Combustible Celluloid

The Films in My Life, by Francois Truffaut

Hitchcock, by Francois Truffaut

Review by Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy The Films in My Life, by Francois Truffaut

I doubt anyone loved films as much as Truffaut did. At least if they did, they didn't write about them with such enthusiasm and passion. The Films In My Life reprints some of Truffaut's great film reviews and essays from the 50's and early 60's from Cahiers du Cinema. The reviews are grouped by director, (the first chapter is called "The Big Secret" and contains Truffaut's dozen favorites), influence, and country. I found only one negative review, for Anastasia (1956). Otherwise, Truffaut writes beautifully about Hitchcock's The Birds, Hawks' Scarface, Welles' Citizen Kane and Touch of Evil, Ulmer's The Naked Dawn, and Ray's Johnny Guitar, among others. He even reviews some of his French New Wave contemporaries' films. Other essays are on James Dean and Humphrey Bogart. The Films In My Life is one of my personal favorite film books.

Buy Hitchcock, by Francois Truffaut

Though Hitchcock did many interviews and had a distinct public persona, he rarely opened up to interviewers. Peter Bogdanovich's great interviews notwithstanding, this is the essential book on Alfred Hitchcock and a model for many other such interview books to come (such as the recent Billy Wilder interview book by Cameron Crowe). Truffaut edits the interviews in chronological order of the release dates of the films. Sometimes he gets Hitch to go into great detail about his films, and at other times the Master simply dismisses them. There's a detailed and complete Hitchcock filmography and dozens of great pictures. (Note: beware of used copies of the previous edition. Truffaut completed the book for the first time after Torn Curtain in 1966. After that, Hitch released three more movies and Truffaut updated the book to include Topaz, Frenzy and Family Plot.)

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