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John Pym

John Pym is Associate Editor of Sight and Sound. A film, The Wandering Company, based on his book about the partnership of James Ivory, Ismail Merchant and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, was shown on Channel 4 last year.

Jungle Book

John Pym, 21 November 1985

The sun shines bright on the homely Victorine film studios in Nice. Meet Pamela is poised to go. Director Ferrand, however, is case-hardened; he knows that, on even such a straightforward programme-filler as this, compromise will be inevitable. Sure enough, the cat is disobedient. Increasingly dependent on the bottle, the actress playing the hero’s mother forgets her lines but stands on her dignity: ‘With Federico it was just – One, two three!’ The lab ruins a crowd scene. The producers grow fretful. An unexpected pregnancy disrupts the schedule and a fatal accident skewers the script. Of all modern films about the business of film-making, none catches its farcical absurdities and its universal atmosphere of overheated desperation so well, or so affectionately, as François Truffaut’s Day for Night. As a double-edged reminder that it is on the director’s broad shoulders that the success of the enterprise ultimately rests, and that it is only in his head that the complete formula is held, Truffaut cast himself as the abstracted but notably phlegmatic Ferrand.’

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