best film:   Jules and Jim. Jules and Jim is simply one of the crown jewels of the French New Wave on top of being one of the best films of all-time (currently sits at #19).  That ranking makes it the single highest rated film of the French New Wave, Truffaut’s career, and the best film from a French director. This category strengthens Moreau’s case.

best performance:   Jules and Jim. Moreau is transcendent in Truffaut’s masterpiece as Catherine. Catherine is mercurial and Moreau dominates when she is on screen (sorry and all due respect to Oskar Werner and Henri Serre). If one combines this with the paragraph above one is left with an all-time performance worthy of praise and appreciation. The film does not work if the viewer fails to fall in love with Moreau- like Jules, Jim (and Truffaut) clearly do.


I am picking a favorable place to start for Moreau’s case here- but if one looks at the best twenty films of all-time- only Falconetti, Maggie Cheung, and Janet Gaynor give performances on this level by a female actor.


stylistic innovations/traits:  Thanks to Truffaut, Jules and Jim, those sublime freeze frames on her, the running scene dressed as a man- Moreau is a permanent fixture of art cinema and the French New Wave. But Moreau, with seventeen (17) archiveable films is far from a one-hit wonder. She was actually clipping along fine before the New Wave in the late 1950s and early 1950s.  Her work with Malle is proof of that and she is superb in Elevator to the Gallows. Yet, her trajectory changed clearly with the rise of Truffaut’s star. She would go on to work with Antonioni, Bunuel and Demy as well in the early 1960s. All told, twelve (12) of her archiveable films are between 1958 and 1965.  Moreau could play Deneuve’s deadpan calm beauty (The Bride Wore Black)—but also could express and animate (beyond what her blonde French counterpart Catherine Deneuve could) as well as anyone this side of Giulietta Masina.


unlike Deneuve or Karina- Moreau was established before the French New Wave- here in Elevator to the Gallows


directors worked with: François Truffaut (3), Louis Malle (3), Orson Welles (2)… and then once a piece with Michelangelo Antonioni, Jacques Demy, Luis Bunuel and a quick cameo with Jean-Luc Godard.


Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni at the absolute height of their powers in the early 1960s- from La Notte


top ten performances:

  1. Jules and Jim
  2. Elevator to the Gallows
  3. La Notte
  4. The Bride Wore Black
  5. The Lovers
  6. Diary of a Chambermaid
  7. Bay of Angels
  8. Monte Walsh
  9. Chimes at Midnight
  10. The Train


Moreau gives one of the best performances of the year three times in a five year stretch- 1958, 1961 and 1962- here from La Notte again



archiveable films

1954- Touchez Pas au Grisbi
1958- Elevator to the Gallows
1958- The Lovers
1959- The 400 Blows
1961- A Woman is a Woman
1961- La Notte
1962- Jules and Jim
1962- The Trial
1963- Bay of Angels
1963- The Fire Within
1964- Diary of a Chambermaid
1964- The Train
1965- Chimes at Midnight
1968- The Bride Wore Black
1970- Monte Walsh
1976- The Last Tycoon
1990- La Femme Nikita