CORRESPONDENCE, 1945-1984 by Francois Truffaut


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First two volumes of Truffaut's letters, this deals with the French filmmaker's professional life as a film critic, director, and co-maker of his monumental conversation with Alfred Hitchcock about Hitch's body of work, published as Hitchcock. The second, forthcoming volume will be selected from letters dealing with Truffaut's personal life. The letters have their ups and downs. The up ones deal in detail with films Truffaut is making, with the four-year production of the Hitchcock book, and with his editorial duties as the most influential young critic of his generation. The down letters are masses of skim details about films he's been seeing, weightless lists that are important in that we see his all-consuming appetite for books and for viewing the works of hundreds of directors but that carry little more than a comment about his enthusiasm (or lack of it) for the item listed. In the earlier pages, the letters are most interesting when telling about Truffaut's imprisonment for being AWOL, his subsequent hospitalization, and his eventual rescue by older film critic Andr‚ Bazin. (""Bazin is going to see about getting me transferred to the Ivry fort in Paris, to the film unit;. . .I believe the doctor here would like to have me discharged on grounds of 'mental problems and hysteria resulting from hereditary syphilis of a psychorachidian nature' or something of the sort."") A youthful spirit and clear mind show up unfailingly, and Truffaut's mood swings during various stages of each film's progress reveal much about his battles with himself while making his masterpieces, The 400 Blows and Jules and Jim. But he was a very uneven director, and many dull films as well are followed in their making. The most blistering letter in the collection is to fellow filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard ("". . .you're nothing but a piece of shit on a pedestal""), from whom Truffaut was estranged for 14 years. Many shining pages parted by many pages that shine less.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux