To celebrate Bastille Day, we’ve got some movie tickets to giveaway for the upcoming screening of Jean-Luc Godard’s smash hit À bout de souffle more commonly known as Breathless.
The movie comes out on July 23rd at Landmark’s Embarcadero Cinema in San Francisco. Tickets are in pairs and are good for the run of the engagement. Winners will be chosen at random from the pool of entries.
France, March 1960. Jean-Luc Godard’s film “À bout de souffle,” (“end of breath”) aka Breathless in the USA, is released on an unsuspecting populace. The film is jumpy, non-linear and seemingly unscripted. Lines for the film go around the block. It’s the IN thing to do. The youth love the film, adults dislike or are not so sure what they just saw. Some are weary that it’s the sign of things to come. And that it was, Godard’s film heralded the “nouvelle vague” (the New Wave). Not just a term solely dedicated to film, “nouvelle vague” is really a term of the coming cultural changes of the 60s, particularly the youth movement.
That same week, France also got another taste of the “nouvelle vague” when Johnny Hallyday’s first 45RPM record was released on Vogue. Though he wasn’t the first French teenager to play rock ‘n’ roll, Danyel Gerard owns that technicality *, he was undeniably the most successful.
Yes indeed, the week of March 14, 1960 is one for the books!
*Gerard had released his first single “D’où reviens-tu Billy Boy” in December of 1958 on Barclay. He was drafted the following year in 1959 thus leaving the stage open for a young Jean-Philippe Smet. Richard Anthony had recorded some adaptations of American pop songs but he was already 20 by then, thus no longer a teenager.
While not the first French teenager to break into rock ‘n’ roll (Danyel Gerard holds that technicality) Hallyday he is undeniably the most successful and the first name people associate with 60s French Pop. (I know you Bardot A Go Go fans go much deeper than that, don’t worry!)
One of the challenges I face in making the documentary is illustrating the pleasure derived from the lyrics of French Pop songs. For years my DJ focus was on enjoyable music that didn’t require a comprehension of the language since my audience primarily didn’t know French. As I got better at speaking and understanding the language a new depth of enjoyment opened-up. Some artists have both great lyrics and great music. Gainsbourg for starters. Here’s a little title theme ditty he wrote for a television program called Dents de lait, dents de loup.
(Notice that the cameraman doesn’t quite know who to focus on!)
Dents de lait… aired on January 11, 1967 and is a sort of French American Bandstand except that it was a one time deal with only a single episode. The line-up is jaw dropping – Gainsbourg, France Gall, Françoise Hardy, Eddy Mitchel, Clo-Clo, Sylvie Vartan, The Zombies (actually playing their instruments! almost everyone else lip synchs), The Walker Brothers, a high Marianne Faithful, and a few more Euro pop stars. It was hosted by Annick Beauchamps and Le President Rosko who was an American who made a career DJing on pirate radio (they actually were on a boat on the English Channel broadcasting from “international waters” to the mainland) before he came to Radio Luxembourg and did a show for a French audience.
The term dents de lait (milk teeth) means baby teeth and dents de loup means wolf teeth. So the lyric goes “You, you’re only a baby; nothing but a baby wolf. You have the baby teeth; not the teeth of a wolf.” To which France Gall responds “Yes, I have the baby teeth;I’m nothing but a baby wolf; Yes, I have the baby teeth; the baby teeth of a wolf!”
It’s cute, simple, emblematic of the time and makes more sense in French than in English.
It’s never been released in any form whatsoever, but here is an MP3 nonetheless.