As Louis Malle was to himself admit, he once held complex cultural affinities with the radical right-wing, although these were in themselves subtle and ambiguous connections. This chapter discusses Ascenseur pour l'echafaud, Les Amants, and Le Feu follet in the light of this admission. It also offers an opportunity to analyse Malle's political journey from the cultural right-wing to the libertarian left, to explain how Le Souffle au coeur marked a radical break with the 1950s by speaking of that era through a comic mode. A brief résumé of the basic plots of Les Amants, Vie privée, or Le Feu follet confirm Malle's propensity for active pessimism. The conservative portrayal of women in his cinema remained relatively stable throughout the oeuvre. Malle's films of the 1950s converged with the world of the extreme right-wing literary tradition, often loosely defined as 'the Hussard' movement.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers memory as a specific framework for the study of popular film, intervening in growing debates about the status and function of memory in cultural life and discourse. It examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The book explores the political stakes of cinematic discourse in its production of national memory. It also examines the discursive and institutional apparatus that has come to support the memory of Classic Hollywood in British cultural life. The book also considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory.