Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez sur le Pianiste) (1960)

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Released 24-Feb-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Stolen Kisses, The 400 Blows, The Last Metro, Jules And Jim
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1960
Running Time 78:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By François Truffaut
Pierre Braunberger
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Charles Aznavour
Marie Dubois
Nicole Berger
Michèle Mercier
Jean-Jacques Aslanian
Daniel Boulanger
Serge Davri
Claude Heymann
Alex Joffé
Richard Kanayan
Catherine Lutz
Claude Mansard
Albert Rémy
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Georges Delerue
Boby Lapointe
Félix Leclerc

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Charlie Kohler (Charles Aznavour) is a pianist in a seedy café, playing accompaniment to jazz groups and some very bad singers. His brother Chico (Albert Rémy) is being chased by some guys for reasons that don't become apparent until later in the film, but which will have a devastating effect on Charlie. Charlie suffers from shyness, which doesn't help him with his attraction to barmaid Lena (Marie Dubois), but doesn't stop prostitute Clarisse from giving him freebies. But it turns out that Charlie isn't who he seems.

    This is not your usual gangster flick/film noir. The plot seems to wander in and out as if it was just a minor distraction. The overall feel is of something much lighter than an American crime film. There is also the nouvelle vague style of jump-cutting; not as pronounced as in A Bout de Souffle from the same year but certainly this adds a more detached feel to the story. It is quite different from François Truffaut's first film Les Quatre Cents Coups, being much less serious and less traditional in the narrative approach.

    Aznavour might be better known as a singer, but his performance here suggests that his acting career could have been much more significant, as he is quite charismatic. The supporting cast are also good, and one wonders if Quentin Tarantino found some inspiration in the byplay between the two thugs in pursuit of Chico. While this film is not especially profound, it is very entertaining and shows the director's mastery of cinematic techniques.

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Transfer Quality


    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.30:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is not the best widescreen transfer of a black and white film I have seen. There is a reasonable level of detail but the transfer is not ideally sharp. The source material looks dated - not that that is necessarily a bad thing, as it reminds me of seeing films of the era at revival screenings. But if you don't have that experience, you might find this transfer a little disappointing.

    Contrast seems not quite right, as if it has been slightly boosted. The transfer is also lacking in brightness in some sequences. Shadow detail is quite poor, especially in the early sequences of Chico attempting to outrun his pursuers.

    There are some film to video artefacts, with some aliasing at times. More annoying is the low level noise that appears throughout.

    Film artefacts are visible, mainly in the form of white flecks and dirt. There is also a lot of grain in some sequences.

    The disc has optional English subtitles in a yellow font. These subtitles are well-timed and easy to read, except for a couple of examples where they were on screen for too short a time.

    The disc is single-layered, so there is no layer change to worry about.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The sole audio track is French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    This is quite a good audio track considering the age of the original. There is little in the way of hiss, dialogue is clear and there is not much constriction of the sound. This helps with the music score by Georges Delerue, which is mainly jazz-influenced and which adds a nice feel to the film. At times I thought that the audio might have been stereo, as there seems to be a depth to the sound, however on further investigation it is really just a good mono transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio

    Some audio from the film is heard over the static main menu.


    A listing of Truffaut's films, though not all of these were directed by him - not that you could tell from the information on this list.

Theatrical Trailer (1:54)

    A nice original trailer, but without subtitles.

Trailer-Stolen Kisses, The 400 Blows, The Last Metro, Jules And Jim (13:24)

    Trailers for other Truffaut films released by Umbrella.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The US Region 1 release has non-removable English subtitles with typographical errors and is not 16x9 enhanced. It has several more trailers for Truffaut films than the Region 4.

    The French Region 2 release possibly has the same transfer as the Region 4, given the latter has an mk2 logo displayed before the main menu. As extras it has

    The film has English subtitles but I have not been able to determine whether all of the extras also have subtitles. I doubt it somehow.

    It looks like the Region 2 is no better than the Region 4, unless you speak French of course.


    A stylish and entertaining early film from the French master.

    The video quality is variable.

    The audio quality is very good.

    No substantial extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Subtitling on French release - Gary Couzens
Above comment re subtitling - Gary Couzens