‘Breathless’ in Paris and L.A.

MICHEL OR JESSE, WHO’S BETTER?

Cold lonely day in exurban New York, a day to stay inside and watch movies. I checked out the French and American versions of ‘Breathless,’ the iconic movie about a small-time thief who steals a car and impulsively murders a policeman.

Hunted by the police, the anti-hero, Michel, in the French film, and Jesse, in the American, hooks up with a girlfriend and tries to get her to run away with him to, in Michel’s case, Italy, and with Jesse, to Mexico. 

The original 1960 French production with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg and directed by Jean-Luc Godard is regarded as the one true authentic version, with all the mood and atmosphere of classic French cinema.

Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg on the boulevard.

THE AMERICAN VERSION 

The 1983 American version with Richard Gere and Valerie Kaprisky and directed by Jim McBride is seen as crass and unsophisticated.

Gere’s character gyrates to Jerry Lee Lewis, and reads ‘Silver Surfer’ comic books, while Godard’s version moves smoothly to jazz and classical music.

Richard Gere reads the ‘Silver Surfer’ to Valerie Kaprisky.

All that may be true — although I don’t agree — but when it comes to the very last shot in the final scene, the American version, in my opinion, is far more dramatic than the French ending.

Gere grabbing the gun and spinning around to fire and — FREEZE FRAME —- as Jerry Lee Lewis belts out the song.  Great last shot! Super-dramatic, and romantic as hell.

Valerie Kaprisky is way more warm and sexy than cold, aloof, unsexy Jean Seberg. And throughout the movie, I found Gere’s character to be more likable and endearing than the obnoxious punk Belmondo portrays.

But back to that last scene. The French ending is similar to the American, with the hapless anti-hero picking up the gun that was tossed onto the road for him. 

But the last shot doesn’t have that killer of a moment when Gere spins around with the gun — FREEZE FRAME — roll credits as Jerry Lee Lewis pounds out the song ‘Breathless.’

THE TWO VERSIONS COMPARED HERE

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37 thoughts on “‘Breathless’ in Paris and L.A.

  1. Hey Mich, are you still here with me? I shared Turkey Day up^ at the neighbors house, great meal, great day, I played my drums for them & they joined in with me! I also decorated myself like a Christmas Tree, Lights all over my body, battery powered, I put on a great show! Who says Old Farts have to be dead? I brought 5 bottles of wine with me and they drank it all……

      1. Hey, Mich, I hope your day was not Lonely, all by yourself, brother if you had been here we could have shared our day together; do Not drink yourself to death at least until we get a chance to meet each other! Your note told me you spent this day Alone, man I feel sad for you, it is terrible to sit home alone with the booze, oh! I am drunk now also, but at least today I shared company with my neighbors…….

      2. Don’t worry about me, man. I may sound soft-hearted in some of my morbid posts, but constant death has hardened my heart. (That sounds like a song I heard once.) Last Thanksgiving I shared with Susan and I gave thanks she was still alive. Three weeks later she died, and I said to this life: Fuckit!

  2. Hey! Mich, still kicking? I finally heard from Susan’s Anal-retentive daughter, and what did she have to say? How to pay the phone and electric bills, which I had already taken care of! Nothing about their plans for this house, or me, so still in LIMBO……I asked her what was the Infinite Plan? I am sure to get some snide reply, since I dared to mention that in my 35 years with her, only one of her four kids ever bothered to come by for a visit with her. I twice payed for her to go out-side and visit her kids, and included pocket money so she would not feel dependent on them to provide for her, but I am the “Bad Guy” Every Christmas I wrote out the cards, enclosed a nice check for their kids, but Fuck you Grand-pa! People remember the Evil, but they quickly forget the Good! Stay loose Brother, we will out-live them all!

  3. Actually,Mich, I really like that 100 proof Yukon Jack, But too much of it leaves me totally incapable of Rational thought…..I try to be Coherent in my writings, does not always work, but I have a lot of folk commenting, so it cannot be all bad!

    1. Yo, brother, I’ve had the pleasure of Yukon Jack myself, but as you say, 100-proof can knock you out. As for your writing, as I’ve said, your writing, man, is powerful stuff, so natural and real and honest, a welcome relief in this day and age of total horseshit.

