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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

So pleased with Jean-Pierre Léaud and his screen test (an informal conversation with the film's director being off-camera), François Truffaut doctored it into the finished film by using fade-outs and substituting his voice with off-camera female psychiatrist's voice. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the movie, crew footprints can be seen in the sand on the beach. See more »

Quotes

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


Soundtracks

Finale
Composed by Jean Constantin
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User Reviews

Truffaut's powerful and moving look at adolescence
18 November 2006 | by Camera ObscuraSee 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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