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Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost
Writing the ‘tradition of quality’
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Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost are best known as the foremost screenwriters of the French ‘tradition of quality’ lambasted by François Truffaut who bemoaned the ‘psychological realism’ of their films which he claimed had little to do with post-war France. This chapter looks again at the screenwriting of Aurenche and Bost and argues that the peculiarities and context of the so-called tradition of quality have been critically and academically neglected largely due to the auteurist orthodoxy established by New Wave critics. Aurenche and Bost collaborated on thirty feature films working with directors such as Yves Allégret, Jean Delannoy, René Clément and, most frequently, Claude Autant-Lara. Many of these films have been critically dismissed as emblematic of post-war stagnation and ‘academicism’. Focusing on their collaborations with Autant-Lara, this chapter draws on archival research that highlights the collective, contingent nature of their screenwriting, adaptation and filmmaking practices and reveals how these influential films were in fact firmly rooted in their times.

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