TLW's French Cinemascope™) (French Cinema Historyscope)
By T.L. Winslow (TLW), the Historyscoper™
© Copyright by T.L. Winslow. All Rights Reserved.
Original Pub. Date: Nov. 19, 2016. Last Update: May 20, 2017.
Westerners are not only known as history ignoramuses, but double dumbass history ignoramuses when it comes to French cinema history. Since I'm the one-and-only Historyscoper (tm), let me quickly bring you up to speed before you dive into my Master Historyscope.
On Sept. 28, 1896 Pathe Freres (Pathé Frères) film studio is founded in France by the Pathe Brothers Charles, Emile, Theophile, and Jacques, becoming the world's largest film equipment and production co. by the early 1900s; in 1908 they invent the newsreel.
In 1896 Alice Guy (Guy-Blache) (Guy-Blaché) (1873-1968) becomes the first film dir., working for the French production co. of Leon Gaumont (1864-1946) to film The Cabbage Fairy (La Fee aux Choux).
On May 2, 1934 Jacques Feyder's B&W Le Grand Jeu (Pathe-Natan) debuts, starring Marie Bell as honky-tonk temptress Irma, who reminds hero Pierre Martel (Pierre Richard-Willm) of the Parisian babe Florence (Marie Bell) he ran away to the French Foreign Legion for; "Alors... je te fais le grnd jeu?"
On Jan. 28, 1937 Julien Duvivier's Pepe (Pépé) Le Moko debuts, based on the novel by Henri La Barthe about a gangster from Marseilles who hides in the Casbah of Algiers, making a star of Jean Gabin (1904-76), spawning multiple Casbah movies.
On June 8, 1937 Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion debuts, co-written by Charles Spaak, an anti-war film about two captured French officers in WWI, Lt. Marechal (Jean Gabin) and Capt. de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay), whose optimism is not yet shaken by WWII; a big hit in France and the U.S., with Orson Welles calling it one of the two movies he would take with him "on the Ark".
In Apr. 1951 Cahiers du Cinema (Cinéma) (Notebooks on Cinema) begins pub. in Paris, France by Andre Bazin (1918-58), Jacques Doniol-Valcroze (1920-89), Joseph-Marie Lo Duca (1905-2004)< et al., going on to reinvent the basic tenets of film theory and criticism, becoming the oldest film mag. to survive to modern times.
In 1954 Paris-born French film critic Francois Roland Truffaut (1932-84), known as "the Gravedigger of French Cinema" for his brutual reviews pub. the essay A Certain Tendency of French Cinema (Une Certaine Tendance du Cinema Francais), introducing his Auteur Theory, claiming that a great dir. (auteur) rises about the inferior metteur en scene (scene-setter) dir., and is the true author of a film, citing his hero Alfred Hitchcock and his unique style; it doesn't catch on until the 1960s; meanwhile Truffaut decides to show everybody by becoming a dir. himself.
On Jan. 28, 1958 Louis Malle's Ascenseur pour L'Echafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) debuts, becoming the dir. debut of Louis Malle (1932-95) makes an internat. star of Jeanne Moreau (1928-), "the new Bardot", and features a score by Miles Davis.
On Sept. 30, 1958 Louis Malle's Les Amants (The Lovers) debuts, an adultery flick based on the novel "Point de Lendemain" by Dominique Vivant, starring Jeanne Moreau as Jeanne Tournier results in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court obscenity case "Jacobellis v. Ohio".
In 1958 Pierre Gaspard-Huit's Christine debuts, based on the novel "Liebelei" by Arthur Schnitzler, starring Romy Schneider and her partner (1958-63) Alain Delon.
On May 4, 1959 Francois Truffaut's The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups) debuts (Truffaud's dir. debut), starring Jean-Pierre Leaud (Léaud) (1944-) as 12-y.-o. schoolboy Antoine Daniel, who delves into petty crime and experiences the unjust French juvenile delinquent system, becoming the first of Truffaut's autobio. Antoine Doinel series, introducing the New Wave (Nouvelle Vogue) movement in French cinema, rejecting the classical cinematic form to emphasize relationships and humane stories.
On Mar. 17, 1960 Jean-Luc Godard's B&W Breathless (A Bout de Souffle) (Out of Breath) debuts, becoming the first feature film of Paris-born dir. Jean-Luc Godard (1930-), catapulting him to the vanguard of French filmmakers, and is the acting debut of Jean-Paul Belmondo (1933-) as itinerant criminal Michel Poiccard; also stars Jean Seberg as his bbe Patricia Franchini; "All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun" (Godard); "There is the cinema before Godard and the cinema after Godard" (Francois Truffaut).
