Man And A Woman, A (1966): Claude Lelouch’s Stylish Musical Romance and Oscar Winner, Starring Trintignant and Anouk Aimee (in Oscar Nominated Performance)

Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, 1856-present

Year 11: French Film

A Man and A Woman, directed by Claude Lelouch, was one of the most popular international hits of the 1960s.
A classic romantic triangle with a twist, the movie revolves around a young widower, a young widow, and her husband, who’s very much present in spirit (and music).
 
Adding to the movie’s kinetic quality is the fact that the leading characters all have exciting, photogenic occupations: stunt man, script girl, racing-car driver.
And it also helps that they are placed in a precise temporal context (from January 1st to the 22nd), and in a defined spatial area (Deauville, Paris, Monte Carlo).
 
Lelouch described his first romantic movie in the following way: “The subject–Passion against marriage, life against death, speed against love. It is a film of emotions. The sound was more important than the words, the colors more enchanting than the scenery. Every moment was a cry, the sound of a car engine, a song.”
 
If the actors seem passive, it’s because Lelouch’s restless camera–shooting through rain, snow, ice and into sunsets–supplies the changing tones and the moods for them. 
Said Lelouch: “With this film I became convinced that one must not narrate but express. What the characters did not say was often more important than what they said.”
 
The beautiful French star Anouk Aimee (who had appeared in Fellini’s “81/2”) is appropriately mysterious and glamorous. The two leading men, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Pierre Barouh, are like a teen-age girl’s dream boyfriends–daredevils to the outside world but gentle and sweet with women.
 
The original script was written by Lelouch and Pierre Uytterhoeven.
Francis Lai’s highly melodic score achieved fame on its own merits. 
 
Premiering at the prestigious Cannes International Film Festival, A Man and a Woman later won the 1966 Oscar Award for Best Foreign Language Picture.
A massive global hot, A Man and a Woman sold 4,272,000 cinema tickets in France and was the 6th highest-grossing film of the year.
In the United States, the film earned the unprecedented amount (for a foreign film) of $14,000,000.
Lelouch: One-Film Director? Obsession with One Story? Recycling?
A sequel, A Man and a Woman: 20 Years Later (Un Homme et une Femme, 20 Ans Déjà) was released in 1986, followed by The Best Years of a Life, which was released in 2019.
Both sequels were artistic and commercial disappointments.
 

Oscar Context:

In 1966, A Man and A Woman competed against The Battle of Algiers from Italy’s Pontecorvio; Loves of a Blonde from Czech director Milos Forman; Pharaoh from Poland; and Three (aka as 3 Stories) from Yugoslavia.
 
Oscar Alert
 
Oscar Nominations: 4
 
Foreign Language Film
Director: Claude Lelouch
Actress: Anouk Aimee
Story and Screenplay (Original): Lelouch and Pierre Uytterhoeven
 
Oscar Awards: 2
 
Foreign Language
Story and Screenplay
 

Credits:

Produced, directed by Claude Lelouch
Written by Pierre Uytterhoeven; Lelouch (Uncredited)
Cinematography Claude Lelouch
Edited by Claude Barrois; Lelouch (Uncredited)

Music by Francis Lai
Production company: Les Films 13
Distributed by Allied Artists
Release date: July 12, 1966
Running time 102 minutes
Box office $14 million (domestic)