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The 400 Blows (1959)
"Les quatre cents coups" (original title)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  16 November 1959 (USA)
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 50,533 users  
Reviews: 159 user | 146 critic

Intensely touching story of a misunderstood young adolescent who left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.

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(scenario), (adaptation), 2 more credits »
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Title: The 400 Blows (1959)

The 400 Blows (1959) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Top 250 #187 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Claire Maurier ...
Gilberte Doinel - la mère d'Antoine
Albert Rémy ...
Julien Doinel
Guy Decomble ...
'Petite Feuille', the French teacher
Georges Flamant ...
Mr. Bigey
Patrick Auffay ...
René
Daniel Couturier ...
Betrand Mauricet
François Nocher ...
Un enfant / Child
Richard Kanayan ...
Un enfant / Child
Renaud Fontanarosa ...
Un enfant / Child
Michel Girard ...
Un enfant / Child
Serge Moati ...
Un enfant / Child (as Henry Moati)
Bernard Abbou ...
Un enfant / Child
Jean-François Bergouignan ...
Un enfant / Child
Michel Lesignor ...
Un enfant / Child
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Storyline

A young Parisian boy, Antoine Doinel, neglected by his derelict parents, skips school, sneaks into movies, runs away from home, steals things, and tries (disastrously) to return them. Like most kids, he gets into more trouble for things he thinks are right than for his actual trespasses. Unlike most kids, he gets whacked with the big stick. He inhabits a Paris of dingy flats, seedy arcades, abandoned factories, and workaday streets, a city that seems big and full of possibilities only to a child's eye. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Angel faces hell-bent for violence. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

16 November 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The 400 Blows  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Antoine's father finally nodded to the cinema business, realizing it is Rivette's "Paris nous appartient", he said: "Si c'est un complot..." And a 'complot' (conspiracy), really, is the central issue of the Rivette's film. See more »

Goofs

About after one hour of the movie, when the two boys run in the Sacre Coeur's stairs where they mock a priest, René's jacket changed. It's now longer and black. And just after when they come back to his house, he is wearing again the first jacket. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Petite Feuille: Doinel, bring me that. Indeed! Go to the corner!
See more »

Connections

Followed by Bed & Board (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

La machine à ecrire
Composed by Jean Constantin
See more »

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User Reviews

Truffaut's powerful and moving look at adolescence
18 November 2006 | by (The Dutch Mountains) – See all my reviews

THE FOUR HUNDRED BLOWS (François Truffaut - France 1959).

Twelve-year-old Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) has troubles at home and at school. Ignored and neglected by his parents, his relationship with his mother is further strained when he discovers that she has taken a secret lover. Added to this, his school teachers have written him off as a trouble maker and, with luck seemingly never on his side, it is Antoine who ends up getting the blame for bad behaviour. Finding refuge only in his love of cinema, Antoine soon finds it necessary to break free and discover what the world can offer outside the confines of everyday life.

I have always struggled with the labeling of this film as one of the pivotal entrances in the "Nouvelle Vague". Since Jean-Luc Godard's "Au Bout de Soufflé", who uses a completely different approach to film-making, with his restless jump-cutting and endless references to pop culture, Truffaut presents his case clear cut, as realistic as possible. But this was something completely different from the way American films portrayed juvenile delinquency so far. No iconic trouble makers like James Dean or Marlon Brando, just a realistic portrait of a twelve-year old boy sliding into isolation. The very idea alone was something novel, seldom depicted in a way like this.

Much of the praise must go to Jean-Pierre Léaud, who never even seems to be acting. His every movement, thought, expression come across as completely natural. Truly, one of the most remarkable performances of such a young actor I've ever seen. Watching this over 40 years after it was made, it all looks deceptively simple, with Truffaut's perfect integration of music and image, location shooting on the streets of Paris and the naturalistic performances. Truffaut used many innovations but they are not easily noticeable as in Godard's work. This was for instance the first French film to be shot in widescreen (aspect ratio 2.35:1), which required much planning on Truffaut's part, with some surprising results. In many scenes we don't see the other person Antoine is talking to, which gives the viewer the illusion as if Antoine is almost talking directly to the camera. Jean-Pierre Léaud would continue his role as Antoine in four more films by Truffaut, "Love at Twenty" (1962), "Stolen Kisses" (1968), "Bed and Board" (1970) and "Love on the Run" (1979).

Camera Obscura --- 9/10


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