Made in USA [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1966]

Jean-Luc Godard was making his final break with his influences in American genre filmmaking when he produced Made In U.S.A., one of two films he shot at roughly the same time in 1966; it also preserved the final act of his relationship with actress, muse and one-time spouse Anna Karina, who had divorced him nearly two years before and would not work with him again. The film didn't receive a proper American release at the time thanks to legal issues (the film is very loosely based on a novel by Donald E. Westlake The Jugger, published under the pen name Richard Stark, and there were disagreements over the American literary rights), but the Criterion Collection has allowed American cinephiles to give the picture a careful study with this DVD release. Made In U.S.A. has been given a widescreen transfer to disc, letterboxed in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on conventional televisions and enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16:9 monitors. Raoul Coutard's cinematography is pin-sharp, with an eye-popping palate of primary colors (especially the vivid reds), and this transfer beautifully preserves the film's bold visual style, and was drawn from a flawless source print. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and the sound is nearly as crisp as the visuals. The dialogue is in French, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options. In addition to the feature, this edition includes on-camera interviews with actors Anna Karina and Laszlo Szabo, a discussion of the film's political and emotional focus featuring film historians Richard Brody and Colin MacCabe, the film's original theatrical trailer, and a short visual "concordance" that identifies the many literary and cultural references that appear in the movie. And finally, the booklet includes a fine essay by critic and columnist J. Hoberman. Made In U.S.A. is often overlooked in favor of the other feature Godard was shooting at the time, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, but it's a bold and vital work from one of Godard's most interesting periods, and Criterion's excellent DVD release gives film fans a chance to rediscover the picture (or perhaps investigate it for the first time).
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Overview

Special Features

  • Interviews with Stars Anna Karina and László Szabó
  • A Video piece on the Personal and the Political in Made In USA AND 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, Featuring Godard Biographers Richard Brody and Colin Maccabe
  • A Visual Essay Cataloging the Multiple References in the Film
  • Original and re-release theatrical trailers
  • New and Improved English Subtitle translation
  • Plus: An Essay by Film Critic J. Hoberman

Synopsis

Made in USA
Jean-Luc Godard directed this brightly colored, pop-art homage to American crime cinema, which somehow finds room for extended commentary on leftist politics and the corrupt nature of advertising. Paula Nelson (Anna Karina) is a mystery woman (Is she a reporter? Perhaps a spy?) who used to be involved with Richard, a man who is now an outspoken Communist and has been linked to the murder of a foreign agent. Paula wants to silence Richard before he starts making trouble for her, but she can't find much hard evidence that's he's still alive outside of a recently discovered tape recorder that plays his recorded rants on current political issues. While speaking with Typhus (Ernest Menzer), a small time hood who knows about Paula's relationship with Richard, shots ring out and suddenly Typhus is dead. As Paula tries to find a way to get rid of the body, she tries to discover who killed him and why, as a pair of lackadaisical hoods (Laszlo Szabo and Jean-Pierre Leaud) follow her around Paris. Filled with references to American genre cinema and dedicated to Samuel Fuller and Nicholas Ray, Made In U.S.A. was the last film Godard would make with his one-time wife and frequent collaborator Anna Karina, and it was filmed simultaneously with another feature Godard released in 1966, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her. The admittedly flimsy plot was loosely adapted from the novel The Jugger by Donald E. Westlake (published under the pseudonym Richard Stark); Westlake wasn't paid for the rights, and he prevented the film from being released in the United States until after his death in 2008. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Anna Karina
    Anna Karina - Paula Nelson
  • Jean-Pierre Léaud
    Jean-Pierre Léaud - Donald Siegel
  • Laszlo Szabo
    Laszlo Szabo - Richard Widmark
  • Image coming soon
    Kyoko Kosaka - Doris Mizoguchi
  • Image coming soon
    Jean-Pierre Biesse - Richard M. Nixon
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