During its initial theatrical release, director François Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player left movie critics in a state of distraction: They’d never seen anything like this French farcical tragedy. It is now, of course, a classic — a must for collectors of great movies on cassette (and affordable at this re-release’s budget price).
A Gallic Bogart with his trench coat and cigarettes, pianist Charlie (doe- eyed Charles Aznavour) is intent on hiding from the world. ”Even when he’s with somebody,” says his girlfriend (Marie Dubois), ”he walks alone.” When gangsters attempt to gun down his brother, Charlie has no choice but to become involved with life again and renew his acquaintance with pain.
Part tribute to Hollywood B-thrillers, the movie seems to burst the film medium’s seams with flashbacks, voice-overs, iris effects, and a camera that never seems to stop roving. As it hurtles wildly from slapstick to melancholia and back again, Truffaut’s valentine to loners deftly scribbles a portrait of a life sadly out of tune but resonant with truth. A