Day for Night
(La nuit américaine)
Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Valentina Cortese, François Truffaut,
Truffaut gives us a behind-the-scenes romantic comedy in which the love interest is moviemaking. Every love affair must have its complications, and so the production-within-the-production is plagued by accidents, erotic misadventures, and wayward performers, including an alcoholically forgetful diva, an imported ingénue not quite over her nervous breakdown, and an uncooperative kitten—plus, of course, Léaud, who can actually deliver lines like the plaintive “Are women magic?” with a straight face. (When his girlfriend runs off with the stuntman, he’s terribly upset, but then, as a colleague points out, “he’s always terribly upset.”) Meanwhile, the director, played by Truffaut himself, has recurring black-and-white dreams of a cinephilic childhood. “Shooting a film is like taking a stagecoach ride,” he says. “First you hope to have a nice trip. Then you just hope to reach your destination.” But judging by the exhilaration of Day for Night, for Truffaut, the trip really is the destination.