “drunk on the possibilities of pure cinema,” it’s been said, and so it is. Playing with cinematic conventions, a fluid Cinemascope camera, and even tricks of editing (“May my mother drop dead if I’m lying!”), Truffaut has all sorts of cards up his sleeves, and uses every single one.

The film, adapted from the novel Down There by David Goodis, is sometimes suspenseful, often funny, and ultimately moving. After the semi-autobiographical coming of age/slice of life 400 Blows, Truffaut dips his toes in the waters of film noir and romantic comedy and finds cinematic gold.

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