The 400 Blows + Johnny Tough

The 400 Blows – 7:45pm
Rightfully deserving of all the praise it continually earns over the decades, The 400 Blows offers an unforgettable, unsentimental exploration of the familiar lonely curiosity of childhood. With a great deal of humor and depth, Francois Truffaut’s debut feature introduced the world to his quietly fierce alter ego, 14-year-old Antoine Doinel. A stranger to his callous family, Antoine stumbles into progressively riskier situations in his struggle to extract some sense of purpose from unenviable circumstances. Along the way, Truffaut’s loosely autobiographical story touches on the French justice system’s frighteningly disaffected treatment of young offenders during the 1950s. Jean-Pierre Léaud’s remarkably natural performance in The 400 Blows set the precedent for actors of the French New Wave, including Léaud himself, whose future portrayals of Doinel can be seen in four more films comprising Truffaut’s legendary Doniel Cycle. A truly groundbreaking, beautiful film you cannot miss.
Dir. Francois Truffaut, 1959, 35mm, 99 min.

Johnny Tough – 9:45pm
Within the vast canon of ‘70s black cinema, there are many examples of classic film hits re-appropriated for a new audience, from The Wizard of Oz/The Wiz all the way to The Exorcist/Abby — but none are quite so compelling as Johnny Tough, a clear homage to Truffaut’s masterpiece The 400 Blows. Set in the charmingly desolate urban sprawl of ‘70s Los Angeles, the film follows a misguided kid whose constant clashes with authority (both in school and out) resonate within a broader, socially conscious theme of youthful rebellion. First-time director Horace Jackson commands incredibly real performances out of his very young actors, with incredible scenes of teacher/student confrontations that are so on-the-nose, you’ll be reminded of your own tough times in junior high. Far more important than its novelty, this movie has a huge heart, and keeps one thinking and marveling at its charisma throughout. Decked out with an incredible score by Chicago funk guitarist Dennis Coffey, Johnny Tough emerges not as a copycat film, but as a true genre gem.
Dir. Horace Jackson, 1974, 35mm, 87 min.

Watch the trailer for “The 400 Blows”!
YouTube Preview Image