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The 400 Blows (1959)

Les quatre cents coups (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime , Drama | 16 November 1959 (USA)
A young boy, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.

Director:

François Truffaut

Writers:

François Truffaut (scenario), Marcel Moussy (adaptation) (as M. Moussy) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

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

Seemingly in constant trouble at school, 14-year-old Antoine Doinel returns at the end of every day to a drab, unhappy home life. His parents have little money and he sleeps on a couch that's been pushed into the kitchen. His parents bicker constantly and he knows his mother is having an affair. He decides to skip school and begins a downward spiral of lies and theft. His parents are at their wits' end, and after he's stopped by the police, they decide the best thing would be to let Antoine face the consequences. He's sent to a juvenile detention facility where he doesn't do much better. He does manage to escape however. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Best Directed Picture Cannes International Film Festival 1959 See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French | English

Release Date:

16 November 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The 400 Blows See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Spanish (Spain) dubbed version of this film has about 12 minutes of footage missing. When Antoine's mom returns home and argues with her husband while Antoine pretends to sleep, the scene in which the family heads home after going to the movie theater, when Antoine and René smoke and drink in Rene's room and when they throw things from the ceiling with blow pipes, are among the scenes that are missing. The scene in which the father talks about the new secretary sleeping with the boss is dubbed to the father speaking about the boss liking the new secretary and her being a very good worker and being promoted because of that. The interview with the psychologist was dubbed with the psychologist asking Antoine if he has had a girlfriend, and he talks about dating some girls but not liking any of them and finding a girl he liked but who chose an older guy instead of him, when in the original he is asked if he's slept with a woman and he goes on to talk about when he tried to get one to sleep with. See more »

Goofs

Position of Antoine's hands on the door when Rene comes to visit changes. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in Red Oaks: The Wedding (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Ecole Buisonniere
(uncredited)
Written by Jean Constantin
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Extraordiany Portrait Of A Parisian Youth - One Of The All Time Greats
12 June 2007 | by jdnmevansSee all my reviews

In viewing François Truffaut's The 400 Blows for perhaps the fifth time, I finally began to realize its true greatness. Inspired by the director's childhood, The 400 Blows (Truffaut's first film) is primarily about a young boy growing up with his mother and stepfather in Paris and apparently heading into a life of crime. Most adults see the boy as a troublemaker, but in the film, he is meant to be the protagonist.

Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) is the boy's name. He is resourceful, quiet, and does what he can to get by. At home, he has a struggling relationship with his parents, especially his mother. She is a woman of curious interests, always distracted by her incommodious son and a secret affair with a man from her job. Antoine's stepfather appears nice enough while treating his son as an equal in a good manner, although he is not really attached to him. However, both parents share common traits: they are away from home quite a bit and do not pay close enough attention to their son. Sadly enough, they only judge him by his behavior and by reports they get from other people.

At school, Antoine's teacher classifies him as a menacing troublemaker. Not that it is entirely Antoine's fault, he just has terrible luck. In the opening scene of the film, we see a poster with a half-naked woman on the front being passed around quietly by the students. The teacher is sitting at his desk with his head down, grading papers, until the poster comes to Antoine and he finds it. He sends Antoine to the corner of the room, where he writes a note of resentment on the wall. As punishment for that, he is to diagram the exact words that he wrote. At home that night, Antoine's homework is interrupted. Because he did not complete it, his good friend René convinces him to skip school the next day, although Antoine is reluctant at first. They walk around France and notice Antoine's mother kissing a man that is not her husband. She and her son make eye contact, but René assures his friend that everything will be alright. The next morning, as the boys return to school, Antoine lies to his teacher and says the reason he missed school was that his mother died. Everything is alright until his mother, furious, arrives at school and her son is immediately identified as a liar.

And yet, we see Antoine alone at home in some private, subtle, and hopeful moments. One of them being, his love for Balzac. He adores him, and we see him reading his biography and lighting a candle in a shrine in his honor at home. One day, at school, the students are proposed to write an essay on an important event in their life, and Antoine chooses the topic of his grandfather's death, in which he incorporates a phrase from his Balzac book. Alas, the teacher identifies this as plagiarism, and sends Antoine out of the classroom, along with René. The two boys stay at René's house for quite some time, living up to the expectations of a life of crime, until they steal a typewriter leaving Antoine caught trying to return it. He is later sent to a juvenile delinquent detention home.

The 400 Blows is not meant to be a tragedy. Rather, it is a character study following Antoine Doinel's life and decisions he makes as a direct result of the many things going on in it. Even The 400 Blows captures a few moments of happiness joy. One of these is a priceless sequence in which a gym teacher is leading Antoine's class for a jog through Paris, not realizing that the boys are peeling off and running away two by two. There is another scene after Antoine's shrine for Balzac catches on fire and his parents are stressing and yelling at him. His mother suggests an outing to a movie theater, where they end up going. After the film, we see the trio in the car, laughing and reflecting on what they had seen. We see this as a moment of hope for Antoine and his family, for this being the only time they are all happy together.

There are many poignant moments however, emerging late in the film after Antoine is caught for stealing the typewriter. His father is fed up with his behavior and escorts him to a police station where he is sent to a jail cell and later in a police wagon full of prostitutes and thieves, with his face peering through the bars, full of tears. His parents discuss with the authorities that they cannot not take him back because they believe he will only run away again. So, in turn, their son is taken to the juvenile delinquent school. These sequences express a reality of Antoine's life, in tune with the outcome of himself. He remains quiet and reserved towards the end of the film, as if he has nothing to say.

The story of Antoine Doinel and his many experiences allow a life to be filled with curiosity and exploration. Every second of the ninety-nine minutes of the film is not wasted. Truffaut allows every minute to be overflowing with creativity while still maintaining the central story of the protagonist. It is not a film that can be taken lightly as a family movie to be watched every Saturday night. It is a film to be given plenty of thought, carefully examined, and given a conclusion. The genius of the film does not rely on that, moreover, it relies on how much is put into the film. Down to the smallest detail, the film is able to maneuver and progress. The story contains elements of sadness, regret, family, warmth, happiness, humor, values, and choices. Just like life itself.


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