Le cinéma du samedi soir
Michel Audiard’s screenplays and cult dialogue
in Screenwriters in French cinema
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Michel Audiard is a prolific French screenwriter and dialogue writer. Between 1948 and 1984, he wrote the dialogue for around 130 films and twenty full screenplays. He also directed nine films, but – like Jeanson – his main talent resided in the conception of polished dialogue for specific actors, thus populating stories that were frequently written or adapted by established authors. His fictional worlds bring to life a gallery of colourful characters, interpreted by national (and sometimes international) film stars with strong personas (Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura, Jean-Paul Belmondo …). The chapter investigates Audiard’s screenwriting practices including his role in the consolidation of the use of dialogue as a major element of French popular post-war cinema. It focuses on particular cult comedies, crime stories and spoof gangster films from the late 1950s and 1960s coinciding with the emergence of the New Wave. It identifies Audiard’s ‘family’ at different stages of his career: the writing teams, directors and actors who contributed to the writing process in various ways and some of the features of dialogue that define his polished signature style. It also addresses his impact on screenwriter visibility and his legacy as a dialogue writer.

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