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Shoot the Piano Player (The Criterion Collection) (1962)

Charles Aznavour , Marie Dubois , François Truffaut  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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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 (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BC8SWO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,906 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Shoot the Piano Player (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

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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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
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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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Funny and Emotional Ride 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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic movie filled with many wonderful moments January 10, 2006
By Bomojaz
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
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
seen years ago
Published 12 days ago by jmg
5.0 out of 5 stars An all-time classic
An all-time classic, book and movie. A great example of the French New Wave and Trufaut's talent. If you love movies, don't miss it.
Published 9 months ago by David Chinoy
3.0 out of 5 stars 5 for the movie, 1 for the transfer
This transfer is afflicted with horrendous flutter, even worse than Antonioni's L'Eclisse. Don't even think of buying it. Get it from Netflix and send it back. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Doreen Appleton
4.0 out of 5 stars Why was the piano player arrested?
"Because he got into treble." Tirez Sur Le Pianiste or "Shoot the Piano Player" is an interesting Noir tale about a piano player and his trouble making brother. Read more
Published on December 10, 2010 by sashjuan
5.0 out of 5 stars Indescribable Crazy Quilt Classic
I went to college from 1967-1972. As film students we were told that the French "Nouvelle Vague", or New Wave, was the most revolutionary and most significant movement in cinema. Read more
Published on March 19, 2010 by Mr. Mambo
5.0 out of 5 stars SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER
This is a review for the VHS tape of Francois Truffaut's SHOOT THE PIANO
PLAYER, a film originally released in 1960 but I believe it wasn't shown ihere in America until 1962. Read more
Published on March 19, 2010 by Tom Without Pity
4.0 out of 5 stars If You're Interested in French Cinema, or the Great Directors
"Shoot the Piano Player," (1960), a black and white drama/thriller/romance/crime picture was only the second film made by the now near legendary French screenwriter/director,... Read more
Published on March 11, 2010 by Stephanie De Pue
3.0 out of 5 stars Sheet music
Francois Truffaut seems to me to have the flimsiest claim to greatness of any of the acclaimed European directors of his generation. Read more
Published on November 13, 2009 by Matthew Watters
4.0 out of 5 stars Out of Its Time?
We filled in one of our cinephile gaps the other night with Shoot the Piano Player. Maybe we should have transported ourselves mentally back to 1960 and, a la Eternal Sunshine of... Read more
Published on July 15, 2009 by James Carragher
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT MOVIE
One of the great features about this movie is hearing Charles Aznavour play the piano. He is a great piano player as well as a one of a kind singer. Read more
Published on August 6, 2008 by Karole H
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