By EW Staff
Updated December 17, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

World Class Cinema: Francois Truffaut ($354.76, Fox Lorber)

Francois Truffaut has long been considered the McCartney to Jean-Luc Godard’s Lennon, as sentimental and mainstream as his former Cahiers du Cinema colleague was edgy and iconoclastic. Take a closer look, however, and you’ll find that he, like the cute Beatle, was pricklier than his reputation suggests. These 12 discs concentrate largely on the beginning and end of the director’s too-brief career, omitting several key films from in between; rights issues prohibited movies like Day for Night, The Wild Child, and Mississippi Mermaid from being included. Instead, you get the wan, Vichy-set drama The Last Metro. There isn’t another true clunker to be found, however, and subtitled cinema doesn’t get much more magnificent than Jules and Jim or Shoot the Piano Player. Best of all, the set includes all five of the films in the terrific Antoine Doinel series, in which Jean-Pierre Leaud plays the director’s emotionally unstable alter ego over a period of 20 years, from his teens (The 400 Blows) to his thirties (Love on the Run). There aren’t many of the format’s ubiquitous ”special features” — just some trailers, a couple of audio commentaries by film critic Glenn Kenny, and tributes to Leaud and Jeanne Moreau — but with a body of work this strong, the movies themselves are more than enough. A-