Robert Regan

CineMaven: As part of the CRITERION BLOGATHON, I asked my good friend Bob Regan if he had any thoughts on any of the great films from this massive collection. He did:

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“LOVE ON THE RUN” ( 1979 )
Posted ~ November 17th, 2015

It’s not easy to choose a Criterion film to write about.  They have released fine editions of many of my long-time favorites, movies by Lubitsch, Renoir, Welles, Visconti, Ford, Hitchcock, von Sternberg, Ophuls, Rossellini. Some of these, like “The Leopard”, “Notorious”, and “French Cancan” are among the handful of my “desert island discs”.  But, is there one Criterion release unique in its appeal?  And, is there one which no one else is likely to write about?

ANTOINE DOINEL

About a dozen years ago, my daughters gave me for my birthday the newly released Criterion box set of “The Adventures of Antoine Doinel”.  This, of course, is the collection of the four features and one short that François Truffaut made about his alter-ego, played with sensitivity and charm by Jean-Pierre Léaud: “The Four Hundred Blows” (1959), “Antoine and Colette” (1962), “Stolen Kisses” (1963), “Bed and Board” (1970), and “Love on the Run” (1979).

LOVE ON THE RUN ( I )

Beginning when Antoine was about twelve and ending in his thirties, Truffaut tells of Antoine’s life and loves through the years. The first is perhaps a masterpiece, one of the finest debut features ever made, and it has been argued that, as usual with any series, there was a diminishing of “quality” as the cycle progressed.  Truth to tell, I more or less agree with this assessment, but then there are factors other than fine filmmaking that can make a film very close to us.  Why then did I choose “Love on the Run”, ostensibly the least, certainly the most ignored, of the story?  Why did I choose one of the “lesser lights” out of a career filled with deeply loved masterpieces?

LOVE ON THE RUN ( III )

Women play a large part in Truffaut’s work, even when the central figure is a man.  They are mysterious, magical, and usually inaccessible.  Moreau in “Jules and Jim”, Deneuve in “Mississippi Mermaid”, and many others are something above and beyond human.  Even in his remarkable short “Les Mistons” which preceded “The Four Hundred Blows”, Bernadette Lafont’s character is described by a reminiscing narrator as “the wondrous incarnation of our secret dreams”.  This sort of thing is very “romantic” and touching in an adolescent sort of way, but as we mature, if indeed we do, we menfolk must learn to look upon women first as people, human in all their glory, not less nor more.

LOVE ON THE RUN ( IX ) LOVE ON THE RUN ( X ) LOVE ON THE RUN ( V )

Some have seen “Love on the Run” as a recap of the series because of a number of flashbacks made up of clips from the earlier films, but what’s important here is that it brings back the women from Antoine’s past, and it lets us see him from their points of view. Claude Jade from “Stolen Kisses” and “Bed and Board” is here as Christine his wife, about to finalize their divorce.  There’s a chance encounter with Marie-France Pisier who had spurned his adoration in “Antoine and Colette”. We even meet his widowed stepfather who gives him and us a more generous view of his mother, last seen in “The Four Hundred Blows”.  And a few others turn up in person or in flashback.  What is most striking is that all these past loves, as well as his new girlfriend Sabine, are all grown up women and Antoine is still essentially an adolescent.

LOVE ON THE RUN ( IV )  LOVE ON THE RUN ( XIII ) LOVE ON THE RUN ( XII )

LOVE ON THE RUN ( VIII )The new girlfriend is played by Dorothée, then the host of a popular tv show for children.  In the film, she owns a record store, and is adorably cute.  Let me note here an important lesson she helped me learn: Never underestimate the “cute blonde”!  Though younger than Antoine, Sabine is more adult. She appreciates his charm and intelligence, and she will accept his continued adolescence. At least a little bit longer.

Claude Jade is an example of many European women who make one or two American films and then return home, never to be heard from again, at least in the US.  Around the turn of the millennium I looked her up and learned that she had been very busy in France after “Topaz”, lots of movies, stage plays, and tv shows.  She’s so revered in her homeland that she was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur.  Sad to say, though, when I looked her up again a few years later I learned that she had died of cancer at 58.  Marie-France Pisier had a similar career.  After the art house hit “Cousin Cousine”, she was in a couple films in Hollywood, notably “The Other Side of Midnight, after which she returned to France to act, write, and direct steadily until her unfortunate death by drowning at 66.  Fortunately, Dorothée is still alive and, I hope, kicking.

LOVE ON THE RUN ( II )

In a filmmaking career that lasted over a quarter century concerned with, if not obsessed by women, François Truffaut presents in “Love on the Run” not his best movie, but his most mature vision of women.


(   GUEST  BIO   )       (   H O M E   )

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11 thoughts on “Robert Regan

    • Thank you, Kristina. It’s a pleasure for me to be part of this admirable project. Your reaction is just what I hoped for, a renewed interest in a virtually forgotten movie. True, it is hardly a masterpiece, but we can’t live on masterpieces alone, can we?

      Just last night I came across an interesting footnote to my article. Jessica Ritchey wrote at RogerEbert.com: “In the spring of 1977 20th Century Fox was preparing a surefire hit for release. It was based on a bestseller, and from a genre that had been popular for decades. It had an international cast, and boasted shooting locations from all over the world. The studio was so sure of this picture’s success that in order for theaters to get the print they had to agree to take a two-bit sci-fi junker as well. Well, The Other Side of Midnight went on to open and die at the box office and became a tough question for a trivia night. The sic-fi junker named Star Wars that 20th Century Fox had no faith nor idea how to sell, went on to change Hollywood.”

      The entire article is entertaining and fascinating with a lot of food for thought.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The irony of those turn of events is mind-boggling, Bob. ( I loved “Star Wars” and was one of the twenty people who saw…and enjoyed “The Other Side of Midnight.” ) Thanx for the background info. For the entire post, read here.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Boy, I remember The Other Side of Midnight and my mom had the book too. Yes as Theresa says, what a twist that turned out to be, you just never know how “sure-fire” things will go. The beauty of being a movie fan now, is that titles are more available than before, and “lost” ones like these can get deserved attention, we just we need to be tipped off to them are posts like yours. thanks again for this!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I saw both THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT and STAR WARS in theaters that year. MIDNIGHT was, indeed, pretty bad, but could have been very funny in parts if seen with the right audience (think MOMMIE DEAREST and SHOWGIRLS). But the following year I had an impromptu date with a lively and voluptuous Irish Catholic girl, fresh out of high school, who announced that her favorite movies were THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT and ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Which version (of the latter), I asked. The X-rated one. The date was fun–we went to see the Jane Fonda movie, COMING HOME, which depressed her because it made her think, and followed up by going dancing at an Irish bar–but if her choice of favorite movies wasn’t warning sign enough, I learned afterwards that she had a mob-connected boyfriend, so I left well enough alone and just had to content myself with the evening I had.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Interesting point: the women in Antoine’s life grow up, but he himself does not.

    It sounds like this film – and this entire series – has compelling characters. I need to see this, pronto!

    Thanks for joining the blogathon, and for bringing Antoine Doinel along. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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