Made in USA

France 1966. Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Anna Karina, Jean-Pierre Léaud, László Szabó, Marianne Faithful, Yves Alfonso

One of the rarest features of Godard's peak period, Made in USA is a widescreen, movie-mad remake, of sorts, of Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep, featuring Anna Karina in the Bogart role. Karina (Godard’s soon-to-be ex-wife) plays Paula Nelson, a private-eye investigating the murder of a former lover in Atlantic City. The Big Sleep’s legendary plot, convoluted and impenetrable, finds its Godardian analogue in Made in USA's elliptical, self-reflexive, brilliantly polyphonic style — a dizzying pop-art clash of sounds and images, replete with wry observations on political violence and the "Coca-Colonization" of French life, nonsense dialogue, and eclectic music (including Marianne Faithful in a cameo). The film is dedicated to Nick Ray and Sam Fuller, and features characters named Aldrich, Widmark, and Siegel (as well as Nixon and McNamara). Funny, for all that, that Made in USA was made in the aftermath of Godard’s declaration that “Cinema is capitalism in its purest form ... There is only one solution, and that it to turn one’s back on the American cinema." “A Molotov cocktail of American pulp and Parisian paranoia ... Essential for those interested in watching the filmmaker take cinema to new levels of allusion and modernist game playing” (David Fear, Time Out New York). Colour, 35mm, in French with English subtitles. 90 mins.

 

REVIEWS

"A bright and jagged piece of the jigsaw puzzle of Mr. Godard’s career."

New York Times | full review

“Jean-Luc Godard's Made in U.S.A. is not the celluloid holy grail, but it's close enough.”

Village Voice | full review