Shoot The Piano Player

Shoot The Piano Player

5.0 1
Director: François Truffaut

Cast: Charles Aznavour, Nicole Berger, Marie Dubois

     
 

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Francois Truffaut's loving homage to Hollywood gangster films is less a plot-filled film noir than a free-associative meditation on the genre. Charles Aznavour stars as a one-time concert pianist who gained fame as Edouard Saroyan but has since changed his name to Charlie Kohler and plays honky-tonk in an out-of-the-way saloon. His self-imposed exile is shattered by… See more details below

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Overview

Francois Truffaut's loving homage to Hollywood gangster films is less a plot-filled film noir than a free-associative meditation on the genre. Charles Aznavour stars as a one-time concert pianist who gained fame as Edouard Saroyan but has since changed his name to Charlie Kohler and plays honky-tonk in an out-of-the-way saloon. His self-imposed exile is shattered by the appearance of his mobster brother Richard Saroyan (Jacques Aslanian). Richard and his other brother, Chico (Albert Remy), are on the lam from gangsters they've double-crossed. Charlie helps Richard and Chico get away, but he now finds that his life, along with his younger brother Fido's (Richard Kanayan, has been put into jeopardy, having gotten mixed up with gangsters Momo (Claude Mansard) and Ernest (Daniel Boulanger) who are pursuing Richard and Chico. Momo and Ernest keep an eye on Charlie's apartment and, although they don't get Fido, they manage to kidnap Charlie and Lena (Marie Dubois), a co-worker with whom he has fallen in love. But when Ernest runs a red light and is pulled over, Charlie and Lena escape the gangsters' clutches. They take refuge in Lena's apartment, where Charlie sees a poster for a performance by Edouard Saroyan, causing Charlie to think back upon the circumstances that had led him to this moment in his life. Lena and Charlie make love, and Charlie returns to his apartment, only to discover Fido has been kidnapped. Lena and Charlie then head back to his club, where they plan to quit their jobs and try to find Fido.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Shoot the Piano Player may be fluffier than the two better-known François Truffaut masterpieces that surrounded it (The 400 Blows (1959) and Jules and Jim (1962)), but it probably captures the essence of the French New Wave -- particularly its obsession with American B-movies -- as well as any film from the movement. The fastest and funniest of the New Wave classics, it veers wildly in tone, boldly mixing elements of several American genres -- including film noir (it's based on prominent pulp author David Goodis' pseudonymous novel Down There), slapstick comedy, and the musical -- with Truffaut's distinctive melancholy realism. Appropriately, Truffaut's style matches his scrambled content; this is probably his most experimental film, making expressive use of a variety of cinematic devices (hand-held shots, jump cuts, split screens, location shooting), giving the film an exhilaratingly loose feel. What little storyline exists is dominated by eccentric digressions and false leads; in fact, a major part of the film's charm is that it sometimes feels as if Truffaut is making up the story as he goes along. It might not have held together had legendary singer/songwriter Charles Aznavour not turned in a brilliantly subtle lead performance as the lovable pianist Charlie. Aznavour keeps the film grounded, enabling Truffaut to pull off a quietly shattering ending.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/06/2005
UPC:
0037429212721
Original Release:
1960
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
Time:
1:21:00
Sales rank:
460

Special Features

New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Raoul Coutard; Audio commentary by film scholars Annette Insdorf and Peter Brunette; Exclusive new video interviews with actors Charles Aznavour and Marie Dubois; Video interview with Coutard, conducted in 2003. Rare interview with Francois Truffaut collaborator Suzanne Schiffman, from 1986. Excerpts from a 1965 episode of the French television program Cineastes de notre temps dedicated to Truffaut; An excerpt from the French television program Etoiles et toiles in which Truffaut discusses his adaptation of the David Goodis novel. "The Music of George Delerue," an illustrated essay. Dubois' screen test for the film. Theatrical trailer; New and improved English subtitle translation. A new essay by film critic Kent Jones.

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Charles Aznavour Edouard Saroyan/Charlie Kohler
Nicole Berger Theresa
Marie Dubois Lena
Michele Mercier Clarisse
Albert Remy Chico Saroyan
Claude Mansard Momo
Bobby Lapointe Singer
Daniel Boulanger Ernest
Serge Davri Plyne
Claude Heymann Lars Schmeel
Alex Joffe Passerby
Richard Kanayan Fido Saroyan
Catherine Lutz Mammy
Alice Sapritch Concierge
Jean-Jacques Aslanian Richard Saroyan

Technical Credits
François Truffaut Director,Screenwriter
Claudine Bouché Editor
Pierre Braunberger Producer
Raoul Coutard Cinematographer
Cecile Decugis Editor
Georges Delerue Score Composer
Bobby Lapointe Songwriter
Felix Leclerc Songwriter
Jacques Mely Art Director
Marcel Moussy Screenwriter
Lucienne Vernay Songwriter

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Shoot the Piano Player: The Film
1. Credits [1:43]
2. A Chance Encounter [3:11]
3. Brothers Reunited [5:20]
4. "Framboise!" [2:43]
5. "I'm Scared"/Walking Home [4:38]
6. Clarisse [4:04]
7. Ernest and Momo [8:22]
8. Edouard and Thérésa [3:46]
9. Lars Schmeel [2:34]
10. Argument [2:15]
11. Shyness [2:52]
12. A Tragic Confession [4:29]
13. Edouard's Story [3:32]
14. A Team [2:47]
15. Kidnapped [2:06]
16. "Someone Must Win" [6:43]
17. Fido and the Gangsters [2:23]
18. Farewell [5:40]
19. Back Home [5:34]
20. Good News [2:50]
21. Gunfight [2:49]
22. Charlie and the Piano Player [1:13]
1. Gentle Self-Consciousness [1:43]
2. Postmodern Before the Word [3:11]
3. "A Respectful Pastiche"/Doubling [5:20]
4. Boby Lapointe [2:43]
5. Fragmentation/Voice-Over [4:38]
6. American Influence/Shyness [4:04]
7. Frustrated Males/Mixture of Tones [8:22]
8. Delerue/Heymann/Berger [3:46]
9. Woman With a Violin [2:34]
10. Mirrors [2:15]
11. Identity/Father Figures [2:52]
12. Backlash/The Real Self [4:29]
13. Motion and Emotion [3:32]
14. A Man Who Loved Women [2:47]
15. Two Views of Love [2:06]
16. Detachment/Auteurism [6:43]
17. The Tradition of Quality [2:23]
18. Unpredictability [5:40]
19. Circular Structure/Plot [5:34]
20. A Lean Film That Takes Its Time [2:50]
21. Influence [2:49]
22. Life's Possibilities Exhausted [1:13]

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