Zazie dans le metro (1960, Louis Malle)

“I just got enganged.”
“Are you pregnant?”
“Not yet, but we’re getting married anyway”

Awesomely insane comedy following a girl (Zazie, who apparently had a cameo the following year in A Woman is a Woman) through Paris for a weekend vacation in the care of her uncle Gabriel (Philippe Noiret of Agnes Varda’s debut feature and La Grande bouffe).


Zazie quickly escapes her uncle. She teams up with an icky-seeming man who I’m not sure is trying to kidnap her or not, and the uncle (who is incidentally a cross-dressing dancer) teams with his cab-driver friend Charles. There are car accidents and cops and the uncle is kidnapped by tourists… all plot description attempts are useless. I also wasn’t paying total attention because it was on TV and I couldn’t pause when making dinner. Should be fun to watch again sometime.

Came out a year after The 400 Blows, half a year after Breathless, and there’s already a “new wave” joke in it.

Wasn’t letterboxed. I got screenshots from elsewhere.


Time out review:

Malle’s third feature plunges us straight back into the world of New Wave jiggery-pokery, with jump-cuts, lavish in-jokes, and a whirlwind narrative (taken from Raymond Queneau’s delightful novel) centred around a precocious brat (Demongeot) lewd enough to give a few tips to the Jodie Foster of Taxi Driver. It has survived the years much better than other indulgent frolics, mainly because Malle really does seem motivated by gleeful malice and anarchy – he’s not just toying with a fashionable mood. This spirit captured even underground guru Jonas Mekas, who commented on the original US release, ‘The fact that the film is a failure means nothing. Didn’t God create a failure too?’


Jonathan Rosenbaum:

Arguably Louis Malle’s best work. Based on Raymond Queneau’s farcical novel about a little girl (Catherine Demongeot) left in Paris for a weekend with her decadent uncle (Philippe Noiret), this wild spree goes overboard reproducing Mack Sennett-style slapstick, parodying various films of the 1950s, and playing with editing and color effects (Henri Decae’s cinematography is especially impressive), though gradually it becomes a rather disturbing nightmare about fascism. Forget the preposterous claim by a few critics that the movie’s editing influenced Alain Resnais, but there’s no doubt that Malle affected Richard Lester–and was clearly influenced himself by William Klein, whom he credited on the film as a visual consultant. A rather sharp, albeit soulless, film, packed with ideas and glitter and certainly worth a look.