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Product Details

  • Actors: Charles Aznavour, Marie Dubois, Nicole Berger, Michèle Mercier, Serge Davri
  • Directors: François Truffaut
  • Writers: François Truffaut, David Goodis, Marcel Moussy
  • Producers: Pierre Braunberger
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Dec 6 2005
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B000BC8SWO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #42,126 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

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Format: DVD
Maybe one shouldn't compare the movie and book versions of a story. But sometimes that's inevetibable. And sometimes the movie actually improves on the book, ie. "In a Lonely Place." However, in the case of "Shoot the Piano Player," based on the book "Down There," by David Goodis, I can't say this is so. The look of the movie has that gritty noir feel, but all the time one feels as if they're watching the characters in a goldfish bowl ? from a great remove. You don't really get to know the characters or their motivations. In the book, this is much more clear and makes for a much more involving experience. Also, the addition of the character Fido (the piano player's younger brother) adds little to the story. In novel and movie we don't really get a great feel for why the waitress does what she does, but in the novel we get more of a feel for it and that does make a difference. It also makes a difference that we know more of the piano player's background, that he served with Merrill's Marauders in World War II, that, after losing his first wife, he went on a binge of anger and hate and fighting that finally led him to be the "docile" person he is when we meet him. This is little explained in the movie. Some of it's there, but much of it isn't and without it the character just seems a cypher. Read the book, watch the movie and decide for yourself.
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Format: DVD
Bob Dylan loves this movie. Need I say more?

Definitely one of the coolest movies I've ever seen, and my personal favourite Truffaut flick.
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Format: DVD
What a wonderful film it is. Nouvelle vague mogul Francois Truffaut and milestone french singer Charles Aznavour team up to light up the screen in one of the most memorable movies in french cinema history.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars 37 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly Bewildering and Innovative Cinema by Truffaut... Jan. 19 2006
By Swederunner - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Diverging is the first word that comes into mind after having seen François Truffaut's Shoot the Piano Player. The word in itself often brings to mind confusion and bewilderment, but this is not the case with Truffaut's film even though it is refreshingly surprising and innovative. The story presents one idea that delivers a new concept that becomes the parent of another fresh notion. A continual flow of new impressions allows the viewer to reflect for a brief second on the current state while awaiting the next sensation. Nothing is constant, as the story continuously provides new information, which after awhile begins to support itself in order to help generate different a thought altogether, as two different ideas converge where a third and unlikely concept emerges. Eventually the massive amount of thoughts delivers a complete and exhaustive idea - the show must go on.

Truffaut opens with the inside of a piano clinking away on a joyful tune. The massive number of keystrokes on the piano ultimately delivers the upbeat melody from the inside, which serves like a reminder to the audience about the complexity of a melody that rests in a large number of basic sounds. It could also analogously direct the viewer in to the concept of how basic elements in a series could present a rather complex idea, which the film also does in multiple levels. The inside of the piano could also symbolize the inside of a person, as people can talk about how they feel inside, and on occasion, the feelings emerge through actions. In either case, the complete truth might never appear, as a person has the power to decide what they say, or show through their actions. There are also moments when the spoken words conflict with the actions, yet life continues to run its course towards its unavoidable doom.

A jump cut, much used by Godard in his brilliant Breathless (1960) to save money, moves the audience from the piano to a man escaping something in the middle of the Parisian night. The scene provides a sense of urgency together through a number of intriguing camera angles that accentuate the stress until the man slams into a streetlight. The sudden stop provides an inspirational flash, as it surprises the audience while the question lingers in the air - from what is the man running. Consequently, a stranger appears and helps him up. Again, Truffaut astonishes the audience, as the stranger and the man begin an amusingly interesting conversation about relationships with women. However, the chase is not over, as the man continues his running escape until he arrives to a local bar where his brother Charlie Kohler (Charles Aznavour) works as a piano player.

Besides the scurrying getaway, the audience quickly learns that there is something mischievous in the works, as the man addresses his brother Edouard. However, for the viewer to guess will only get the audience in the wrong direction, as Truffaut intentionally uses visual syntax and signs in a deceptive manner. Everything that Truffaut does in the film breaks against the traditional visual narrative, which helps bring out the original experience that rests within the story. For example, Charlie, or should we call him Edouard, refuses to help his brother who is in deep trouble with a couple of pipe smoking gangsters. It also should be noted that the pipe is often one of the tools to symbolize the law enforcement such as Sherlock Holmes. Nonetheless, Charlie aids his brother in his escape, as his words also conflict with his actions.

