Occasionally I dip my toe into the French New Wave, sometimes favourably and sometimes I get a bit lost. Of all the New Wave directors I find Truffaut the easiest to like and understand. Yet when I put Day For Night on I didn't know anything about it, I didn't know that Truffaut himself was playing a film director, I didn't know that the whole film was about making movies. The subject seems quite self indulgent but it's done with a tongue firmly in cheek that it's delightful.
It almost operates as a documentary on film making in some parts. I was hooked from the opening shots of the crowd scene to the ending shots of the same scene but being filmed in fake snow. The director Truffaut has to cope with the foibles, dramas and accidents that befall his crew. He has to be the most factful and flattering to the actors and the point of reference for everyone else, yet is eminently calm himself. Is he playing himself? Or is he playing the director he'd want to be, calm and collected. This director sets out wanting to make a masterpiece and pretty soon would just be satisfied with a finished product.
Jean Pierre Leaud is so annying and childish as Alphonse, surely a culmination of some of the worst of the actors Truffaut has had to work with. He's whinning and childish. Jean Pierre Aumont is lovely as the matinee idol who's job it is to romance his son's wife, his son being played by Leaud and his daughter in law by Jacqueline Bisset. Jacqueline Bisset is an American star who has had a breakdown but is far more manageable and amenable than some of the French cast and crew.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when the director gets a package of books,books on directors, Hitchcock, Dreyer, Welles, Godard and others, a nod to his friends and influences.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin