Re: RARA-AVIS: Coup de Torchon etc. and French films

Juri Nummelin (
Mon, 15 Nov 1999 16:32:05 +0200 (EET)

On Sun, 14 Nov 1999, Etienne Borgers wrote:

> As much I like Truffaut, how much I regret
> he took THAT book from Goodis'to make a film Noir. I
> do not find the intentions of the book in his film,
> which is more about to make something Truffaut-esque
> than to explore really the HB/Noir of Goodis.
> But if you did not read the book, then yes you may
> enjoy the film for what it is.

Yes, you're right saying that Truffaut didn't do what Goodis had done. But I'd like to ask: why should he? He obviously wanted to make a pastiche or even a parody of American gangster and noir films and as such "Shoot the Piano Player" is very good.

> Adaptation of books to film is a very controversial
> subject and I consider that how "best" the book how
> more critical we have the right to be, when something
> is not of the same level in the film.
> Then just imagine when you see books you consider as
> top of tops being adapted...

I think we shouldn't compare books and films based on them, because they are different art works. Judging a film we should be able to criticize it without references to the book - in closer analysis that is of course rather impossible, but if it concerns only our personal references, the book shouldn't prevent us from liking the film. People usually say that the film was much worse than the book, but it's different genre and the same methods of critique aren't necessarily valid.

> The French New Wave, on the other hand produced far
> better real Noir movies than Truffeaust's- just think
> of Melville and Cavalier to start with.

Melville isn't actually a part of New Wave, since he started making films as early as 1940s (or 1930s?) and Cavalier is in the marginal of the movement. But Truffaut himself directed more HB/Noir stuff: Cornell Woolrich ("The Bride Wore Black" and the other film whose name I already forgot) and Charles Williams ("The Long Weekend", which is also a pastiche or a parody). Truffaut had warm words about writers like Williams - I can't quote them here and it was a Finnish study of the subject, so I can't now give you the exact source of quotation.

But Godard made a couple of HB based films and this isn't usually discussed, even in books about Godard. "Made in U.S.A." is based on a Richard Stark novel ("The Jugger", I believe) and "Pierrot le Fou" is based on Lionel White's "Obsession". And "Alphaville" was very loosely based on Peter Cheyney's Lemmy Caution books or rather the French films with Eddie Constantine playing Caution.


# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to # To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Mon 15 Nov 1999 - 09:32:55 EST