Truffaut Goes Wide for His “American” Movie

Like many of the pioneers of the French New Wave, François Truffaut was profoundly influenced by American genre cinema. His deliriously playful sophomore feature, 1960’s Shoot the Piano Player, shows his particular fondness for gangster movies, with its tale of a meek musician (Charles Aznavour) who finds himself entangled in the criminal underworld. Made on a small budget, the film was shot by the great Raoul Coutard in Dyaliscope, the French version of anamorphic widescreen, which Truffaut hoped would give his scrappy production a professional look. In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, the Criterion Channel’s collection of ten-minute lessons on cinematic style, Professor Jeff Smith examines the movie’s distinctive compositions and the energy they bring to the narrative. Watch a clip above, then head to the Channel to view the full episode and our edition of the film.

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