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Two Films by Otto Preminger

Monday, September 3, 1979
6:40 p.m.
10:30 p.m.
Bonjour Tristesse
Otto Preminger (USA,1958)

Jean-Luc Godard modeled his similarly destructive Jean Seberg character in Breathless on Preminger’s Cecile, saying that his use of Seberg was a continuation of her role in Bonjour Tristesse: “I could have taken the last shot of Preminger’s film and started dissolving to a title Three Years Later.” Adapted from a Francoise Sagan novel about a teenager (Seberg) who does her best to break up a romance between her widowed playboy father (David Niven) and his mistress (Deborah Kerr), Bonjour Tristesse is set in Paris and Southern France, and was generally considered an embarrassing failure by mainstream critics in 1958. However, the French “auteur” defense of Bonjour Tristesse quickly crossed the channel to England, where Movie magazine championed Preminger’s profundities in their second issue, and eventually the Atlantic to New York, where Andrew Sarris claimed, in Film Comment (1965) that Preminger’s film, “far from being a merry Gallic romp is transformed... into a tragedy of time and illusion.”

• Directed by Otto Preminger. Screenplay by Arthur Laurents, based on the novel by Francoise Sagan. Photographed by Georges Perinal. Music by Georges Auric. With Jean Seberg, David Niven, Deborah Kerr, Juliette Greco. (1958, 94 mins, color and black and white, Print from Audio Brandon)