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Simply the greatest film about making a film ever made!
RWiggum30 September 2003
"Shooting a movie is like a stagecoach trip. At first you hope for a nice ride. Then you just hope to reach your destination."

Early in the film, director Ferrand, played by François Truffaut, says this in a voice-over of 'Day for Night'. A lot of the film illustrates that this is a very true sentence.

In his legendary Hitchcock book, Truffaut says at one point that it would be a nice idea to make a film about making a film, and Hitchcock agrees. Luckily Truffaut liked that idea enough to actually make this film, as 'Day for Night' is probably the best film ever made about making a film.

We are on the set of 'Meet Pamela'. 'Meet Pamela' is a love and revenge story, about a man falling in love with daughter-in-law. It looks very much like a pretty mediocre film. I doubt I would like it. But that's good, as it doesn't distract us from what's happening on the set, from the many characters.

We get to know the cast and crew of 'Meet Pamela': Julie Baker, a second generation Hollywood star whose nervous breakdown she's recovering from causes insurance problems; Alphonse, a very jealous, very neurotic French actor who's so madly in love with a girl he organizes the job of the script girl for her just to have her near; Alexandre, a veteran actor who played many lovers in his life, but is actually a closet homosexual; Severine, an Italian actress with an alcohol problem who used to play opposite Alexandre frequently in her career, but hasn't talked to him in years, maybe because she found out she had no chance to become his real-life lover. From the crew, we especially remember Joelle, the production assistant who almost seems to be more involved in the making of the film than director Ferrand (it is her who has the film's most often quoted line: "I'd drop a guy for a film, but I'd never drop a film for a guy"), Liliane, the girl who got the job as a script girl only because Alphonse wanted to have her around him, who doesn't really seem to be interested in the film - or in Alphonse; Odile, the makeup girl who also got a bit part in the film; Bernard, the prop man, who gives us with his every day work a look behind the scenes of a film; and the unit manager Lajoie, whose wife is always around and at one point shouts at the cast and crew because she just can't understand their 'immoral' behavior.

The film doesn't have a plot of it's own, but it shows us all these characters and their problems, trying to get a film made and getting over one catastrophe after the next, sometimes something as harmless as a kitten refusing to drink milk or Stacey, a supporting actress causing scheduling problems because of her pregnancy, sometimes something more serious as Alphonse refusing to go on acting after Liliane leaves the set with a stunt man, with even more complications to follow when Julie tries to cure Alphonse's neurosis. But not even a lethal car accident can stop the making of the film.

'Day for Night' also has brilliant performances, but three stand out: Nathalie Baye in her first notable performance as the omni-competent Joelle and Jean-Pierre Léaud, who never was better in his life than here as Alphonse, would make it a worthwhile film alone. But it is Valentina Cortese who steals the show as the fading actress Severine. Her scene opposite Alexandre in which she can't remember her dialog and suggests just saying numbers (she did the same when she worked with "Federico") is priceless.

At one point Ferrand says that a director is a man who is constantly asked many questions and sometimes knows the answer, and it is sort of a surprise that the one man who "invented" the auteur theory, which more or less says that a film is the director's work, makes a film that shows how many people's work is involved in the making of a film. But it is not only a film about people making films: Many of the characters (most notably Ferrand, Alphonse and Joelle) are film enthusiasts, and the entire film is a film from a film lover about film lovers for film lovers. It's Truffaut's best and shouldn't be missed by cinephiles.
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A movie made with skill and affection
marissas7516 January 2006
François Truffaut's "Day for Night" ("La nuit américaine") is a movie about the making of another movie, "Meet Pamela" ("Je vous présente Pamela"). From the snippets we see of "Meet Pamela", it looks like an insignificant and silly little film, even though its stars are fond of describing it to the press as a "modern tragedy." However, they mostly don't have time to philosophize about the larger meaning of "Meet Pamela"--they're just trying to film the darn thing!

"Day for Night" is an ensemble movie, showing how the many kinds of people on a film set surmount the many minor crises inherent in film-making. There are romantic entanglements and misalliances, as well as technical problems (e.g. the film's title refers to the necessity of shooting a nighttime scene using daylight and a special filter).

Valentina Cortese has some unforgettable, hilarious scenes as Severine, an alcoholic actress who can't remember her part. Also good are Nathalie Baye as an unflappable continuity girl; Jean-Pierre Léaud as an intense but callow young actor; and Jacqueline Bisset as an actress trying to survive the movie-making process after having suffered a nervous breakdown the prior year.