      1. Brother Mich, I try to tell it like I see it, Cut through the Propaganda. My older sister just sent me this Great Cartoon–Don’t Piss off old people, the older we get the less “Life in Prison” is a deterrent! Many years ago I was a “Guest” in a North Carolina Prison system and got thrown into “Solitary Confinement”, guess what? I did so many sit-up^s and push-up^s, I came out a lot stronger than I went in! I just do it One Day at a time, because that is all we have, I pinch myself to recognize that I am still alive in this Present Moment, because that is all we have, all the rest is History, or a future not yet knowable……Good to hear from YOU,Brother……Still waiting to hear from the Children……

      2. Hey, man, I just woke and read your line that gave me the first laugh of the day (and I ain’t been laughing much lately): “The older we get the less “Life in Prison” is a deterrent!” Ha-ha, dead on, and something to think about if…
        Your N.C. stay I guess you didn’t see much of the environs — Susan and I lived in that state (one of many) for a while many years ago, Raleigh, in a heavily wooded area — good time (while you did hard time). One day, over Yukon Jack, you can tell me about your outlaw past.

      3. Well Mich, up^ at 5 am, I had a wonderful eye doctor install new lenses? in my eyes and man, I never realized how much I was missing, so I will LOOK and you will LISTEN, that way we will be like one person! You know that I am a Vietnam Vet, Recon Machine gunner, but I saw early on that that war was a big LIE, so I sent thousands of bullets over the heads of the so-called enemy, Light show with the tracer bullets. We were Invaders, and they were little guys with a sack of rice, and an old world war one rifle, and we a modern army, guess who won? I admired their toughness in the face of overwhelming odds…..I back-packed and hitch-hiked all over the West, and never waited more than ten minutes for a ride, met only the nicest people, got taken out to dinner, invited into homes, given the Scenic View, Reaffirmed my faith in the basic goodness of ordinary, everyday people! Even today I can stick my thumb out on a basically deserted road and a ride will appear! One day Susan and I were driving back to Anchor Point, and a Freeze Plug popped out, in five minutes a guy stopped to help, drove me to the parts store in Homer, waited until I got the freeze plug installed, and refused my offer of $50.00, and went on his way…..There is hope for us yet! Many people do not believe in Magic, but I sure do! Have a nice day, my friend! George

      4. George, I was just thinking about you. I got that book The River Why, reading it now, took a look at the last page, it’s true, You ARE this book, the cabin, the river, the godliness (not of a mythical “God”) of the Earth, the sun, the moon, rivers that talk to us (as the author puts it), the oceans that sing and the mountains that walk — my god (small g) man, what a book! And you are the Man, man, you and Jin Harrison and now this guy David James Duncan who I didn’t know about before you told me about the book.
        And, yeah, bloody Vietnam, shooting over their heads, brilliant— I recently re-watched Apocalypse Now, blows your fucking mind! Did you get drafted by the lottery, crazy fucking general picking. Birthdates out of a barrel. Hell, give me a trout stream any day — even though, dammit, I don’t fish, always been a goddam city sucker— but you know what? those days are about to end—I left it late but there may still be time.

      5. Hell no Mich, I was a brain-washed Gung-Ho red blooded American, Plus I could not find a job, in Huston, Texas, So I signed up for three years, and volunteered for Vietnam, what did I know? Nothing, that is what I knew! So the military taught me that the purpose of the Bayonet was to “Kill”, What-ever country people who did not kow-tow to the good old USA; It is still our status-Quo…..Why are we spending 750 + Billion bucks on war and weapons? Because we believe that it is WE who rule the World! We desperately need to find some leaders who go above the call of duty, (or feathering their own nest). Common Sense is sorely lacking in this present day of life on Earth……Many people have given up^ the right to think for them-selves….So Sad…..

      6. George, those “leaders” you speak of don’t exist in this country at this time—you’ll find ‘em in DC comics, but they ain’t in D.C. Look at the embarrassing fux running for Prez—politics! Fuckit—as I’ve said anarchy is preferable. Hey, are you orig. from Texas. Luv that state!

      7. Do you mind if i ask a question, dear Sir ? How would you describe the feeling(s) of being in a battle ?

        Ps : Please, Sir, do not answer, if you don’t wish to. Thank you, though.

      8. Hey Brother Mich, I have not heard a word from Susan’s kids in two weeks, they just ignore my e-mails, it is like I am dead to them now, so in Limbo here, 6 AM here, sitting, sipping, waiting for I do not know what…..Tossing another log on the fire every two hours, I got some coal in, so that helps with still having coals in the fire when I awaken, got invited to Turkey day feast by my good neighbors, who tonite dropped off a piece of pie & Ice Cream, + a bowl of Speggiti & meatballs….She just returned from a four week trip to visit with her friends….Those good neighbors saved my life, because I had decided to starve myself to death, after the loss of Susan, I lost 15 lbs. Brother, I ate nothing for 3 + weeks! Just lived on booze, Well we shall see, I have a lot of patience, and it is being tried for sure…..

