Happy Birthday, JD

The mighty Charles Drazin, kindly overlooking my mild criticism of his marvellous book In Search of the Third Man (DO buy it), dropped me a line to point out that Julien Duvivier is 112 today, or would be if he was alive. I should really have got my act together and written something on LA FIN DU JOUR to coincide with this anniversary, but I didn’t. This will have to do until I get things sorted.

Jean-Pierre Leaud with Julien Duvivier during the making of BOULEVARD (which seems to be impossible to see, damnit). Although Truffaut and his crowd disparaged many of Duvivier’s generation, that didn’t stop FT’s young star collaborating with JD for his second leading role. In fact, arguably Duvivier’s beautiful POIL DE CAROTTE prefigures the concerns of Truffaut and Leaud’s LES QUATRE CENTS COUPS.

Photo via If Charlie Parker was a Gunslinger, There’d be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats.

I actually still want to give away more copies of LA FIN DU JOUR, for some crazy reason, so if anybody can think of a way of publicising THE GREAT DUVIVIER GIVEAWAY some more, make a suggestion, or just get out and promote it.

17 Responses to “Happy Birthday, JD”

  1. I’m not surprised Leaud appeared in ‘Boulevard’. It was, after all, 1960; and by then the ‘Nouvelle vague’ hand had been played, and played with wild success. The game for Truffaut now was no longer one of disparaging the Tradition of Quality but actively promoting the particular New Wave he (not coincidentally) was in the vanguard of. To the extent that Truffaut had anything to say about the matter in the first place, there was no longer any conflict of interest involved in Leaud’s working the other side of the street. It’s a guess on my part, but I doubt if he cared at all, one way or the other.

  2. Sure, and Truffaut didn’t “own” Leaud. Although he may have felt a little possessive, but that’s a guess.

    FT did become more generous to the old guard after becoming a successful filmmaker himself, famously praising Les Enfants du Paradis as being worth all his own films put together. Which is not quite true, but nice of him to say.

  3. Leaud also appeared in Cocteau’s Le Testament d’Orphee at this time.

    The Mother and the Whore and Out 1 are eons away.

  4. Actually Truffaut was quite friendly with Duvivier at that time and I would not be surprised if he encouraged Leaud to go ahead and work with him. Truffaut once told Duvivier when the latter wondered if his career had been good and Truffaut told him that he made some of the most interesting of films made in his day and that he lived long and made many films which itself was a great achievement.

    I believe Truffaut produced Cocteau’s last film.

  5. I hadn’t heard about Truffaut’s role as producer… I know he encouraged Clouzot to make another film, resulting in the astonishing La Prisonniere.

    More on that one during Sexy Week (gotta think of a better name for it!)

  6. The IMDb confirms that Truffaut did indeed assist in the production of Le Testament D’Orphee. Cahiers was generally pretty keen on Cocteau, as I recall.

  7. Truffaut after the success of ”Les 400 Coups” became a kind of producer/impressario for a small period of time. He was able to use his clout to help get Rivette’s ”Paris Belongs To Us” a release in 1961 and did his bit to help around, but eventually he gave that up because he didn’t think he could do justice to both. Truffaut was nevertheless quite encouraging to fellow film-makers. He helped Rohmer get financing for ”Ma Nuit Chez Maud” and then allowed his name to be attached to Pialat’s ”L’Enfance Nue” so that it could get a better commercial chance. He famously offered to buy ”The Fireman’s Ball” after the Communist bosses at Czechoslavakia tried to suppress it.

    Not unlike Scorsese today I guess.

  8. Oh, he also loaned his car so that Milos Forman could be smuggled out of Czechoslovakia in 68.

    It was to be a non-stop drive, so one of Forman’s accomplices decided to urinate out the car window. Then a Russian tank rounded a corner, and worried that his innocent micturation might be seen as a political act, the fellow hastily retracted himself back into the car, soaking the upholstery and making the rest of the trip more than oridinarily unpleasant.

  9. It’s like something in Truffaut’s films. I wonder what his reaction was – “I saved your film, loant you my car and you pay be back by peeing in it.” Truffaut being mild mannered and not prone to outbursts would probably find it funny.

    Bob Balaban loves to tell the fact that after he got cast in Close Encounters he was trying to avoid Spielberg because he really didn’t know French all that well and he was playing an interpreter. Truffaut found it pretty funny(probably regretted not getting that gag in ”La Nuit Americaine”). Truffaut had a big anarchic side, as any fan of Jean Vigo does.

  10. Apparently Truffaut was a kind of royalist, who admired Mitterand because he looked like a king, according to Chabrol. But his heroic behaviour during L’affaire Langlois attests to his anarchist side also.

  11. Here’s the rub….he never voted for Mitterand. But he did give speeches supporting him. His own daughter voted and she was pretty angry at her dad for not doing the same. Truffaut also campaigned a lot on personal causes like he was very interested in children’s rights and was keen that stray kids who don’t have parents get some protection from the state. His masterpiece, ”L’Enfant Sauvage” actually had an impact on people in that direction.

    I don’t think Truffaut fits conventional right-left standpoints, neither does Godard either, I think he was very liberal by nature but not necessarily a joiner. He was also a fairly lonely person by nature and Nestor Almendros said that Truffaut was always happiest making movies and outside film-making he was pretty sad and the like.

  12. Mind you, when he wasn’t making movies (and even when he was) he was, according to Chabrol, “an insatiable womaniser…INSATIABLE!” So how sad could he be? Pretty sad, I guess, but Fanny Ardant, Catherine Deneuve etc must have been some consolation.

    Truffaut’s grave is always smothered with flowers.

  13. Except Catherine Deneuve left him and gave him a nervous breakdown. I don’t see how being a womanizer means that you can’t be lonely. To the contrary in fact.

    I once placed flowers there myself. Very much a respected figure.

  14. I hope you didn’t leave Mr & Mrs Clouzot’s grave without a little tribute? It’s right around the corner.

  15. Oh…

    Well good excuse to go back to the Cimitiere Montmartre.

  16. “I don’t see how being a womanizer means that you can’t be lonely. To the contrary in fact.”

    Isn’t that partly the premise of The Man Who Loved Women?

  17. I think I posted a shot of Clouzot’s grave here, somewhere.

    Yes, The Man Who is certainly one of Truffaut’s most autobiographical films.

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