All these elements make "Day for Night" an entertaining movie. But upon reflection, I'm amazed at the craftsmanship it involved. Taking on the role of Ferrand, the director of "Meet Pamela," is Truffaut himself. He makes Ferrand into a professional, unassuming, and likable figure--it feels as though Truffaut put a lot of himself into his role. So it takes some conscious effort to disentangle Truffaut from Ferrand, but once that happens, Truffaut's astounding achievements become clear. As co-writer of the screenplay, Truffaut had a hand in everything that is said; as director of "Day for Night," he set up every shot in the movie. Even the shots in which he appears as Ferrand. Even the complicated shots that show the backstage workings of a movie set and feel so realistic that it's strange to think of them as having been set up. He shoots "Meet Pamela" unexceptionally, usually with a static camera (Ferrand-style) while the "real-life" scenes use hand-held cameras and other exciting techniques (Truffaut-style). It would probably take multiple viewings to appreciate all of what Truffaut did here.

I suppose this means that "Day for Night" is a noteworthy example of the "auteur theory." But that sounds like too dry and academic a summary for a movie that was made not only with superb skill, but also with a palpable love for cinema and love for life.
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Delicate but penetrating
DeeNine-224 May 2003
La Nuit Américaine is an interesting movie with celebrated French director Francois Truffaut playing a director making a movie. He proves to be a modest and convincing actor himself while patiently weaving a tale about how movies are made and how intense the emotional interactions among those making the movie can be.

Don't give up on this one too soon. It starts slow and seems almost amateurish because of the relatively low-tech way the film within the film is being shot. Truffaut gives us a glimpse of how the production crew works together (and sometimes at odds) while showing us some of the things that can go wrong while making a movie. He begins with the technical details of the production but before long begins to concentrate on the personalities of the movie-makers and their individual stories. Each story is carefully crafted in a somewhat leisurely way almost like the characterizations in a soap opera (without of course the phony drama and mass market sentimentality seen on TV). Truffaut's fine sense of emotional conflict and how conflict might be resolved makes the various stories touching without being maudlin.

Jacqueline Bisset who stars as English actress Julia Baker who plays the title role in the film within the film (May I Introduce Pamela?) doesn't make her appearance until about a fourth of the way in. She is a delight as an actress with a heart of gold recovering from a nervous breakdown married to an older man whom she does indeed love. Jean-Pierre Leaud, whom most viewers will recall as the running boy in Truffaut's The 400 Blows, plays a young and not entirely confident actor who gets jilted by the script girl who runs off with the stunt man during production. Bisset's warm and sisterly befriending of Leaud is, shall we say, entirely French (which gets her into trouble with her husband). This really is a skillful showcasing of Bisset since she gets to play something like an ingenue with her husband and the older woman with Leaud. Be careful you might fall in love with her.

Valentina Cortese in a fine supporting role does a most convincing job of playing the temperamental Italian actress just past her prime who quaffs champagne while working, who forgets her lines and can't find the right door, but when properly indulged gives a great performance.

My problem with this movie is I saw the dubbed version and of course that is disconcerting because one is constantly trying to reconcile the visualized actor with the dubbed one. To see Jacqueline Bisset who is beautifully fluent in both English and French speaking French while at the same time hearing someone else speaking English for her is just a bit too much to take. I understand that the DVD version is in French with subtitles. I would recommend that you get that and not the dubbed video.

Truffaut is the kind of director who allows the audience to penetrate not only his characters to see what makes them tick, but also the stars who play those characters. He does a particularly beautiful job with Bisset who is warm and wise and something close to heroic, and with Leaud whose childishness seems natural and whose pettiness forgivable. Don't believe those reviewers who think this is a slight film. It is carefully crafted and very well thought out and is a fine example of the work of the one of the great directors of the French cinema. See it for Truffaut whose delicate genius is evident throughout.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
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A classic love poem to filmmaking, witty, elegant, humane and entrancing
mjkarlin10 January 2004
Many movies have been made about moviemaking but none surpass Day for Night (La Nuit Américaine) for its humanity, its warmth and its genuine feel for Director François Truffaut's approach to his art and craft. The film follows Truffaut, in effect playing himself, as he makes a somewhat banal little romance called "Meet Pamela" (Je Vous Présente Pamela) with Jacqueline Bisset, Jean Pierre Aumont, Valentina Cortese (who was nominated for and should have won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress) and Jean-Pierre Léaud. It conveys the chaos of filmmaking process in front of and behind the camera and behind the scenes.

There are occasional false notes - the production manager's wife who insists on being on the shoot and watches disapprovingly as the cast and crew move in and out of each other's rooms, as funny as she is, simply doesn't ring true to the film - but in so many more cases, the details, the emotions, the mad combination of giddiness, passion and meticulousness that are needed to make a film, are captured so as to make you forget the slightly dated early 70s look. And Jacqueline Bisset is timelessly stunning in this film.

