The Last Metro

Other than his first three movie triumphs (The 400 Blows, Shoot the Piano Player and Jules and Jim), François Truffaut’s most lauded film is The Last Metro (1980), winner of multiple Césars (France’s Academy Award) and an actual Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film.

Set in Nazi-occupied Paris, Truffaut’s period-perfect homage to the theater takes place literally in a theater, the fictional Theatre Montmartre, as the troupe struggles to survive during the war, dodging Nazis, antisemitic critics and forbidden love affairs. The Jewish owner/director (Heinz Bennent) takes refuge in the basement while, above boards, his wife (Catherine Deneuve) is tempted by a new leading man (Gérard Depardieu). Deneuve and Depardieu, at the apex of their vibrant screen glamor, are Old Hollywood personified, but wily Truffaut throws in subtle movie homages all his own to tempt us. There’s reverence paid to Lubitsch’s classic wartime anti-Nazi comedy To Be or Not to Be (1942); Marcel Carné’s great period epic Children of Paradise (1945), filmed during the occupation away from German prying eyes and censors; and sweet air kisses to Jean Renoir’s colorful theater daydream The Golden Coach (1952).

7 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit $9.
Fri., Nov. 21, 7 p.m., 2014