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(Credit: Jack de Nijs / Anefo)

Film

François Truffaut once named his favourite American film

François Truffaut is fondly remembered as one of the chief forces of the French New Wave, responsible for creating unforgettable masterpieces such as The 400 Blows as well as Jules and Jim among many others. Starting out as a film critic, Truffaut went on to become one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema.

Due to his background in film criticism, Truffaut’s vision of cinema was deeply informed by the cinematic masterpieces he loved. On multiple occasions, he expressed his admiration for the works of Jean Renoir as well as other pioneers such as Roberto Rossellini and Jean Vigo whose works had a deep impact on Truffaut’s cinema.

The French New Wave was fuelled by the auteur theory which was developed on the basis of the investigations of filmmakers such as Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock. In some American cinematic masterpieces, critics found that the vision of the director transcended the rigid operations of the studio system.

American auteurs like Welles revolutionised filmmaking by approaching cinema in all kinds of unconventional ways which sparked the New Wave in French cinema. Directors like Jean-Luc Godard and Truffaut facilitated the evolution of the cinematic medium through their own works which are still extremely influential.

Although Truffaut has spoken about the things he learnt from Welles and Howard Hawks, there is one particular gem that he considered to be his favourite American film of all time. In fact, the film is widely regarded as a cult classic since its filmmaker never directed another cinematic project after its completion.

Titled The Honeymoon Killers, the film was based on the true accounts of Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck and told the story of an overweight nurse who embarks on a killing spree of single women along with a conman. Martin Scorsese had been initially attached to the project but he was fired early on and Leonard Kastle stepped in.

According to the producer Warren Steibel, Scorsese was fired from the project because his process was too long and arduous. Kastle joined the project and decided that he wanted to make a cinematic response to Bonnie and Clyde: “I was revolted by that movie. I didn’t want to show beautiful shots of beautiful people.”

In an interview before he passed away, Kastle was asked about his reluctance to make another film and he said: “I have six or seven screenplays, and maybe something will happen. But one thing I can always say — and not every director can say this — I never made a bad film after Honeymoon Killers.”

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