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The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)

The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups) (1959)



Average Rating: 9.3/10
Reviews Counted: 52
Fresh: 52 | Rotten: 0

A seminal French New Wave film that offers an honest, sympathetic, and wholly heartbreaking observation of adolescence without trite nostalgia.


Average Rating: 8.8/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 0

A seminal French New Wave film that offers an honest, sympathetic, and wholly heartbreaking observation of adolescence without trite nostalgia.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.3/5
User Ratings: 36,851

My Rating

Movie Info

For his feature-film debut, critic-turned-director François Truffaut drew inspiration from his own troubled childhood. The 400 Blows stars Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoine Doinel, Truffaut's preteen alter ego. Misunderstood at home by his parents and tormented in school by his insensitive teacher (Guy Decomble), Antoine frequently runs away from both places. The boy finally quits school after being accused of plagiarism by his teacher. He steals a typewriter from his father (Albert Remy) to finance

Mar 24, 1998

Zenith International Films

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All Critics (54) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (52) | Rotten (0) | DVD (20)

One of the first glistening droplets of the French New Wave.

April 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Seems forever young.

February 1, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
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Forget my curmudgeonly attitude and see it -- again, or for the first time -- for yourself.

September 27, 2007 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A remarkable confluence of talents are at work here.

September 27, 2007 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Distinguished by its intensity of feeling and freewheeling use of the wide-screen frame, the film ranks among Truffaut's best.

July 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An engaging, moving film.

July 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A rich and fascinating look at youth and its fleeting joys...

April 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Truffaut's ode to his childhood is an engrossing watch that is alluring in its simplicity and brilliant in its direction. It flows nicely at its own pace, never allowing melodrama to ruin its realistic and voyeuristic atmosphere.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

Truffaut brought a fresh and piercingly honest portrayal of troubled youth to the screen. In many ways, Antonie Doinel is not only the cinematic embodiment of Truffaut, but also the French New Wave as a whole.

June 7, 2010 Full Review Source:

Truffault's masterpiece. Timeless and true, heartbreakingly sad.

August 25, 2009 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

François Truffaut's iconoclastic feature debut and one of the most enduring examples of the French New Wave.

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4

What is there to say about The 400 Blows that hasn't already been said?

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

It's a cornerstone of the French New Wave, and one of the greatest movies about childhood, from anywhere, ever.

April 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Independent

Henri Decae's black and white photography helped Truffaut enormously but what the director himself provides is a sense that though there is no easy answer to the problems of growing up, there is a hope that will never be wholly denied.

April 17, 2009 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Vibrant, visually exciting and emotionally resonant.

April 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Distinguished by its naturalistic, quasi-documentary approach and an extraordinary central performance from the 12-year-old Jean-Pierre Léaud, this is a blisteringly authentic story.

April 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

It's streetwise stuff, shot in a vigorous on-the-hoof style, but also full of joy, both in its blissfully comic moments and in Doinel's telling passion for moviegoing.

April 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Alive with the joy of filmmaking for its own sake.

April 7, 2009 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The 400 Blows, one of the initiating sparks of the French New Wave, ultimately boils down to the film's trendsetting coda, perhaps the most exclamatory question mark in movies.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

An enduring masterpiece...Truffaut's autobiographical fiction shows an admirable equanimity by depicting the highs and lows of boyhood. [Blu-ray]

March 22, 2009 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

This should be required viewing for today's droves of would-be memoirsts in film or any other medium, and otherwise is simply a must for anybody who likes great movies.

August 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Audience Reviews for The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)

Francois Truffaut's directorial debut and great coming-of-age story 'The 400 Blows' stands as one of the best of its sub genre. With a great lead performance and assured direction, Truffaut handles this autobiographical film with remarkable ease and aesthetics. This film about a troubled youth growing up in Paris still stands as one that helped define the New Wave era in France.
January 31, 2013
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

Without a doubt, one of the best films ever made. This is Paris in 1968 before Paris in 1968. This is punk rock before punk rock, and what The Clash meant by "I wasn't born, so much as I fell out." This is New Wave before New Wave. This is existentialism, Camus from the mouth of babes. This is what Foucault was going on about in Discipline and Punish. This is the non-conformist spirit, at once made concrete and abstract. This is how it feels to be dispossessed, displaced, and dispirited. This is the un-coming-of-age story, the moment of the invention of the precise opposite of the cliche. This is On The Waterfront for the French, but better. This is the loneliness at the core of human existence, communicated better than in most art made before or since. This is one of the few films I will gush about rather than "objectively" pick apart. This is brilliant, visionary film-making, and a movie you absolutely must not die without having seen.
June 28, 2012

Super Reviewer

Most words are just too blank to define a film as mature, touching, poignant, and whole as THE 400 BLOWS. The film marks the directorial debut of François Truffaut, who worked prior to being a filmmaker as a film critic. At that, he goes beyond perfection. Though his screenplay, co-written with Marcel Moussy, is touched occasionally by what can be interpreted as light comedy, the main focus was as a crime-drama. The fact that this was not a nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 1959 Academy Awards is utterly baffling.
January 28, 2012

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Sie küßten und sie schlugen ihn (DE)
  • The Four Hundred Blows (Les Quatre cents coups) (UK)
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