Shoot the Piano Player
Sophomore outings by major directors don’t get much riskier or more playful than this. In François Truffaut’s comedy-crime drama Shoot the Piano Player, an aloof honky-tonk bar pianist named Charlie (Charles Aznavour) reluctantly gets enmeshed in gangster business. Around him reels a truly freewheeling dark little movie, one that veers between throwaway gags and dour and sometimes violent tragedy. It feels très modern, but audiences at the time considered it a disappointment after his smash debut, The 400 Blows. Shoot is not as warm as Truffaut’s other best work — he’d never again get so experimental — but it’s still a classic. EXTRAS A grade-A commentary track by film profs (who theorize that Shoot is about ”what a young man who’s just had tremendous international success might be feeling, in terms of fear of that success”); a mini-doc on composer Georges Delerue; and new interviews with the cast, including leading lady Marie Dubois, who reveals that Truffaut refused to reshoot a scene where you could see the camera casting a shadow on the actors because — God bless him — the acting in the botched take was just as he wanted it.