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Jacqueline Bisset, Valentina Cortese, François Truffaut, Alexandra Stewart, Jean-Pierre Aumont ... see more see more... , Jean-Pierre Léaud , Dani , Nike Arrighi , Bernard Menez , Marcel Berbert , Henry Graham , Jean Panisse , Christophe Vesque , Jean Champion , Nathalie Baye , Maurice Séveno , David Markham , Marc Boyle , Gaston Joly , Walter Bal , Jean-François Stévenin , Pierre Zucca

Known to English-speaking audiences as Day for Night, La nuit américaine was director François Truffaut's loving and humorous tribute to the communal insanity of making a movie. The film details the m... read more read more...aking of a family drama called "Meet Pamela" about the tragedy that follows when a young French man introduces his parents to his new British wife. Truffaut gently satirizes his own films with "Meet Pamela"'s overwrought storyline, but the real focus is on the chaos behind the scenes. One of the central actresses is continually drunk due to family problems, while the other is prone to emotional instability, and the male lead (Truffaut regular Jean-Pierre Leaud) starts to act erratically when his intermittent romance with the fickle script girl begins to fail. In addition to all this personal drama, the film is besieged by technical problems, from difficult tracking shots to stubborn animal actors. The inspiration for future satires of movie-making from Living in Oblivion to Irma Vep, La nuit américaine was considered slight by some critics in comparison to earlier Truffaut masterworks, but it went on to win the 1973 Oscar for Best Foreign Film. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi

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92% liked it

8,848 ratings


100% liked it

29 critics

PG, 1 hr. 55 min.

Directed by: François Truffaut

Release Date: September 7, 1973

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DVD Release Date: March 18, 2003

Stats: 469 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (469)

  • July 6, 2012
    A great view about the charm, conflict, love, family and life in cinema. A cinematography poem to the artists of the seventh art. A better and more serious version of 'Noises Off' with very good actings of all the cast. Fresh.
  • March 7, 2009
    Why not give Truffaut a big budget and let him play with it? Why not indeed. La Nuit Americaine is the director's own account of life on the set, of the process of making a film, with all of its difficulties and its perks. With the help of dozens of charming, excellently written ... read morecharacters and the development of many different threads to a common storyline, he exemplifies the laughter and the tears and the interconnexion of humanities that the process of flimmaking implicates.

    Where Godard was ambiguous and Fellini was grandieuse (I'm talking Le Mepris and 8 1/2, respectively), Truffaut is subtle, good-hearted, and intimate (as he always is). Filmmaking is a personal, consuming project, and he chooses to portray even the most technical aspects of it which, any other director might have thought, could have been unappealing to an audience. Truffaut finds the humor and soul behind every task, as he does in his absurd plot deviation about his film's star's, Alphonse's, romantic obsession with one of the girls working on the movie.

    Jean Pierre Leaud is just as great as he always is playing the neurotic, insecure, obsessive Alphonse with a charming sense of comedy. Jacqueline Bisset is ethereal as she drifts through the movie, in a role of another, different neurotic. The same can be said of Valentina Cortese and Jean-Pierre Aumont, whose deep conviction of their having big screen presences only causes them to become legends in front of our eyes.

    During La Nuit Americaine Truffaut is so full of fascination, and admiration, and pride for what he does, that in the end the feeling is that of having just heard a good friend, or many good friends, speak about their jobs as directors, assistants, actors, make-up artists, or producers. There is an endless possibility of identification with their feelings, situations, attitudes. Day for Night is a film to inhabit and love.

    The film opens with a fantastic long shot that I will never forget. The note is happy. The music is beautiful. La Nuit Americaine is the best form of escapism.
  • September 8, 2010
    From the opening credits to the last frame it is great fun to see behind the scenes of the making of a movie. What is going on in the cast's and crew's private lives and how it affects the movie being made was the most interesting thing though. The many uninterrupted tracking s... read morehots following Truffaut as a writer/director named Ferrand, who for all intents and purposes is Truffaut, are amazing in their fluidity as he answers production questions from everyone who crosses his path. Jacqueline Bisset as a visiting American/British star in the French production of Meet Pamela is beautifully natural in her role. Jean-Pierre Aumont as the mature actor is also likable and charming. Nathalie Baye stands out in her hard working, strong, and attractive role as a script girl who seems to have more responsibilities than the assistant director. Jean-Pierre Leaud and Dani are good as a young immature couple, he the other lead with Bisset's and Aumont's characters, she getting an assistant continuity job through him. Valentina Cortese is an aging actress who is turning more and more to drink. Bernard Menez, the prop man, is quite funny. There are producers, other actors, more crew, paparazzi, and extras as well.