On Feb. 9, 1961 Valerio Zurlini's Girl with a Suitcase (La Razazza con la Valigia) debuts, starring Claudia Cardinale as showgirl Aida Zepponi, who lives on the goodwill of others, and runs to the younger brother of her ex-lover, 16-y.-o. rich kid Lorenzo Fainardi (Jacques Perrin), becoming his lover while the family goes nuts, finally parting with a new lover, after which he tries to make things right by giving her some farewell money.
On Jan. 23, 1962 Francois Truffaut's Jules and Jim debuts, based on the 1953 novel by Henri-Pierre Roche, starring Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, and Henri Serre in a WWI love triangle; Stephen Hawking's favorite movie; watch trailer.
On Dec. 29, 1967 Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend (Week-end) debuts, a surreal carnage film based on his mother's fatal 1954 auto accident, starring Mireille Darc and Jean Yanne as bourgeois couple Corinne and Roland, who witness highway wrecks while traveling through the French countryside to get her inheritance from her dying father, only to be stiffed and get captured by the hippie Seine and Oise Liberation Front, who kill and eat them; Godard gets in a serious motorcycle accident in 1975.
On Mar. 22, 1968 Claude Chabrol's Les Biches (The Does) debuts, starring Stephane Audran and Jacqueline Sassard as tortured lesbians Frederique and Why, who go to Frederique's villa in Saint Tropez for the winner, inhabited by an odd gay couple.
On Apr. 3, 1976 the Cesar (César) Award for French film, named after scrap metal sculptor Cesar (César) Baldaccini (1921-98) is first awarded by the Academie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema in the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, becoming the main nat. award for French film; the trophies are his sculptures; in ? the awards ceremony is moved to Feb.
On Jan. 24, 1979 Jeanne Moreau's L'Adolescente debuts, starring Laetitia Chauveau as 13-y.-o. nymphet Marie, and Simone Signoret as her mother, who watches her sexual awakening with a local doctor.
On Apr. 6, 1983 Diane Kurys' Entre Nous (Between Us) (AKA Coup de Foudre or Love At First Sight) (Gaumont) debuts, starring Isabelle Huppert as Lena, and Guy Marchand as Michel, who helps her escape from a French POW camp by marrying her, despite both being Jewish; they end up running a garage in Lyon, where Lena meets Madeleine (Miou-Miou), wife of black marketeer Costa (Jean-Pierre Bacri), hooking up and going into a Boston marriage with their own dress shop in Paris.
On Feb. 8, 2007 Olivier Dahan's La Vie en Rose (La Mome) debuts, starring first-time actress Marion Cotillard (1975-) as "Little Sparrow" Edith Piaf (1916-63), who dies an early death from alcohol, morphine, and cancer in a typical weepy French talking heads movie; does $86.3M box office on a $25M budget; Piaf becomes the first to win a best actress Oscar for a French-language role.
On May 24, 2008 Laurent Cantet's Entre les Murs (Between the Walls) (The Class) debuts, based on the 2006 novel by Francois Begaudeau, starring himself as a teacher in Paris dealing with racially-mixed students; first French film to win the Palm de'Or since 1987 ("Under the Sun of Satan"); does $28.7M box office on a 2.5M Euro budget.
On Sept. 4, 2010 Francois Ozon's Potiche (Fr. "trophy wife") debuts, a French feminist farce set in 1977, starring Catherine Deneuve as submissive wife Suzanne Pujol, who gets to run her hubby Robert (Fabrice Luchini)'s umbrella factory after the employees rebel against tyrannical mgr. Maurice Babin (Gerard Depardieu); Jeremie Renier plays son Laurent Pujol; does $28.8M box office on a $11.2M budget.
On May 17, 2012 Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone (De rouille et d'os) (Canal+) debuts, based on the short stories by Craig Davidson, starring Marion Cotillard as Stephanie, a killer whale trainer who falls for unemployed 20-something wannabe-kick boxer Alain "Ali" van Versch (Matthias Schoenaerts) in Antibes and loses her legs in an accident; does $25.8M box office on a $20M budget.
On May 21, 2016 Paul Verhoeven's Elle (France 2 Cinema) debuts, based on the 2012 Philippe Djian novel "Oh...", starring Isabelele Huppert as businesswoman Michele Leblance, who is raped in her home by an unknown rapist and plots revenge, discovering it's her next-door neighbor Patrick (Laurent Lafitte); does $10.2M box office on a $9.1M budget.