'The Bride Wore Black' (La Mariée était en noir) | Spring 2019
March 31, 2019
The Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room
Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 W. 129 St.
New York, NY 10027
March 31st, 2019 6:00 pm -
1968 / 107 min / color
Dir. François Truffaut / Scr. François Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard
Cast: Jeanne Moreau, Jean-Claude Brialy, Michel Bouquet
Adapted from The Bride Wore Black (1940)
35mm print courtesy of Film Desk
Introduced by Annette Insdorf, Columbia University
This screening was part of The Second Annual Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival
Into the Night: Cornell Woolrich and Film Noir
The first of Truffaut’s two Woolrich adaptations – the other being the following year’s La Sirène du Mississippi (based on Waltz into Darkness) – La Mariée était en noir was conceived by the French director as an unofficial “hommage à Hitchcock.” Along with his earlier La Peau douce (1964) and Fahrenheit 451 (1966), the film thus forms part of what Truffaut scholar Annette Insdorf dubs a “Hitchcockian strain” in Truffaut’s output in the mid- to late-1960s, a period which also saw the publication of his Hitchcock/Truffaut interviews.
Truffaut chose wisely in selecting his source text. Not only was The Bride Wore Black the first of Woolrich’s novels to fully realize the proto-noir sensibility he had been developing in his short stories of the 1930s, but it was recognized at the time of its publication as a literary parallel to Hitchcock’s work in film. “If you can imagine Alfred Hitchcock’s writing a novel the way he directs a movie,” a critic wrote in the Pittsburgh Press, “then you have some idea of the drama and breathless suspense of The Bride Wore Black.”
But Hitchcock and Woolrich are not the only presences here. Truffaut also described La Mariée as an attempt to reconcile Hitchcock with his other great influence: Jean Renoir. Hitchcockian technique is thus paired with Renoirian humanism in a game of cat-and-mouse in which, to quote from Renoir’s La Règle du jeu, “everyone has their reasons.”
A coda: La Mariée opened in New York on June 25, 1968, at the Festival Theatre on 57th and Fifth, just a mile away from the Sheraton-Russell where Woolrich was then living. At this point wheelchair-bound with one leg amputated, Woolrich would not leave his hotel to see it. He died three months later, on September 25.
About the Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival
Short story maestro, former Columbia student, muse of suspense filmmakers: Cornell Woolrich (1903–1968) lived all of these lives. The Second Annual Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival presents 12 adaptations of Woolrich’s fiction: from the canonized masterworks of Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut to lesser known “B” films and Monogram potboilers. Many films will be screened in 35mm.
This festival is the second in a ten-year series devoted to the legacy of film noir. It was funded by a generous gift from alumnus Gordon Kit (Columbia College ’76), in honor of his parents.
For more information, contact email@example.com