Minor notes: The movie launched the film career of Nathalie Baye as the continuity girl - her first major role; Graham Greene, the great English novelist (The Quiet American, Brighton Rock, etc.) had an uncredited cameo as the Insurance Agent - Truffaut directed the scene but did not know who the actor was until after the shot was in the can; Maurice Séveno, who appears briefly as a TV reporter, was a well-know French TV news anchor in the 60s and 70s; the score by Georges Delerue, who collaborated on many Truffaut movies, is lovely without being cloying.
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Cinema Reine!
slokes15 December 2007
"No sentimentality - just play notes!" is the instruction we hear over the credits that open "Day For Night". About three seconds later, we see silent film stars Dorothy and Lillian Gish striking highly theatrical poses, with a signed inscription by director Francois Truffaut saying the film has been dedicated to them.

So is sentimentality a good thing or a bad thing? Truffaut may be playing it both ways, yet "Day For Night" makes a great argument in both directions. You need to feel something to pour so much heart and soul into movie-making, but you also need to be hard-hearted, say for example if an actor dies before a film is wrapped or a cat won't drink milk on cue. "Day For Night" strikes an amazing balance between hard and soft, happy and sad, comedy and tragedy, and in the end offers a unique take not only on movies but on life itself.

"What a funny life we lead," says the aging starlet Severine (Valentina Cortese), summing up "Day For Night's" take on the ephemerality of both departments. "We meet, we work together, we love each other, and then, as soon as we grasp something - pfft - it's gone. See?" But if there is some consolation in Truffaut's view, it is the companionship life offers, especially on a film set, where families of intense passion and strength can sprout up in an instant.

Cortese is a treat, with both her sweetness and her lighter moments. Severine tries to make a dramatic exit in one scene but keeps opening a closet door. Everyone in this film shines in some way, selling you utterly on the idea you are not watching a movie but eavesdropping on a real set, even as Truffaut constantly makes references to the fact "Day For Night" is a movie. Jacqueline Bisset plays an actress known for being in "that movie with the car chase" while Jean-Pierre Léaud's character's girlfriend complains "he wants the whole world to pay for his unhappy childhood."

Truffaut was responsible for Léaud's unhappy childhood, of course, but, avoiding sentimentality, makes his young actor protégé more of a heavy and comic foil this time out, playing not Antoine this time but another fellow named Alphonse. Léaud rewards his director with a genuinely funny take-off on his intensity from other Truffaut films.

I also love Bisset, who as Julie gives the film a bit of real heart as the one character who has something of a life beyond movies, with a middle-aged lover she cares for almost sheepishly. Yet it is she who exemplifies "the show must go on" by risking her life outside the picture in order to save the picture itself.

Even Truffaut does a good turn as a major character, playing a film director. Truffaut always worked best as a slightly ruffled authority figure, here urging a tipsy Severine not to go through her difficult scene reciting numbers: "In France, we have to say the lines!"

There's very little I would want to change in this film, not even the garish 1970s clothes which give this film an appropriate aura of informality. It's soapy, yes, but so's life at times, and like life, it really makes you want to stick around for the moments it gets right. Sentiment may be dangerous to performance, but it seems worth having around in the end.
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A close and intriguing look at the film-making process
MaxBorg8920 December 2005
François Truffaut's La Nuit Américaine is one of the most remarkable achievements in the "film within the film" genre. The movie stars Truffaut himself (who else could possibly play the role?) as Ferrand, an experienced director who's working on a new feature, "Je vous prèsente Pamela" (I introduce Pamela), and La Nuit Américaine showcases the difficulties of the production: props not working, actors struggling to memorize their lines, crew members leaving the project and scenes that have to be shot various times before Ferrand nails them (the "bad actor-cat" scene is a must-see). You know the bloopers that are sometimes included on the DVDs? Same thing, only funnier. Truffaut is brilliant in showing how different an actor can be from his on-screen persona (Jean-Pierre Léaud is outstanding as selfish, spoiled Alphonse), the cast and crew's private lives affecting or being affected by the making of the film, and how the slightest detail can change an otherwise foolproof schedule.

The most intriguing aspect of this movie, however, is perhaps the autobiographical elements the director has added: it basically sums up Truffaut's entire career, with references to his previous masterpieces (Léaud's presence being the most obvious one), and he has clearly based the character of Ferrand on himself (the flashback with the then 9-year old film lover stealing pictures of Citizen Kane is pure movie magic). He fascinates us so much we don't immediately realize the film was made under the same circumstances as the fictitious flick the characters are trying to achieve.

A flawless love letter to cinema, La Nuit Américaine should be on everyone's must-see list. Thirty years on, it has lost none of its appeal.
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Truffaut's devoted work! Cortese's magnificent performance!
marcin_kukuczka15 June 2004
Truffaut's movie, dedicated to two great silent stars Lilian and Dorothy Gish, is very specific since it shows how a movie is being made from a technical as well as personal point of view. The content may seem to be boring for some people. However, it is not exactly so for many people since lots of us would like to see the real wings of a film and Truffaut's movie does a perfect job in this aspect.

