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.
How Jérémy Comte’s Oscar-Nominated Fauve Conjures the Nightmare of Boyhood
The director of this award-winning short film speaks with us about tapping into his childhood fears and fine-tuning the story’s white-knuckle atmosphere.
A Great LA Auteur Gets Candid in a New Documentary Profile
Legendary independent filmmaker Charles Burnett joins fellow pioneer Robert Townsend for a walking tour of South Central Los Angeles, where Burnett’s most acclaimed movies were shot.
How Julie Taymor Found a Zest for Life in Cinema
The acclaimed stage and screen director joins us for the latest installment of Adventures in Moviegoing, our guest-curator program on the Criterion Channel.