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Frame by Frame

Les Mistons

François Truffaut’s breakthrough short Les Mistons (The Brats, 1957) is an idyllic film of summer, romance, childhood – and tragedy. As I noted in my essay on the film in Senses of Cinema 38, “François Truffaut’s Les Mistons was the director’s first short film of any real consequence. Truffaut had completed one short narrative film before in 16mm, Une Visite (1955), which had the distinction of being shot by Jacques Rivette and edited by Alain Resnais, both then members of the critical circle at Cahiers du Cinéma.

Une Visite was shot very simply in Jacques Doniol-Valcroize’s apartment, and was considered an experiment by all concerned, but all the participants in the project were dissatisfied with the results. Truffaut was subsequently working on the script that would become Les Quatre cents coups (1959), but found financing difficult to come by, and decided to go ahead with Les Mistons instead.”

It was a smart move; this moving, seemingly evanescent short film is one of Truffaut’s most romantic, and most personal works; you can read my essay here.

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About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of thirty books and more than 100 articles on film, and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. All comments by Dixon on this blog are his own opinions. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at or

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