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All Movie Talk

Welcome to All Movie Talk! In this audio podcast, Samuel Stoddard and Stephen Keller talk about old and new movies, famous directors, historical film movements, movie trivia, and more.

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All Movie Talk, Episode 13

Show contents, with start times:

  • Film Style Spotlight: French New Wave (1:49)
  • Trivia Question: Fanfares of Love (17:49)
  • Best of the Year: 1980-1989 (18:32)
  • Film Buff's Dictionary: Cold Open (31:27)
  • Top 6: Movie Openings (38:20)
  • Famous Frame: Singin' In the Rain (52:29)
  • Closing: Trivia Answer, Preview of Next Week (57:17)
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Show Notes:


The French "Avec! Avec!" literally just means "With! With!" which is just one of the reasons it's so funny when Parisians shout this out as they flee the malodorous Pepe Le Pew.

Film Style Spotlight: French New Wave

Speaking of France, the French New Wave was a movement in French cinema that began in the late 1950s and is characterized by a rejection of older cinematic conventions. It is interesting not only because it produced a bumper crop of great films, but also because it heavily influenced cinema throughout the world.

Its roots are traced to Italian Neo-Realism and the Cahiers du cinema, a French film journal that employed many upcoming directors as critics. Among those critics was Francois Truffaut, whose 1959 film The 400 Blows is generally seen as the start of the movement -- though some make a case for Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows (1958) or, more rarely, Agnes Varda's La Pointe-courte (1956).

In 1960 director Jean-Luc Godard released his memorably off-kilter gangster film Breathless, which among other things helped to establish the jump cut as a viable editing tool.

Other important or interesting New Wave films we discuss include the surreal Last Year at Marienbad (1961) by Alain Resnais and the musical Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) by Jacques Demy.

Not every prominent director in France around this time was making New Wave films, though surely every French film after 1960 was at least partly influenced by the New Wave. For instance, the great director of gangster pictures Jean-Pierre Melville had a style all of his own well before the New Wave began. And somebody like Luis Bunuel is practically a film movement unto himself.

Trivia Question: Fanfares of Love

It seems that Stephen botched the trivia question a bit. The mystery movie is based on an earlier German work, but the plot description Stephen gave on the show is actually for an even earlier French film. Mea culpa.

Best of the Year: 1980-1989 Film Buff's Dictionary: Cold Open

The cold open is a simple but effective way to start a story: just start telling it without any other fanfare. A movie is said to have a cold open if we begin seeing the story before the opening credits. Almost unheard of since the earliest days of films -- when movies had no credits, period -- George Lucas opened Star Wars (1977) with a mostly cold open. That film opens with a title screen, but no credits, and launches right into the story. Lucas' decision to open The Empire Strikes Back (1980) in the same way over the protests of the writers' and directors' unions led to his resignation from those organizations.

Since then, the move has become increasingly common, though generally films still have some kind of credit scene at the beginning. For instance, the James Bond movies begin with an action sequence before the credits. Almost every modern American television show eschews opening credits together, starting with a cold open and then a short title scene.

Top 6: Movie Openings

See our separate Top 6 entry for more information about our picks.

Famous Frame: Singin' In the Rain

A picture is normally worth a thousand words, but our words are worth more than usual -- they're just that good. Still, if you want to see the frame in question:

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