Reel/Real Impact: Truffaut’s Day for Night: Cultural Status, Critical Status

Day for Night is one of two Truffaut films featured on Time magazine’s list of the 100 Best Films of the Century, along with Truffaut’s striking 1959 debut, The 400 Blows, a seminal film of the French New Wave.


Day for Night is considered to be one of the most charmingly detailed movies about the very process of filmmaking.

In contrast, Truffaut’s colleague and New Wave co-founder leader Jean-Luc Godard charged Truffaut of making a film that was “dishonest,” because the scenario excluded the personal problems of the director himself (Truffaut). 


Truffaut responded with a letter critical of Godard, and the two former friends had a major falling out and never met again.  Truffaut died of brain cancer in 1984, at the young age of 52.

The film was screened out of competition at the 1973 Cannes Film Fest (many felt it should have been in the main competition)

Day for Night won the 1974 BAFTA Award for Best Film and the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.


Vet Italian actress Valentina Cortese was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, for playing an aging and alcoholic actress who does not remember her lines and cannot master her exits and entrances, even with huge cue cards. Instead, Ingrid Bergman undeservedly won the kudo for a tiny role in Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express; Bergman herself was shocked and expressed disappointment with the Academy.

Truffaut earned his first and only legit nomination for the Best Director Oscar Award.


The film also received awards for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Valentine Cortese from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.