A Woman Is a Woman (1961): Godard’s Second Released Movie, Musical Dramedy, First to Star Wife and Muse Anna Karina, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Jean-Claude Brialy

Jean-Luc Godard directed A Woman Is a Woman (French: “Une femme est une femme”), a French musical dramedy, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anna Karina and Jean-Claude Brialy.

Grade: B+

A Woman Is a Woman
1961 Une femme est une femme.jpg

Theatrical release poster

A Woman Is a Woman is sort of a tribute to the Hollywood musical comedy–or rather, the way that Godard was influenced and inspired by the genre.

It is Godard’s third feature film (the release of his second, Le petit soldat, was delayed by censorship), and his first in color and Cinemascope.

The film centers on the relationship of exotic dancer Angéla and her lover Émile. Angéla wants to have a child, but Émile is not ready. Émile’s best friend Alfred also says he loves Angéla, and keeps up a gentle pursuit. Angéla and Émile argue about the matter; at one point they decide not to speak to each other, so continue their argument by pulling books from the shelf and pointing to the titles.

When Émile refuses her request for a child, Angéla finally decides to accept Alfred’s plea and sleeps with him. This proves that she will do what she must to have a child.

She and Émile finally reconcile, so he has a chance to become the father.

The two have sex, then engage in a wordplay that gives the film its title: an exasperated Émile says “Angéla, tu es infâme” (“Angela, you are horrid”), and she retorts, “Non, je suis une femme” (“No, I am a woman”).

Anna Karina as Angela
Jean-Claude Brialy as Émile Récamier
Jean-Paul Belmondo as Alfred Lubitsch
Henri Attal as false blind man #2 (uncredited)
Karyn Balm as (uncredited)
Dorothée Blank as prostitute 3 (uncredited)
Marie Dubois as Angela’s friend (uncredited)
Ernest Menzer as bar owner (uncredited)
Jeanne Moreau as woman in bar (herself)
Nicole Paquin as Suzanne (uncredited)
Gisèle Sandré as prostitute 2 (uncredited)
Marion Sarraut as prostitute 1 (uncredited)
Dominique Zardi as false blind man #1 (uncredited)
11th Berlin International Film Festival[4]
Silver Bear for Best Actress (Karina – won)
Silver Bear Extraordinary Jury Prize (won)
Golden Bear (nominated)

Directed, written by Jean-Luc Godard
Produced by Carlo Ponti, Georges de Beauregard

Cinematography Raoul Coutard
Edited by Agnès Guillemot, Lila Herman

Music by Michel Legrand

Production: Euro International Films, Rome Paris Films

Distributed by Unidex

Release dates: July 1, 1961 (Berlin); September 6, 1961 (France)

Running time: 85 minutes
Budget $160,000 (est.)
Box office 549,931 admissions (France)
$100,665 (US)


Jean-Luc Godard Filmography

1960s (18)

Breathless (1960)

A Woman Is a Woman (1961)

Vivre sa vie (1962)

Le petit soldat (1963)

The Carabineers (1963)

Contempt (1963)

Bande à part (1964)

A Married Woman (1964)

Alphaville (1965)

Pierrot le Fou (1965)

Masculin Féminin (1966)

Made in U.S.A. (1966)

Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967)

La Chinoise (1967)

Week-end (1967)

One Plus One (Sympathy for the Devil) (1968)

Joy of Learning (1969)

British Sounds (1969)

1970s (2)

Tout Va Bien (1972)

Number Two (1975)

1980s (7)

Every Man for Himself (1980)

Passion (1982)

First Name: Carmen (1983)

Hail Mary (1985)

Détective (1985)

King Lear (1987)

Keep Your Right Up (1987)

1990s (6)

Nouvelle Vague (1990)

Germany Year 90 Nine Zero (1991)

Hélas pour moi (1993)

Les Enfants jouent à la Russie (1993)

JLG/JLG – Self-Portrait in December (1995)

For Ever Mozart (1996)

2000 (5)

In Praise of Love (2001)

Notre musique (2004)

Film Socialisme (2010)

Goodbye to Language (2014)

The Image Book (2018)