      9. The parallels between our lives keep stretching further. As you probably know I have no immediate family still living, only “extended family” of nephews and nieces and their children who never visit and seldom phone. I have given up on them. As for turkey day I don’t know any neighbors, I may go down County Road 9 to the Roadkill Bar & Grille and have a turkey sandwich with my old friend Jack Daniels, but I guess I’ll just stay in the bungalow with the cat and drink to the last T’giving Susan and I had—last year. She was gone by Christmas. Basically I’ve said to life: Fuckyou! But the sun is shining today and I am sitting in it and in four hours I’ll hit the gin. Always good to hear from you, my northern brother.

  4. Are we still alive Mich? Just had a neighbor drive me to town for a shower, and to do a little shopping, he was sure patient with me, as I had some time consuming things to do…..Good Neighbors are worth their weight in Coal, not gold, gold is a useless inert metal, that people hoard in vaults, after ripping it out of the earth at great cost, currently it takes a ton of ore, crushed to dust, poisoned forever, to extract 1/6 of an ounce of gold, and for what? It ain’t edible, it does not burn, all it does is sit there, it will still be in those vaults long after humans are gone…..How totally stupid we humans are! Still drinking? I had to cut back to just night-times, I could not function at all, so now I just sit here on this machine and sip away

    1. Hey brother, you’re awake at 2:20 am, huh? I was jolted out of sleep by a dream, just posted it, my way of dealing with it, shameful or not. Yeah, good neighbors, I never got to know any of mine in the three years of being a caregiver. Now I know what to give you for Christmas—a lump of coal. Ha-ha. Drinking? Oh, yeah, need it! When people ask me if I have a drinking problem, I say that old joke: No, I pretty well got it down!

      1. Mich,nice to hear from you, actually it is 3:47 AM here and I am just typing away, just wrote a new blog dissing the Rich, my third one on that subject, I am trying to Shame them into being real human beings, instead of Greed Monsters…..So, we are both still missing our Susan’s, mine got me in line 10 years ago, I Quit drinking and became Coffee Man! Well, she is gone, and I can drink all I want! I am 74, who gives a F–K? Ain’t nothing I can do to change this weirdo world. I got my wood in for the winter, but I am still waiting on my unreliable coal man to show up^……I just wrote a post on the Rich, dissing them, shaming them, and already got a reply from alert reader “American Daze Purple Haze….Is that YOU?

      2. Yep that’s me. I’m alert for now. The day will take its toll. And then it’ll be cocktail hour. I got a year on you (75) and we are of like mind on many subjects, esp, the fckng rich!
        (That little logo pic, I dunno why but my picture has disappeared for some reason.)

      3. Well, Mich, I just sucked down a big bowl of super nice weed, and am sipping on my wine/Vodka combo, Is weed still Illegal where you are? The “Legal” stores here are super-expensive because of all the taxes levied on them, I got my last big bag, from my local wood-man, who grows his own, super nice, and I will not run out of it for awhile, ten times more than I could have bought in the legal store, for 1/10th of the money……I am having as good a time as is possible for me, finding people like you to communicate with on this net, being deaf is no fun, my music I loved is gone from me…..So Sad….I have maybe 10% of one ear left, so no Stereo, just mostly the Bass man, cannot hear any of the sung words. And most music on You-Tube has no “Closed Captions” I make music on these wooden 12 & 8 Tongued drums I bought, Great craftsman ship in the making of them. Some-thing to do, to occupy the time, learn how to do something new…..I like to think I picked the perfect logo for these times…..The whole logo reads, “I hate to tell you this, but you’re all illegal aliens!” TTYL

      4. Yeah, I’ve always liked the logo on your blog, so true, whitey exterminated as many native Americans as they could and now they rape the land, as you’ve said.
        You’re lucky to be in a state where weed is legal, ain’t legal in NY, the stinking politicians here ban everything, they won’t even let you have a gun to protect yourself on the mean streets, while they of course are protected by armed bodyguards — ain’t nothing I hate more than politicians, lowest form of life and never believe one who says he wants to do good for the country — bullshit!— all they want is to line their pockets and feed their goddamn ego.
        I’m sorry about your deafness, man, I’m half blind, so maybe together, we make a whole person, ha-ha.

