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Directed by François Truffaut

France 1960 92 mins.

Truffaut, hot off The 400 Blows, his masterpiece of adolescent dread, completely changes directions with Shoot the Piano Player!, a film influenced by Hollywood gangster movies that trades in claustrophobic framing for black-and-white Cinemascope grandeur and invention on a small scale. “France’s Frank Sinatra” Charles Aznavour (The Tin Drum, Un Flic) stars as Charlie Koller/Eduoard Saroyan, a nightclub pianist in the depths of depression following the death of his wife. Léna (Marie Dubois), a waitress, is falling in love with Charlie, but his past, unclear at best, begins to catch up with him—threatening not only his newfound love but much, much more. “Even more than Breathless, this 1960 Truffaut was the movie that broke the French new wave on American audiences. The mode is romantic gangster soulfulness; the theme is the audio equivalent of a pack of Gitanes.”—J. Hoberman, The Village Voice.