The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups) (1959) - Rotten Tomatoes

The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)1959

The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups) (1959)



Critic Consensus: A seminal French New Wave film that offers an honest, sympathetic, and wholly heartbreaking observation of adolescence without trite nostalgia.

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Movie Info

"The 400 Blows" marks the birth of legendary nouvelle vague character Antoine Doinel; his is the story of a 13-year-old wild child whose adventures were based on director Francois Truffaut's own adolescence.

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Jean-Pierre Léaud
as Antoine Doinel
Patrick Auffay
as Rene Bigey
Claire Maurier
as Mme. Doinel
Albert Remy
as M. Doinel
Guy Decombie
as Teacher
Yvonne Claudie
as Mme. Bigey
Robert Beauvais
as Director of the School
Jeanne Moreau
as Woman with Dog
Marius Laurey
as Police Clerk
François Truffaut
as Man in Funfair
Claude Mansard
as Examining Magistrate
Jacques Monod
as Commissioner
Pierre Repp
as The English Teacher
Henri Virlojeux
as Night Watchman
Jean-Claude Brialy
as Man in street
Jacques Demy
as Policeman
Christian Brocard
as Man with Typewriter
Luc Andrieux
as Gym Teacher
Jean Douchet
as The lover
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Critic Reviews for The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)

All Critics (66) | Top Critics (24)

A portrait of the artist as an unhappy child.

January 6, 2022 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

[The 400 Blows'] most prevalent connection to the then burgeoning French New Wave is its message of freedom

March 18, 2019 | Full Review…

Truffaut brought a fresh and piercingly honest portrayal of troubled youth to the screen. In many ways, Antonie Doinel is not only the cinematic embodiment of Truffaut, but also the French New Wave as a whole.

June 7, 2010 | Rating: 90/100 | Full Review…

What is there to say about The 400 Blows that hasn't already been said?

April 23, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

It's a cornerstone of the French New Wave, and one of the greatest movies about childhood, from anywhere, ever.

April 17, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Henri Decae's black and white photography helped Truffaut enormously but what the director himself provides is a sense that though there is no easy answer to the problems of growing up, there is a hope that will never be wholly denied.

April 17, 2009 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)

In the decade or so since I first saw "Les Quatre cents coups" on that fateful day in film class, it has become one of those litmus test films, during which, I stress myself out anticipating my friends' reactions to the movie almost as much as watching the movie itself. Sad to say, perceptions change when watching films with different people and at different times of life and sometimes, when the denouement is known. As pure and as unadulterately awesome as that denouement is, with young Jean-Pierre Léaud's impressively improvised tales of Antoine's teenage woes and the endless run to the beach, the adagio and sometimes broken pacing of the rest of film seems to redeem itself only because of that ending. And perhaps also Jean Constantin's mesmerizing zither score.

Alice Shen
Alice Shen

Super Reviewer


Francois Truffaut's directorial debut and great coming-of-age story 'The 400 Blows' stands as one of the best of its sub genre. With a great lead performance and assured direction, Truffaut handles this autobiographical film with remarkable ease and aesthetics. This film about a troubled youth growing up in Paris still stands as one that helped define the New Wave era in France.

Kase Vollebregt
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

Without a doubt, one of the best films ever made. This is Paris in 1968 before Paris in 1968. This is punk rock before punk rock, and what The Clash meant by "I wasn't born, so much as I fell out." This is New Wave before New Wave. This is existentialism, Camus from the mouth of babes. This is what Foucault was going on about in Discipline and Punish. This is the non-conformist spirit, at once made concrete and abstract. This is how it feels to be dispossessed, displaced, and dispirited. This is the un-coming-of-age story, the moment of the invention of the precise opposite of the cliche. This is On The Waterfront for the French, but better. This is the loneliness at the core of human existence, communicated better than in most art made before or since. This is one of the few films I will gush about rather than "objectively" pick apart. This is brilliant, visionary film-making, and a movie you absolutely must not die without having seen.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

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