      5. Good one, Brother Mich, I may just decide to adopt you, if I can ever finish up^ with Susan’s relatives, two old dudes drinking & doddering around. The first and only rule of politics is: Feather YOUR OWN NEST! Page back through my posts and read EGO!

  5. Mich, I have to get up^ off my ass and empty the slop’s bucket, and haul in some wood, and then I am done for today, my neighbors are wonderful people, they just delivered me this huge slice of Cake, gave me a hug, played the many tongued drums with me! I am stoned out of my gourd on Vodka and Wine combo……What the F–k is this all about? Let me settle with Susan’s kids and then get on an air-plane and join me, I could use a good friend about now! I vowed never to board another air-plane as the last time I flew, they treated me as if I was a Criminal, Me, A Veteran of Vietnam!

  6. Since my Lady Susan refused to Marry me, because of her ex-husbands bad deeds, Her kids are trying to sell this place to me, if I buy it you could just come and live with me, two old fuddy duddies, sharing the good times! Then we could talk together, without all of this typing! I have this place set up^ to run like a clock, all I have to do is remember to toss another log in the fire. Of course we do not have; hot water heater, I use the wood stove & the Gas stove for that, no micro-wave, no T.V., no toilet, just a shit bucket that I empty into an out-house I built, it may take some getting used to, but if I can do it. The only bills I have are my now useless phone (I am Deaf) the phone was for Susan, and the Electric bill which is under $100.00 a month…..About every two weeks I drive into Homer to take care of business, take a shower, do laundry, go to the Cosmic Kitchen and order 4 or 5 meals, so I do not have to cook so much. The last time I went I hired a taxi driver for the whole day, I was too hung-over to drive, had a really good driver, I tripled his fee as a tip! When Susan’s anal retentive daughter came to get her, they took all of the guns, which I could give a shit about, because I was a “Convicted Felon” From over 50 years ago! People never cease to amaze me with their petty-mindedness!, Well, get back to me with your thoughts on this! And remember Complexity proceeds to Simplicity in the Light of Understanding……George

    1. Northern Brother. That’s one helluva of an idea, living like that guy in Farley Mowat’s ‘Never Cry Wolf’ — in the wilds in a wood-stove-heated cabin with no modern amenities, wolves and bears rattling the door. Man that’d be a complete reversal of my current exurban-New-York life. After my Susan died people told me don’t stay and brood in that old house you shared together, make a change, live somewhere else, start anew. If I told ‘em I was going to Alaska to live in a log cabin they’d shit in that bucket of yours. Ha-ha-ha! My electric bill is $400 a month! I’d sure as hell save some money. More money for vital fluids — the shelves would be stacked with 80-proof Southern and Northern comfort, and gin and vodka and tequila and (yes, dammit!) rum.

  7. Brother, Rum will leave YOU with a Nasty Hang-over! My perfect combination is:2 shots of Vodka, 1/2 glass of Carbernet Sauvignon, 1 dash of Kahlua, almost as good as Pot, No hang-over! I just sip on it all night long, while I am writing this I am two glasses along! Plus I just had some good smoke provided to me by a Friend! I am going to Play on My Drums, just because I can! All day long, I took care of business, the night belongs to Me!

    1. I’ll make that drink tonight, already have the vodka and today will get the Kahlua and Sauvignon—which I would normally not drink, not much of a wine drinker (Susan was the wine drinker—cocktail hour our favorite time of the day) but I’ll try it in the AlaskaManSpecial. Sure as hell could use the “smoke” too but hard to get in this hed-up-ass state — hell, politicians here won’t even let you protect yourself with a damn gun, you pay big taxes for shit—every day I think of moving.

  8. Well, I cannot comment on the movies,, Since I went deaf 30 years ago have only been to one and it was just frustrating not being able to hear the dialog, and no closed captions. Spent my day trying to hook up a new computer only to give it up, I had Carbonite service and stupidly thought they would just download everything, ha, ha, just files, none of the important stuff like my sites, my bottom line whatever they call that strip at the bottom of the page, all gone, I just went back to my old one. All of my e-mail suites were lost, what a stinky day. I do not know why we cannot just link the computers with a cord and transfer every-thing! It does look like a good movie! TTYL George

      1. Hey! Mich, still on the waiting list, still no word from the kids, any of the four of them, like I never was, like I do not even exist here, me, with 35 years of caring for their Mom, whom they could not be bothered to even visit once in all my time here! Wish me Luck brother, my patience is sorely tried…..

      2. Hard to understand why they don’t get in touch — you’re getting pretty well known now, with your blog and the great words you speak.

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