Shoot The Piano Player by stdepue

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									"Shoot the Pianist," (1960), a black and white drama/thriller/romance/crime picture was
only the second film made by the now near legendary French screenwriter/director,
Francois Truffaut. (The Francois Truffaut Collection - 6 Disc Box Set (Exclusive to
Amazon.co.uk) [DVD] [1959]). He made it, as it happens, after his initial
masterwork,400 Blows (Les 400 Coups) [1959] [DVD]; so that it was looked at a little
quizzically at the time of release: however, now that 50 years have passed, I think most
film critics would say that, though it is not in the class of "400 Blows," it is still a notable
achievement in French cinema.

The film, another of Truffaut's odd little melodramas, was written and directed by
Truffaut, based on the American David Goodis's novel "Down There,"Black Box
Thrillers: Nightfall; Down There; Dark Passage; The Moon In The Gutter (Omnibus).
Many critics have noted the apparent influence of the famed Anglo-American director
Alfred Hitchcock's great film Vertigo [DVD] upon it. "Shoot" gives us early uses of
improvisation, and voice-overs; and a lovely score by Georges Delerue. The well-known
French singer/songwriter Charles Aznavour (20 Chansons D'or) stars, playing Edward
Saroyan, famous concert pianist, who, in reaction to reverses in his life, takes the name
Charlie Kohler, and plays barroom piano. Seems to me that, in consideration of
Aznavour's relatively inexpressive face, Truffaut has taken care always to provide the
singer with experienced French actors to play off, principally Marie Dubois (Jules et Jim
[DVD] [1962] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]) as Lena, the barmaid who loves him;
Albert Remy (The Train [DVD] [1964] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]) as his brother
Chico, and Claude Heymann (Lola Montes [Blu-ray] [1955] [US Import]) as the
impresario Lars Schmeel. There's a scene in this movie that's studied in every film
school: the long tracking shot of a woman violinist leaving the impresario's office as
Saroyan begins to play. Truffaut used the threatening snow-bound cottage at the end
again, to less tragic effect, in Mississippi Mermaid [DVD] [1969].

The greatest movie ever made it is not, but if you're interested in French cinema, or the
finest directors of the 20th century, it's worth seeing.

								
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