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The 400 Blows (1959)

Les quatre cents coups (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama | 16 November 1959 (USA)
1:06 | Clip
A young boy, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.


François Truffaut


François Truffaut (scenario), Marcel Moussy (adaptation) (as M. Moussy) | 2 more credits »
3,754 ( 775)
Top Rated Movies #220 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean-Pierre Léaud ... Antoine Doinel
Claire Maurier Claire Maurier ... Gilberte Doinel - la mère d'Antoine
Albert Rémy ... Julien Doinel
Guy Decomble Guy Decomble ... 'Petite Feuille', the French teacher
Georges Flamant ... Mr. Bigey
Patrick Auffay Patrick Auffay ... René
Daniel Couturier Daniel Couturier ... Betrand Mauricet
François Nocher François Nocher ... Un enfant / Child
Richard Kanayan Richard Kanayan ... Un enfant / Child
Renaud Fontanarosa Renaud Fontanarosa ... Un enfant / Child
Michel Girard Michel Girard ... Un enfant / Child
Serge Moati Serge Moati ... Un enfant / Child (as Henry Moati)
Bernard Abbou Bernard Abbou ... Un enfant / Child
Jean-François Bergouignan Jean-François Bergouignan ... Un enfant / Child
Michel Lesignor Michel Lesignor ... Un enfant / Child


Seemingly in constant trouble at school, 14-year-old Antoine Doinel returns at the end of every day to a drab, unhappy home life. His parents have little money and he sleeps on a couch that's been pushed into the kitchen. His parents bicker constantly and he knows his mother is having an affair. He decides to skip school and begins a downward spiral of lies and theft. His parents are at their wits' end, and after he's stopped by the police, they decide the best thing would be to let Antoine face the consequences. He's sent to a juvenile detention facility where he doesn't do much better. He does manage to escape however. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Angel faces hell-bent for violence. See more »


Crime | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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French | English

Release Date:

16 November 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The 400 Blows See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,206, 25 April 1999

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


François Truffaut's first major motion picture. See more »


At the end of the movie, crew footprints can be seen in the sand on the beach. See more »


[first lines]
Petite Feuille: Doinel, bring me that. Indeed! Go to the corner!
See more »


Featured in Frances Ha (2012) See more »


Ecole Buisonniere
Written by Jean Constantin
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Groundbreaking and semi-autobiographic film that initiated Truffaut's long career , concerning a peculiar character , Antoine Doinel
20 September 2019 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

This classic and unforgettable movie with amazing freshness catapulted Truffaut to international acclaim , dealing with a the trails and rebellious of 13-year-old Antoine Doinel . He is a rogue French schoolboy , starred by an adolescent Jean-Pierre Léaud , being the first of Doinel series , following : L'amour à vingt ans (original title) or El amor a los veinte años (1962) , a Short titled Antoine et Colette (1962) , Stolen kisses or Baisers volés (original title) (1968) , Bed and Board or Domicile conjugal (1970) , Love on the run or L'amour en fuite (1979) . The downtroddem , neglected and rebel teen Doinel delves into a life of petty crime . Antoine (Jean-Pierre Léaud) is often in trouble at school , especially with his French teacher 'Petite Feuille', (Guy Decomble) and doesn't get along with his parents (Claire Maurier , Albert Remi) , particularly his mum . While his friend René suggests that they play truant . Both of whom often skip school to go to a funfair attraction park or to carry out tiny theft . Antoine and Rene are suspended from school , they go gallivanting around the town. Unless something drastic changes in Antoine's life, he is destined down a path that will lead to nothing good, which is more problematic as he gets older. Instead of going to school, Antoine along with his friend René go to the cinema, play pinball, and visit a huge amusement rotor , a real funfair attraction . The following day Antoine tells his teacher that his absence was due to his mother's death; unfortunately his parents show up at school .Then he briefly runs away from home but then goes back . Things go wrong when Antoine to get money steals a typewriter from his father's office , being trapped by a janitor. It is quasi-autobiographical account of 13-year-old Antoine's bleak odyssey through family life , reform school whose precarious permanence is questioned and getaway . From the Vanguard of New Film-Makers Comes an Extraordinary Motion Picture . The Best Directed Picture Cannes International Film Festival 1959 . Angel faces hell-bent for violence.