The cast are generally good but the quality of performances is raised by very few individuals. The actors and actresses have a double work to do: to play in the film which is being shot, MAY I INTRODUCE PAMELA, as well as to play in DAY FOR NIGHT. Jacqueline Bisset is supposedly the main star of the film. Yet, she is far from best. Sometimes, it is felt that she cannot combine her role in DAY FOR NIGHT with her role of Pamela. She looks confused at switching to two different realities. There are some less famous French cast, like Dani or Jean-Pierre Aumont, who do a good job, but do not appear to be particularly memorable. However, the person who absolutely shines in her role is, in my opinion, Valentina Cortese. The Italian stage and movie actress, born in Milan, was cast by such great directors as Antonioni, Fellini, and Zeffirelli. She was always very good. But here, in Truffaut's movie, she gives one of her very finest performances. She beautifully combines the role of an actress and the role of Alfonso's mother. It's just a perfect flow between these two. I have watched the entire film twice, but the scenes with Ms Cortese - ten times. Her facial expressions in the portrayal of Severine, an alcoholic desperate movie star, her constant forgetting of the lines and opening wrong door, her whole acting REALLY DESERVE AWARDS!

Since the film's content deals with making movies, I would like to concentrate on one more aspect: how it really shows movie making and people who take part in it. Here, I must say that Truffaut did something unforgettable and universal. While watching DAY FOR NIGHT, a viewer is led to a wonderful journey into the core of film making. One can see, for instance, the scene shooting, problems with direction, writing the script, the private problems of the cast, the way others perceive the works, director's real devotion, including ultimate work - "Who is a director?...Someone who is constantly being asked". Finally, the film touches the most serious problem: what happens if an actor dies during filming... This is something that happens rather rarely (thank goodness); yet, it's double tragedy. Truffaut also develops the characters of actors and actresses - these are not only people who act but complex individuals.

I recommend DAY FOR NIGHT to those people who are interested in film-making. Truffaut did a piece of marvelous job and I am glad that Valentina Cortese was cast by him and her performance resulted in awards. She really deserves it.
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Interesting, entertaining and enjoyable
poshbloke30 March 2006
I still think it's my favourite of Truffaut's, even though my French teacher rolled his eyes, thinking I could have picked a more obscure choice! The reason why I love it so much, is that it has so much to it. Not only is it a clever tale of a film inside a film, but Truffaut also gives you a view into his own world, as well as those of his actors and crew. Truffaut provides some advice on being a film maker in a friendly manner, and you get the impression that this person is really interested in engaging with the audience in a down to earth manner. There is development and a little explanation of the characters which have appeared in his earlier films, particularly Antoine, of course, which I liked, although it's not completely on a plate of course. All in all, def worth a watch.
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Making a Film in a Tribute to the Cinema
claudio_carvalho11 September 2011
In Nice, the Studios La Victorine is producing the film "Je Vous Presente Pamela", about a French man that marries the English Pamela in England and brings his wife to France to introduce her to his parents. However, his father and Pamela fall in love with each other and she leaves her husband to live with her father-in-law. The producer Bertrand (Jean Champion) and the director Ferrand (François Truffaut) invite the British Julie Baker (Jacqueline Bisset), who had a nervous breakdown and married her Dr. Nelson (David Markham), to the role of Pamela.

Along the shooting, the cast and crew are lodged in the Hotel Atlantic and Bertrand and Ferrand have to deal with problems with the stars Severine (Valentina Cortese), an aging artist with drinking problems that affect her performance; the immature, spoiled and needy Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Léaud); Julie that is emotionally unstable. But in the end, they succeed to complete the film.

"La Nuit Américaine" is a film about making a film and a great tribute to the cinema. This is one of my favorite Truffaut's films and the last time I saw it was on 08 January 2001.

It is impossible to highlight performances in this film, but the mesmerizing beauty of Jacqueline Bisset shines. Jean-Pierre Léaud performs his usual role of an insecure man, using the same gestures of Antoine Doinel.

In 1992, Louis Malle explored the storyline of "Je Vous Presente Pamela" in "Damage". My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "A Noite Americana" ("The American Night")
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Magic Kitty
tedg25 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Start with the notion that film has life. Film life has its own cosmology and energy that adapts and sustains.

Stripped of all the unnecessary bumph, this is the notion behind the New Wave, the Old New Wave that is. At first, they mistook this life for real life, or something like it. So they developed an elaborate, Italian-inspired theory of truth, meaning that the camera sees and conveys truth in real life, presented journalistically. Or, as they would hope, naturalistically.

Truffault struggled with this limit in his writing and then filmmaking, Godard as well -- each coming to a different solution. Truffault's new insight was to rediscover the notion of reflexive layers, first developed by Welles in "Kane." This is his essay on his discovery and so far as the placement of narrative was far more influential than anything of Welles.

