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Shoot the Piano Player (The Criterion Collection)


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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: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: December 6, 2005
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BC8SWO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,145 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Shoot the Piano Player (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Francois Truffaut is drunk on the possibilities of cinema in this, his most playful, anarchic film. Part thriller, part comedy, part tragedy, Shoot the Piano Player relates the adventures of the mild-mannered piano player Charlie (Charles Aznavour, in a triumph of hangdog deadpan) as he stumbles into the criminal underworld and a whirlwind love affair. Loaded with gags, guns, clowns, and thugs, this razor-sharp homage to the American gangster film is pure nouvelle vague.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 28 customer reviews
Depressed over the suicide of his wife, he begins to fall in love witha waitress at the bar.
Ted
It has Truffaut's extraordinary gentleness and laconic casual style that can rise to an intensity of emotion that is devastating.
Peter G. Keen
Charlie, a piano player in a seedy Paris bar, has locked away his heart so even he can't get to it.
JOHN D THOMPSON

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By darragh o'donoghue on July 5, 2001
Format: DVD
Truffaut said he realised, when filming 'Shoot the Pianist', a gangster film, that he hated gangster films. He shows his contempt most by consistently emphasising human truth over generic convention, but finally allowing generic convention to win brutally through. For Truffaut, genre is incompatible with humanity and its messiness.
Like many of my favourite films (and it is my favourite), 'Shoot' is a reworking of 'Vertigo', the story of a man who lets two women die because of his own emotional cowardice, leaving him in emotional shellshock. Aznavour's performance - and this isn't sufficiently realised - is one of the towering achievements of cinema, a complete, physical embodiment of diffidence, guilt, solitude and emotional paralysis, a man more lethal in his dithering passivity than murderous gangsters are in their violence.
Like all the best art, 'Shoot' is a tragicomedy, moving bewilderingly between the two moods, creating a devastating emotional texture - the hilarious scene where Charlie debates the best way to hold Lena only to tragically realise she's gone, or the frightening abduction scene that sees captor and juvenile captive argue comically over scarves.
As the title suggests, music is this film's soul, the only thing that can transcend genre for Charlie, the only way an emotionally dead man can feel.
Truffaut's restlessly inventive mise-en-scene, switching between studied artifice and breathless open air filming, is full of Hitchcock, Godard, Ophuls, Ray, Renoir - all the best of cinema; but in truth, there is no other film like it.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on May 8, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
Truffaut's "Shoot The Piano Player" is a remarkable thing: a funny and light-on-its-feet movie about despair. The director combines the grittiness of David Goodis' noir novel "Down There" with his own more optimistic humanism and the full stylistic arsenal of the French "New Wave" to create a film that manages to say as much about Art and Life as any really good, satisfying book. Charles Aznavour plays the timid Edouard, aka Charlie, a piano player in a cheap bar who is really a classical concert pianist hiding from a catastrophic, tragic history. A pretty new waitress knows who he is and encourages him to live again. But as in most American gangster movies, you can't run away from your past. Truffaut includes an amazing amount of philosophy about women, Fate, success, failure, marriage; all couched in a runaway style that is familiar to us today, but must have been shocking and exhilirating back in 1960. (The famous cut to the "old woman dropping dead" could have come directly from MAD magazine.) And who hasn't sometimes felt bedeviled by fortune and shyness: we greatly identify with Charlie. The comically incompetent yet sinister villains are also a great touch. This movie feels as fresh as it must have 40 years ago.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on January 10, 2006
Format: DVD
Truffaut's second film after THE 400 BLOWS, and it finds him experimenting all over the place. Charles Aznavour plays Charlie Kohler, once a very prominent concert pianist, but now playing honky-tonk in a back alley joint. Once he thought only of his great career, but in the process lost his wife to suicide (she slept with his promoter to help advance his career and he could never forgive her); now he wants only obscurity. But he inadvertently gets mixed up with a couple of thugs who are after his two brothers, and he falls in love with another woman (Marie Dubois). The thugs end up kidnapping Aznavour and Dubois, and although the two lovers had made plans that Aznavour would pursue his "career" again, fate seems to be against them: she is killed in a shoot-out at the end.

Truffaut said this movie was "a grab bag." And it does seem to have everything in it but the kitchen sink: it's rooted in "B" Hollywood gangster movies, is a wonderful mixture of comedy and tragedy, and has almost no storyline. In fact, Truffaut throws the storyline to the wind: it's a picture of touches, of quick, fleeting moments, rather than narrative continuity. Its juxtapositions are wonderful: fame and obsurity, love and hate, gangsters with a sense of humor, lots of action and the desire to go and do nothing. It's a great movie - funny and sad - and one filled with many memorable moments. Definitely worth a watch.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kim Anehall on January 19, 2006
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.
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