Still one of the cinema's most sensitive , perceptive forays into infancy , it is intensely stirring but never mawkish , as Truffaut reveals an actual complicity with the rebellious teenager , being François 's first major motion picture. Shot on location in Paris in almost-documentary style and with a casually vivid eye . An increasingly compromised and attractive work in which Truffat demonstrates his narrative skills , being infinitely better than other self-indulgent films towards the end of his career . Fun for spotting the guest appearance of such Nouvelle Vague French luminaries such as Jacques Demy , Jeanne Moreau , Jean Claude Brialy , Jean Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut himself .Thought-provoking and engaging finale when a juvenile-court judge sends him to an observation centre in the countryside, from where he runs away, and doesn't stop until he reaches the sea , there takes place the frozen image of the boy face ; is it point of no return or freedom ? .Truffaut was seeking a young actor able to play Antoine Doinel, a troubled adolescent, in his first feature film "The 400 blows". Jean-Pierre was tested among a hundred other candidates and proved so amazingly spontaneous and so gifted for improvisation that not only was he hired but he would go on to play the role in four subsequent Truffaut semi-autobiographies concluding with "Love on the run" (1978), a unique experience indeed. Well starred by the boy Jean-Pierre Léaud with a long career along with Truffaut , Leaud is not everybody's cup of tea for sure, but will remain an important name in film history. Thanks to Truffaut he was introduced to the other stars of the French New Wave, mainly Jean-Luc Godard for whom he would appear in eight films and one TV film, and gradually became their icon. As an actor he can be adored or hated for exactly the same reasons: he is one of those rare players that directors let improvise his dialogue, which gets on certain viewers' nerves while it fascinates others . The same is true for his very personal staccato diction and elocution and his many mannerisms, the most obvious one being his way to run his hand through his long hair. This is a semi-biography of Truffaut himself , in fact the French director François Truffaut began to assiduously go to the movies at age seven similar to Jean-Pierre Léaud and he was even a great reader but not a good pupil . He left school at 14 and started working. Furthermore , the movie is dedicated to Andre Bazin , aged 15, as he founded a film club and met André Bazin , a French critic, who became his protector. Bazin helped the delinquent Truffaut and also when he was put in jail because he deserted the army .

It displays an atmospheric musical score by Antoine Duhamel , Truffaut's usual musician . As well as an evocative , adequate cinematography in black and while and documentary style by prestigious cameraman Henry Decae . The motion picture was competently directed by Truffaut , being one of the greatest and most influential of his films . His main themes were passion, women , childhood and faithfulness . His films gets several references to the American cinema, as Truffaut was a fervent moviegoer, such as : Johnny Guitar, Bogart, and his idolized Hitchcock . In fact , he was a big Alfred Hitchcock fan and defined him as his master . In 1953 Truffaut published his first movie critiques in "Les Cahiers du Cinema." In this magazine Truffaut, and some of his friends as passionate as he was, became defenders of what they call the "author policy". In 1954, as a test, Truffaut directed his first short film. Two years afterwords he assisted Roberto Rossellini with some later abandoned projects . The year 1957 was an important one for him: he married Madeleine Morgenstern, the daughter of an important film distributor, and founded his own production company, Les Films du Carrosse; named after Jean Renoir's Le carrosse d'or (1952). He also directed Les mistons or the brats (1957), considered the real first step of his cinematographic work. His other big year was 1959: the huge success of his first full-length film, 400 blows (1959), was the beginning of the New Wave, a new way of making movies in France. This was also the year his first daughter, Laura Truffaut, was born. From 1959 until his death, François Truffaut's life and films are mixed up. Let's only note he had two other daughters Eva Truffaut (b. 1961) and Josephine (b. 1982, with French actress Fanny Ardant). He also directed thrillers and intrigue movies such as ¨Shoot the piano player¨ is one of the best of his suspense movies along with ¨Farenheit 451¨, ¨Mississippi mermaid¨ , and ¨The Bride Wore Black¨. Truffaut was the most popular and successful French film director ever.

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