The notion of journalistic truth was out, but the core belief of film AS life stayed. Not depicting or discovering life, but creating it. There is a relationship between ordinary life and film life, so why not make a film with precisely those two worlds? Why not add another layer: real, real life.

So we have the real real world which consists of director Truffault and a collection of actors. We have the film real world where they play a director and actors, and we have the film film world of the movie being made. Three levels. This follows what I call Ted's law: the level of abstraction between level 1 and 2 is precisely the same and in the same direction as between levels 2 and 3.

Welles used the notion of constructed realities for his layers, goofed with the camera and ran through the whole menu of narrative devices. Truffault discards the last two and transforms the first: instead of film as an artificial, constructed life, it has its own sort of life that captures people. Pinter would take this step from "Kane" to "Day" the next step with "French Lieutenant's Woman" where each life (of film and "reality") partially constructs the other, and blessing each with greater power. (Almodovar attempts the next step in the same direction with "Tie Me Up" and "Talk to Her.")

Much is made by others of the humanity of the story and the characters, but that is all incidental. Some people are magic, and so they are in film. It is a matter of the magic, not of the people. As a side observation, all the true magicians here are women and the level of their magic is denoted by the redness of their hair. The minor plot points deal with different foibles of that magic, as if it were an "8 1/2" focused on women.

Three scenes particularly stand out for me:

-- the much celebrated scene where Truffault sets Julie's hands (but watch the movement of Truffault's hands)

-- the non-magical kitty who can't cross boundaries into the next world and is replaced with the "set cat" by our ubermagical Joellne

-- the children playing a card game where everyone in the film (the real film) is a card operating under clear rules

The dream sequence borrowed from Bergman was also a nice, if esoteric touch.

Watch this. It changed everything that followed.

Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.
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The reality of illusion
jutulen30 December 2002
La Nuit américaine (1973) or Day for Night as it's also known, is a classic film about making films. Whereas Fellini's 8 1/2 focuses on the inner creative process of the film director, Day for Night focuses on the practical details of physically making the film. We see the often absurd process Ferrand (the director played by director Francois Truffaut) and crew engage in to create a film.

The director must constantly answer questions about every detail of props, sets, camera, lighting, costumes and at the same time engage in a constant delicate negotiation with the actors. In one scene Ferrand is frustrated as he tries to direct a cat: "Listen, it's very simple. We'll stop and begin shooting again when you find me a cat who knows how to act!" Ferrand tells the actors whatever they need to hear to keep them going. He strokes some egos and treat others as children as he negotiates the turmoil of their personal lives when it affects their performance in the film. The whole process of making the film is a controlled chaos with many details and even the story constantly changing. Towards the end of the making of the film, one of the actors die, making it necessary to do a last-minute re-write. Day for Night is an entertaining film that shows the good, the bad and the ugly of making a film. While the technology and process has changed a bit since this film was made, the core of the story is as relevant today as it was then.
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Are All Women Magical
paranoidnebula13 April 2006
A film-within-a-film that lacks the common pretension that appears in the genre. In most of these sorts, there is a certain air that "film" is a higher form of art than any existent today. What "Day for Night" straight-facedly states is that the actor's day is nothing more than the daily "grind" of the common worker, and that the director is nothing more than the "general manager," who is bombarded with questions at every turn. This film more than others clearly gives light to the famous quote of Orsen Wells -- that to make a film is comparable to playing with the world's "largest train set." What impressed me most with this film was its approach to the art form without tending toward unnecessary flourishing. In other words, it is a film about films, and nothing more. It's almost as if Truffaut desired to say, "This is what it's all about, and no joke." The film does not attempt to preach, condescend, or embellish, as most of today's "film-within-a-film" types ordinarily do. It is, in short, a delight for the eye, an excitation for those who love the art, and a pleasantry for those who enjoy sitting in one place for nearly two hours.

This is the Art of Film, by one of film's greatest admirers and pupils.
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I Dare Anybody
Piafredux4 May 2003
I dare anybody to resist becoming involved with the characters in 'La Nuit Americaine". This is brilliant cinema storytelling upheld by a superb cast (my favorite is Nathalie Baye as the Continuity Girl - and not because she speaks the best line in the film; but Valentina Cortese's turn as Severine is delicious too). The editing here, too, is a tour de force of film art - actually, I'm surprised that few critics have mentioned it in their rush to acclaim 'La Nuit Americaine' as <<la grande hymne a la cinema>>. Most of all this film is as densely layered and as sweet as a Napoleon pastry - indeed, near its ending Truffaut lavishes its set with frosting.

