Craig Keller nominated this way back and it’s taken me and age to watch the film and then get the scene up on VousTube. Nice film, nice scene, Craig!
[Oh, the subtitles didn’t load, so you can (a) learn French before watching it, which will probably be useful in later life, or (b) watch it without understanding all the dialogue, which will, I promise, STILL be a sweet and blissful experience.]
Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel project is one of cinema’s most intriguing undertakings — a study of a fictional character from childhood on through life, like THE TRUMAN SHOW brought half a step closer to reality. One can’t help wonder what additional Doinel stories Truffaut would be telling now had he lived. Of course it’s inconceivable for anybody else to pick up the baton and continue the character’s adventures: that’s why France is not America and Antoine Doinel is not Inspector Clouseau.
As the series progresses, one can’t help but notice a certain loss of cohesion: Doinel began, in childhood, as a Truffaut-substitute, “the author in disguise” to use Alan Bennett’s charming phrase, but as fictional and real life went on, they diverged: once it became clear that Doinel was not going to become a celebrated film director, large areas of Truffaut’s life were excluded from the films. In a way, LA NUIT AMERICAIN / DAY FOR NIGHT is more of a direct sequel to the first Doinel film, LES 400 COUPS than any of the later Doinel films: here, the character has split in two, one half growing up to be the film director played by Truffaut himself (seen in flashback as a kid committing a very Doinellian petty crime), the other has become leading man Jean-Pierre Leaud, the actor who personifies Doinel in all the films.
Anyhow, one consequence of the divergence between auteur and creation is that the films immediately get lighter. The Doinel episode of LOVE AT TWENTY (and is there any chance of somebody releasing the rest of this fascinating-sounding compendium film?) lacks the tragic undertones of LES 400 COUPS, and BAISERS VOLES, the first feature length sequel, is basically an amiably disjointed comedy. As such, it’s delightful, and I could nominate a few other scenes for Cinema Euphoria status — the mini-documentary about the pneumatic tubes beneath Paris (Wow!) and Delphine Seyrig’s moving proposition to Doinel, for instance. Michel Lonsdale’s first scene doesn’t quite qualify, perhaps, but it’s uproariously funny in its cockeyed peculiarity. Lonsdale for president!
Thanks to Craig for recommending this one, I had fun re-seeing the movie, having forgotten many of its quirks and twists. It’s encouraged me to have another look at some of the later films in the A.D. cycle too.