In the process of helping his brother, Charlie ends up in trouble himself and he brings his neighbor Clarisse (Michèle Mercier) into the mess, as he sleeps with Clarisse almost every night. During the days, she takes care of his much younger brother Fido while she finds time in-between to make a living as a prostitute. Truffaut also provides a positive view of the oldest profession in the world, which also conflicts the cinematic norm of the time. At the same time, Charlie desires to approach Lena (Marie Dubois) who works as a barmaid at the same bar he plays the piano. While courting Lena more of Charlie's past surfaces, especially information in regards to his ex-wife Therese (Nicole Berger) comes forward in an extended flashback. After countless unexpected turns the film eventually will draw towards its end, as the story has many times circled the important aspects of life while never truly stated what is significant in life.

It is evident that Truffaut had a soft spot for film noir and gangster films, as he was also an expert on Hitchcock. He even published a book on Hitchcock. The gangster element is prevalent in Shoot the Piano Player, but it is far from the only important aspect in the film. Truffaut also touches on several issues that were important to him such as relationships and freedom. However, he does not continue in the same light, as filmmakers before him, as he bends and purposely breaks the many indoctrinated rules of cinema from before the 1950s. It is within the cinematic rebelliousness much of the diverging characteristics emerge, as Truffaut prompts a large number of ideas that at times seem to go wandering aimlessly. This directionless impression converges into new ideas that help strengthen the artistic perspective of the film. Ultimately, it allows the viewer to enter an utterly unique visual experience that will play with the audience's preconceived notions and assumptions, which will both intrigue and entertain those who desire something beyond the ordinary even though the film is over 50-years old.
5.0 out of 5 stars His second film was his second best. Not quite a masterpiece like 400 Blows but ... Oct. 5 2016
By M. Yablonovich - Published on
Verified Purchase
His second film was his second best. Not quite a masterpiece like 400 Blows but a great film. It's been called his most Godardian film -- very loose and playful. Will likely inspire anyone who loves new wave cinema.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An early Truffaut masterpiece. March 8 2000
By smarmer - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This was one of the movies that made me a fan of foreign cinema. I first saw it in college at a small art house theater that had been owned by Pauline Kael in Berkeley, before she moved to New York. Each film was accompanied by notes she had prepared. What a great way to start one's education in great movies.
This was also the perfect film for a young college student. Charles Aznavour plays an alienated pianist who is working on a honky tonk piano in a bar. We learn as the film unfolds that he is excruciatingly shy - a problem that afflicted him in his earlier career as a concert pianist, and that also keeps him from responding to the overtures of a beautiful young woman who takes an interest in him. They do finally get together and have an idyllic rendezvous in the country, but things unfold to a shocking and tragic end. The film closes with Aznavour back in the bar retreating into his honky tonk piano.
Truffaut gives us a black and white film in which verite and surreal elements weave together. The sense of alienation is palpable. The role of fate and how it pursues us is presented with black humor and some funny concrete sight gags. All in all it combines to form a masterpiece. Not easy to watch for those not familiar with French cinema, but very well worth it. Highly recommended.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Truffaut's best! And the disc is a beauty! April 15 2000
By Hsiang Tu - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A great film for anyone who wish to start watching Truffaut's works. Sandwiched between "The 400 Blows" and "Jules and Jim," this film is often overlooked and underrated. I've watched almost all of his works, and I'm amazed how "Shoot the Piano Player" still stands out and charms me.
The plot becomes purely an "exterior" after a couple times of viewing. Of course, one of the magic of this movie is that it refueses to be any genre you think it would be: All of the film noir/thriller/chase type of scenes turn out to be really humourous and light hearted; it's a comedy but also undeniably sad.
What remains in my head is Charles Aznavour's pianist himself. Here is a man who is beaten up by life with no career future; he's shy but would kill a man if he has to; he treats women well and they like him; and he always seems to make the slight wrong mistakes that changed his life. But he has his piano and that's all he needs. The expression when he plays tells you that he has dreamed of something bigger but has no complain about where he is.
This is the most freely structured Truffaut with some of his most lovable characters. And the DVD with it's widescreen transfer has amazing image quality for a black and white film in 1960. Although nothing extra in the disc, this one worth the money!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shoot the Piano Player June 28 2007
By John Farr - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This quirky crime film by the great Truffaut mixes sight-gag comedy with suspense, resulting in a superbly nutty homage to the 1940s film noirs he so admired. French crooner Aznavour is terrific as the timid keyboardist on the outs with the mob. Filling the screen with inventive visuals and advancing an ad-hoc plotline with plenty of false digressions, Truffaut gives this tale the exhilarating feel of a spontaneous spoof. Based on the novel by David Goodis, "Player" is a brilliant tribute to the spirit of noir and the French New Wave.