Some claim that 'La Nuit Americaine' has dated. Well, it can date me any day, anytime, anywhere (and, yes, that was an oblique reference to the best line Nathalie Baye delivers). With this film Francois Truffaut cut and polished and gave, from his intellect and heart, a gem whose facets and heart will sparkle eternally. An absolute must for everyone's "don't miss" list.
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A Film about joys of cinema
FilmCriticLalitRao19 March 2003
La Nuit Americaine is an exuberant celebration of the joy of film-making, The title refers to the effect of night in a day.Truffaut has resourcefully tackled the most haunted question "Is Cinema superior to life".The film is an engaging drama about the people involved in making a film. Truffaut has declared on numerous occasions that real incidents experienced by him were the material for this film.La Nuit Americaine is a meaningful film about the hardships one must endure while making a film.Making a film about a film is a complicated task but Truffaut succeeded with ease in creating an oeuvre of exceptional beauty.Cinema is shown as a big family in which Truffaut as film director Ferrand has to take care of everything including the bad mood of his players.La Nuit Americaine is an honest film which gives you an idea about the fact that personal problems don't matter,if you are taking part in a film.It is the cinema which rules.Truffaut wished that the public would love to watch this film as much as he enjoyed making it.La Nuit Americaine,which Truffaut dedicated to Lilian and Dorothy Gish,was one of the last films to have been shot at the famous Victorine studios
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tobiasn12 July 2004
Jean-Pierre Léaud suppresses a smile at the end of two scenes, in a amazing way. You may have to love the movie to notice.

One scene is the one where director comforts 'Alphonse' in the hallway of his hotel room. What shines out here is how much respect Léaud and Truffaut had for each other. The actor is not just enjoying pretending to be serious, he is appreciating the ironies in the script, everything.

The other time is when the assistant finds 'Alphonse' riding toy cars, when he comes screeching to a halt in the little vehicle. You can tell Léaud cannot help but break into a miniscule smile. Very subtle, but it is there.

I loved the magazine-cover scene. The score to 'Pamela' has to be played over the phone to the composer (something like that), so we get to hear the music as we are shown shots of magazine covers depicting film directors. Only trivial in the sense that a beautiful sunset is trivial.

What is great about this movie is that is not serious but at the same time it is serious. For instance, I think it is unfair to criticize Bisset for a leaden performance, her role is the most difficult because she has to play tragic in a comedy.

I love the title (both the French one and the American one), but it might give a false impression about this fun movie.

More than any other non-serious movie, I highly recommend watching 'Day for Night' from the beginning. If you start in the middle it might come across as lightweight, its subtleties lost.
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Beautiful film making on film making!
Joaquim9 December 2002
Truffaut delivered a true masterpiece with "La nuite américaine", this is a very good "feel good" movie that does not cheat or fool you. A "feel good" movie made the way one should be done: with honesty and sincere passion for what is being shown on screen. It's about the beauty and the love an artist has for the craftsmanship of his work. In this case, the collective work of making film. The final shots and music, specially the music, are amazing and very beautiful. Please allow yourself to be carried away by those shots of the crew saying goodbye! I just saw it again at the theater and it really moved me, once more. A love poem to cinema, with interesting characters, situations, great actors and hilarious situations. A romantic comedy, and the couple here is Truffaut and film making! If you love movies, this one is for you. Beautiful, tender, poetic and deep. Excellent! Don't miss it!
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Watchable and entertaining, but not for everyone...
Blueghost31 July 2004
This film's often praised as a classic or masterpiece by those who have some knowledge of film making and/or the film production process. That, and it's also a "French" film made by renown French director Francois Truffaut. It's definitely watchable and entertaining, and deserves some notoriety, but, personally, it's hard for me to call it a masterpiece (albeit a good film).

It's a fairly decent film, but nothing extraordinary unless you're wrapped up in the whole film making process. That is to say it helps if you're involved in the industry to really appreciate the scenarios that are being presented, because they are quite accurate in general (the various problems and situations that arise and must be overcome), but are somewhat exaggerated here because Truffaut's attempting to present many of the things that can (and often do) go wrong during production, but tosses them into one film.

It's the kind of movie that tries to offer a slice of life that most people don't get to experience, and makes some minor comments on the lives of both cast and crew. If you've read either jutulen's (Colorado, USA) or jennifer_nz's (Auckland, New Zealand) comments on this BBS, then you've read pretty much what you need to know about this film, and what it's all about.

What the film doesn't show is the more mercenary aspect of the industry. So be warned you're getting a very sugar-coated look at the "realities" of motion picture production. The film doesn't show crew members networking and competing for the next job, nor the intellectual theft and real material theft that occurs on sets and stages, nor how cast and crew often demonstrate their lack of respect to ordinary folks (and their values) who are interested in seeing a movie being made (though those things are really "American" occurences). Nor does it show the vast amount of litigation that occurs "in the family" as the cast of "Day for Night" might say.