    Movie sets are controlled places where stories are committed to celluloid, not like real life. Still unexpected occurrences like trying to film animals, actresses becoming pregnant, emotions becoming unstable because of actors' private relationship troubles, and sudden death lead to changes being made to the script all along the way. One theme is the love of movie making, which we see throughout. Another is relationships between the sexes. When Alphonse (Leaud) asks Julie (Bisset) his repeated question "Are women magic?" she replies, "Everyone is magic. And no one is." By giving the actors and the crew the same attention, by giving the making of Meet Pamela the same attention as the off camera lives of those involved, and by giving several actresses roles as strong or stronger than many of the men have, Traffaut shows that he truly believes "Everyone is magic. And no one is."
  • fb721890245
    July 25, 2013
    It's very interesting that the English release of this film was not a direct translation of the French title which would have been "The American Night" Truffaut brings a nice mix of humour into yet another film about film making.
  • April 1, 2011
    This is a movie about the love of making movies. Truffaut himself plays a director who is making a movie that we all know will bomb at the box office. But it doesn't matter. It's about feeling most alive when you are on the set. There are many stories woven together here, the agi... read moreng actress and the unstable star among them. As an aside, It's fun to see moviemaking secrets revealed, like how to shoot a balcony scene.
  • January 4, 2010
    Others of Truffaut's best films charm because of their simple, contained stories. This one is broad and complex and still it has those personal touches that only Truffaut can deilver. The absolute greatest movie about making movies.
  • September 18, 2009
    Cinema on the run.Fucking gorgeous.The ingenious thought that generates the brain is "do we actually care of what Art truly is...and if so,how can we expand our knowledge more?".Cortese is adorable...
  • April 21, 2009
    Day for Night exudes all the enchantment, zaniness and transitory pleasures of the movie-making business. And the kitten that wouldn't hit its mark: so cute!
  • October 23, 2008
    Another Truffaut classic. A must see for anyone studying film.
  • October 23, 2008
    Truffault's love letter to filmmaking. As good, if not better than 400 Blows. The tagline for the masterpiece is spot on - "A movie for people who love movies".

Critic Reviews

David Jenkins
February 16, 2011
David Jenkins, Time Out

It's a hilarious and informative movie, and in the pantheon of films about filmmaking, it strikes a neat balance between the operatic neuroses of '8 1/2' and the warm, pastel-hued nostalgia of 'Singin... Full Review

Vincent Canby
May 20, 2003
Vincent Canby, New York Times

Truffaut is looking at the world from inside a glorious obsession: everyone outside looks a little gray and dim. Full Review

Roger Ebert
January 1, 2000
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

A poem in praise of making movies. Not good movies, not bad movies -- movies. Full Review

Emanuel Levy
April 12, 2012
Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com

Though not one of Truffaut's strongest works, this loving tribute to the chaotic process of filmmaking is charming, which may explain its win of the best foreign language film Oscar. Full Review

Philip French
February 22, 2011
Philip French, Guardian

It is a Pirandellian affair, an elegiac celebration of a dying kind of cinema, a meditation on the connection between film and life by Truffaut... Full Review

Allan Hunter
February 18, 2011
Allan Hunter, Daily Express

One of the great love letters to the chaos and creativity, joy and sorrow of movie-making. Full Review

Peter Bradshaw
February 17, 2011
Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

It is a breezy, richly enjoyable if not especially profound film about cinema: it conjures the ambient, dizzy sexiness of movie artifice, and it's also notable for a remarkable cameo by Graham Greene. Full Review

David Parkinson
February 17, 2011
David Parkinson, Radio Times

[An] exhilarating, Oscar-winning celebration of the movie-making process. Full Review

Kevin Harley
February 9, 2011
Kevin Harley, Total Film

Cinephiles will lap it up. Full Review

Cole Smithey
August 26, 2007
Cole Smithey,


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Day for Night : Watch Free on TV

Day for Night Trivia

  • John Travolta ran two hours a day and danced for three hours daily to get in shape for which film?  Answer »
  • In The Scene In Pearl Harbor Where Rafe Is Fighting For Britain, His Plane Gets Hit. As It Goes Down Into The Water, It Is Day. Later When They Show Him Swimming Out Of The Plane, It Is Night.  Answer »
  • In which movie is actress Diane Keaton a teacher by day and a party girl by night?  Answer »
  • John Travolta ran two miles a day and practiced danceing for three hours daily to get in shape for the film Saturday Night Fevor ?  Answer »

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