Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez sur le pianiste) (1962)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Francois Truffaut's loving homage to Hollywood gangster films is less a plot-filled film noir than a free-associative meditation on the genre. Charles Aznavour stars as a one-time concert pianist who gained fame as Edouard Saroyan but has since changed his name to Charlie Kohler and plays honky-tonk in an out-of-the-way saloon. His self-imposed exile is shattered by the appearance of his mobster brother Richard Saroyan (Jacques Aslanian). Richard and his other brother, Chico (Albert Remy), are on the lam from gangsters they've double-crossed. Charlie helps Richard and Chico get away, but he now finds that his life, along with his younger brother Fido's (Richard Kanayan, has been put into jeopardy, having gotten mixed up with gangsters Momo (Claude Mansard) and Ernest (Daniel Boulanger) who are pursuing Richard and Chico. Momo and Ernest keep an eye on Charlie's apartment and, although they don't get Fido, they manage to kidnap Charlie and Lena (Marie Dubois), a co-worker with whom he has fallen in love. But when Ernest runs a red light and is pulled over, Charlie and Lena escape the gangsters' clutches. They take refuge in Lena's apartment, where Charlie sees a poster for a performance by Edouard Saroyan, causing Charlie to think back upon the circumstances that had led him to this moment in his life. Lena and Charlie make love, and Charlie returns to his apartment, only to discover Fido has been kidnapped. Lena and Charlie then head back to his club, where they plan to quit their jobs and try to find Fido. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama , Mystery & Suspense , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection

Watch it now


Charles Aznavour
as Charlie Kohler
Nicole Berger
as Theresa
Michele Mercier
as Clarisse
Albert Remy
as Chico Saroyan
Jean-Jacques Aslanian
as Richard Saroyan
Richard Kanayan
as Fido Saroyan
Serge Davri
as Plyne
Claude Heymann
as Lars Schmeel
Alex Joffé
as Passerby
Alice Sapritch
as Concierge
Boby Lapointe
as Singer
Jean-Jacques Aslanian
as Richard Saroyan
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez sur le pianiste)

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (9)

Made with enthusiasm and audacity, it still seems fresh.

Full Review… | September 23, 2015
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Often overlooked, Truffaut's wonderful second film stars Charles Aznavour, master of the chanson, in his only collaboration with the director.

November 16, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

A distinctively postwar Parisian creation, coldblooded and sentimental and wounded and whimsical, all at the same time.

Full Review… | July 6, 2010
Top Critic

Truffaut leaves too much that is not clear as he concentrates on individual scenes.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

Universally considered a masterpiece of the film noir genre.

Full Review… | October 22, 2008
New York Observer
Top Critic

The determined jollity of Georges Delerue's saloon piano score, which later opens up to encompass a wide world of romanticism, sets the tone for Francois Truffaut's audacious second feature, made in 1960.

October 17, 2008
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez sur le pianiste)


Applying all the techniques from the French New Wave, Truffaut's 'Shoot the Piano Player' combines unique wit and thrills that coerce into a solidly original work.

Kase Vollebregt
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

A second from François Truffaut, Shoot The Piano Player boldly shoots how the past haunts the present and shall continuously pester the future. Crime, drama, romance, and mystery right on target.

Jan Marc Macababayao
Jan Marc Macababayao

Super Reviewer

A heavily noir influenced crime drama about the inability to escape your past. For only his second feature, this film feels bold and mature. While it is much more stylized than his debut, it still retains a lot of the heart that made the 400 Blows so good.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez sur le pianiste) Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez sur le pianiste) on our Movie forum!

News & Features