François Truffaut – Tirez sur le pianiste AKA Shoot the Pianist (1960)


A hapless pianist at a jazz club gets caught up with the mob, when his older brother who owes money to them comes to him for help. Eventually, the piano player and his girlfriend become pawns in middle of a dangerous game.

Truffaut first read David Goodis’s novel in the mid-1950s while shooting Les Mistons when his wife Madeleine Morgenstern read it and recommended it to him. He immediately loved the book’s dialogue and poetic tone and showed it to producer Pierre Braunberger, who bought the rights. Truffaut later met Goodis in New York City, where the novelist gave Truffaut a vintage viewfinder from his brief experience as a 2nd Unit Director on a U.S. film. Continue reading

Billy Wilder – The Apartment (1960)


Immediately following the success of Some Like It Hot, Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond wished to make another film with Jack Lemmon. Wilder had originally planned to cast Paul Douglas as Jeff Sheldrake; however, after he died unexpectedly, Fred MacMurray was cast.

The initial concept for the film came from Brief Encounter by Noël Coward, in which Celia Johnson has an affair with Trevor Howard in his friend’s apartment. However, due to the Hays Production Code, Wilder was unable to make a film about adultery in the 1940s. Wilder and Diamond also based the film partially on a Hollywood scandal in which high-powered agent Jennings Lang was shot by producer Walter Wanger for having an affair with Wanger’s wife, actress Joan Bennett. During the affair, Lang used a low-level employee’s apartment. Another element of the plot was based on the experience of one of Diamond’s friends, who returned home after breaking up with his girlfriend to find that she had committed suicide in his bed. Continue reading

André Heinrich & Alain Resnais – Le Mystère de l’atelier quinze (1957)


The role of the doctor in a factory. The investigations he makes to discover the origin of ailments which attack the workers in a large chemical factory.

Commande de l’Institut National de la Recherche sur la Sécurité sur la prévention des maladies professionnelles. Tourné en 1957 dans l’usine Francolor d’Oissel, ce documentaire prend des airs d’enquête scientifique pour découvrir le mal mystérieux dont souffre un ouvrier. Le Mystère de l’atelier quinze est un film atypique sur le monde du travail. Il se présente en effet comme un “polar”, avec un “crime” à élucider sous forme d’enquête.
Dans une lettre à L’Avant-scène cinéma, André Heirich décrit la réalisation du film : Continue reading

Robbins Barstow – Disneyland Dream (1956)


“The Barstow family films a memorable home movie of their trip to Disneyland. Robbins and Meg Barstow, along with their children Mary, David and Daniel were among 25 families who won a free trip to the newly opened Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., as part of a ‘Scotch Brand Cellophane Tape’ contest sponsored by 3M. Through vivid color and droll narration , we see a fantastic historical snapshot of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Catalina Island, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios and Disneyland in mid-1956. The movie was shot with a 16 mm handheld camera.

Robbins Barstow was a pioneering maker of home movies. Disneyland Dream is one of literally hundreds of films he completed from 1929 (when he first received a camera) until his death in 2010, many of which star his immediate family. Continue reading

Orson Welles – Around the World with Orson Welles (1955) (HD)


Sean Axmaker, Keyframe wrote:
When handed the raw materials from an unfinished documentary about Elmyr de Hory, an art forger whose life was being written up by biographer Clifford Irving, Orson Welles took the opportunity to make something far beyond the concept of the traditional documentary. F for Fake has been called the Orson Welles’ first essay film, a true enough statement if you limit the accounting to feature films, but he had been doing short-form non-fiction since 1955, when he made Around the World with Orson Welles (a.k.a. Around the World) for British television. Continue reading

Vittorio De Sica – Il tetto aka The Roof (1956)


THE ROOF, largely considered the last masterpiece of Italian Neorealist cinema, dramatizes a single night in the lives of Luisa (Gabriella Palloti) and Natale (Georgio Listuzzi), a strikingly good-looking but destitute pair of newlyweds. The couple shares a small two-room apartment with several relatives. Following a bitter family dispute, Luisa and Natale pack out of this untenable living situation. Luisa turns to a friend for housing, while Natale finds shelter in a toolshed. Realizing that separation is no solution, the couple struggles to build a small shack for themselves in a race against time by a Roman municipal edict, which declares that if the roof is not completed by dawn, it will be torn down by the police. True to writer Cesare Zavattini and director/producer Vittorio De Sica’s previous works (THE BICYCLE THIEF, UMBERTO D.), what risks being lost isn’t just material property, it is the personal dignity of the couple and by extenuation, the dignity of all of mankind. The acting, writing, and directing throughout THE ROOF is superb, creating an honest and touching story centered upon the mutual love and devotion of the young newlyweds. Continue reading

Franco Piavoli – Poesie in 8mm AKA Poems in 8mm [+Extras] (1954-1964)

Poems in 8mm are the early works of Franco Piavoli, digitally restored. Independent short films, captured with a simple Paillard camera, involving no crew and no production. In this collection, one can find Le Stagioni (The Seasons), precursor to Il Pianeta Azzurro (The Blue Planet), Emigranti (Emigrants), a short on immigration in Milan during the Sixties, Domenica Sera (Sunday Evening), and the experimental Evasi (Convicts). These titles, up to this point unavailable to the public in an edition that respects the original state of the film. This also goes for the Piavoli’s first work, Ambulatorio (Surgery), described by the director as mere playing around with the camera. Without music and words, it is nonetheless revealing of an artistic sensibility that would soon show itself in full splendour. Continue reading