Directed by Florence Strauss • Documentary • 2020 • 56 minutes
Episode 3: The Audacious Ones
It takes nerve to forge ahead with a film when you’re broke, but it’s the kind of nerve that led to the production of some of the most successful mid-century French films.
This episode argues that the New Wave was partly driven by producers who saw hand-held cameras and cheaper lighting as ways to save money. Breathless was a collaboration between a producer and director who were both dangerously close to bankruptcy. Looming bankruptcy also featured in the making of The Sucker, which went 200 million francs over budget and saw producer Robert Dorfmann literally gambling with the salaries of crew members to try and win enough to cover his overdrafts. Meanwhile, Raoul Levy made a gamble of a different kind: threatening to tear up his contract with Columbia unless the studio distributed And God created Woman in the US. The gamble paid off, and the film turned Brigitte Bardot into a household name overnight.
Films spotlighted in this episode:
Breathless (1960) / Georges de Beauregard / dir. Jean-Luc Godard
And God Created Woman (1956) / Raoul Levy / dir. by Roger Vadim
The Sucker (1965) / Robert Dorfmann / dir. Gérard Oury