Often the film gets unwarranted praises because of its exposition on the "art of film making." It's more than a docu-drama, but not quite a traditional classic--at least not in the commonly understood sense. The industry's changed some since then (somewhat more industrialized, but also somewhat more sordid in more subtle and white-collar-like ways), but in general is more or less the same, and "Day for Night" gives some good examples of that.

See "Day for Night" once. If for no other reason so you can brag about it at the next cocktail party; i.e make yourself look well versed in "cinema" and just generally smart :-)
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interesting look into the world of film making
MartinHafer7 August 2005
This movie reminded me very much of Fellini's movie, 8 1/2--except it seemed a little more narrative and a lot less surreal than the Italian film. For some, this might mean that this Truffaut film is perhaps a little less "exciting" and more concrete, but I still preferred it to 8 1/2. Truffaut played, what else, a film director making a film entitled "Pamela". It was a little odd that the names were all changed--the actors, director, producer, etc. I think this is because this isn't really a documentary but a movie about you watching a movie being made and so it isn't exactly reality. This left some questions, though, about where reality and fiction diverged. In particular, I was curious if Truffaut REALLY was hard of hearing, as in the role of the director he wore a hearing aid. I never saw Truffaut with one before, though he couldn't have worn it when he acted in the movie Wild Child, as it was set in the later 18th century! Overall, the film was very interesting and worth watching. Great? Not really, but certainly on of Truffaut's better films and much more conventional that the similar but wildly surreal film 8 1/2.
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Cosmoeticadotcom10 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
In his films he shows considerably more technical skill, overall, than his great rival, Jean-Luc Godard; but even when Godard woefully misfires, as in some of his early films, he's at least striving for something. Truffaut, by comparison, likes shiny, pretty things, and anything that disturbs that safe universe is averse to him. Thus, his 116 minute long, 1973 filmic take, Day For Night (La Nuit Américaine), on the behind the scenes goings on at the making of a movie amount to little, as neither the exterior film, the interior film, nor the extra-exterior of the viewer watching the film, satisfies on any level. The characters on all levels are rather vapid, if not outright cardboard characters, and it's a tossup as to which set of characters are more vapid- those who portray actors in Day For Night (whose title derives from film scenes that are shot day for night, wherein a filter is used to give the look of night while shooting in daylight, yet the metaphor of which is pointless to the actual film), or those the actors portray within the interior film Meet Pamela (Je Vous Présente Pamela- literally May I Introduce Pamela). On either level, the action is purely melodramatic. Critics argue the film shows how much François Truffaut loves film. So? Love without action or meaning is rather sterile- the perfect description for this well made but dull and simply pointless film. There have been many films made about the making of film, or meta-films on the subject, even going back to the silent era. But, the two most interesting comparisons to be drawn with this film would be from films released a decade earlier. One by Truffaut's rival- Godard, who made Contempt (Les Mepris), and the other by Federico Fellini: 8½ (Otto E Mezzo).... Still, despite its awards and reputation, Day For Night is not near a great film, merely an adequate one, whose greatest failing is its being too long for its banal and lightweight screenplay to sustain itself. If it lost 30-35 minutes it could have been more successful. Then again, I may as well grow wings, for the screenplay aspect of films was never high on the list of the French New Wave filmmakers, who were birthed out of the atrocious Cahiers Du Cinéma magazine on film theory. The filmmakers who came from this milieu (Truffaut, Godard, Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol) were generally not good writers (with the exception of Louis Malle), even if they were competent technical and visual stylists. Their writing, as critics, was routinely bad, consisting of purple prose that dealt with the criticism of intent, rather than substance, and was usually only undershot by the often worse ideas they espoused. Thus, Day For Night's failure is no surprise. It is too prosaic, flat, and hollowly predictable to succeed as great art, even if it is an interesting diversion, at times. Compared to a film like John Cassavetes Opening Night, which similarly details the dramatic goings on of a stage production, it is fey and forgettable. Say what?
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a cute masterwork, if such a thing exists
Quinoa19843 July 2000
Two things. First, Francois Truffaut has a film with Day for Night that is meant like a gift for film buffs. The story is kind of fluff, no super high stakes or insane drama, but a solid tale showing a director (Truffaut plays this while directing himself) who is having trouble directing a movie and also is dealing with one of his actresses (Bissett). It's interesting because it takes a look into the directing process (sort of), but also is surrounded with typical Truffaut romance that makes good entertainment.

Second: You don't know filmmaking until you have to get that shot of the kitten coming up and licking the milk just so out of the tray the Bisset character leaves out. There are other examples of the highs and lows (or the 'stagecoach' factor) of cinema's process in the movie, and some colorful side plots like with Jean-Pierre Leaud's whole neediness. But it's such a wonderful story and such great passion for all of cinema itself that it makes for irresistible viewing despite (or in spite of) some of its more wishy-washy plot mechanics.

It may even be one of the director's three or four best. Truffaut won his one and only Oscar (well deserved) for best foreign film. A+
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A Painless Primer On Film
R Becker2 February 2006
There's nothing very profound about DAY FOR NIGHT, but it is a fun examination of how films are made, what it's like to be on a set making them, and the obsession with film that fuels them. Truffaut is just a bit of a ham playing the director, but he keeps it so businesslike that you don't really concentrate on what he's doing. Bisset is eye candy but has a pivotal role built on the adage that "the show must go on," and the rest of the cast is entertaining. The real star is the cinematographer, whose visuals are often a dance between the camera we see through and the cameras in the film-within-a-film. Overall, if you'd like to know how movies are made (and somehow haven't absorbed that information by osmosis!), DAY FOR NIGHT is a sweet and harmless introduction to the world of movies.
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Amusing in parts
raymond-1512 July 2004
Because i like films with small casts, this one is not my kind of film. I find it a bit confusing with so many characters (with so many different problems) coming and going at breakneck speed. If ever I wished to become a movie director, I think this film has certainly cured me of that desire unless of course it was my intention to commit suicide following a nervous breakdown.

The production of a film within a film was interesting for me never having experienced a large movie set. I thought the kitten scene was hilarious. As an actor I've been on stage with a dog and i know the unexpected problems one encounters. Also, it's nerve wracking when some players cannot remember their lines. I've used the same ploy myself by pinning sections of the script to walls and curtains and furniture. In fact at one time i thought this was an original idea of mine. I was highly amused to see the idea used by players in the film about Pamela.

It is said that being on a movie set can be very boring because of the repeat takes. If you are not in that particular scene you may have to sit around for hours. I have to admit that this film develops the right atmosphere with lots of pressure on the director as he attempts to finish the film within the prescribed time limit and so many of the players happen to be absent at the moment when required to do their part.

I was delighted to pick up quite a few bits of technical information e.g. a burning candle is fitted with an electric globe half way down the length of the candle (out of sight of the camera of course) which gives a nice glow on the face of the character. We are told that a revolver should be held at arms length for best dramatic effect and the size of the firearm is important too. The snow making equipment was intriguing and the effect quite convincing. Lots of aspects of movie making are included such as priming oneself with alcohol before going on the set and the dangers of overdoing it. Obvious Truffaut has faced all the eccentricities of movie making and combines them with good effect in this film.
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Tru Faux
writers_reign24 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I found this more interesting in my capacity as a student of irony than my capacity as a movie buff. It was pleasantly rewarding to see the iconoclast and arch advocate of the 'auteur' school shooting a film about making a film that showed just how much of a team effort film making actually is yet even then he could not avoid a petulant 'voice-over' comment that from now on films would no longer be made under the old rules that demanded scripts and studios but in the streets with ad libbing all round. Shrewdly the iconoclast is aware that movie buffs enjoy seeing films ABOUT films but even his giant ego doesn't run to supposing he could ever eclipse The Bad And The Beautiful or Sunset Boulevard and for an 'auteur' he gave the lion's share of the writer credit to two other people. The film is worth seeing for the 'inside' look at film making and for the performances of Valenina Cortese and the young Nathalie Baye in only her third film and the one that first got her noticed. I'm never going to fully embrace Truffaut but with this film and La Dernier Metro he has made something at least watchable.
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Overrated trifle
allyjack9 July 1999
The movie is good on the details of how the crew is thrown together like a crazy family, with all the frictions and tensions yet all the affection that survives despite obnoxious behaviour. The history and greatness of cinema is evoked mainly by name-dropping rather than through the substance of what s shown - the film within the film, Meet Pamela, seems to be fairly inconsequential, and that quality sadly pervades Truffaut's film too. The elegant whirlwind of connections and incidents and couplings and mishaps seems partly like a self-regarding somewhat self-complimentary inside joke and partly just like an artistic trifle. Most lacking of all is the character of the director himself, who has less of a back story than almost any other and remains a cipher - less of a benevolent father (as perhaps intended) and more a passive functionary who sidesteps any ability the movie might have had to delve into the real nature of the medium. Touches like his using the Bisset character s real-life dialogue in an equivalent movie scene play with the boundary, but it's not much.
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Movie about a movie about...
vitachiel8 December 2017
Movie about a movie who's director is the director of the movie's movie. Nice to have a look behind the scenes of film making, although much of it looks rather staged, including bad acting and over-acting. Which makes the fictional movie about people making a movie really looks like people making a fictional movie.

In a movie that you don't really like, sometimes there's one scene that almost makes up for the rest of the movie. A scene that you will probably never forget. Like the Japanese guy doing a karaoke act of the Sex Pistols in Lost In Translation, here the WOW scene is the short cat intermezzo. Silence... tension...touched... A moment of true movie magic.
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