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TURN-ONS AND TURN-OFFS IN CURENT HOME ENTERTAINMENT RELEASES : Excellent Good Fair Poor : VIDEOCASSETTES

August 26, 1986|MICHAEL WILMINGTON | Compiled by Terry Atkinson

"The 400 Blows." Key. $59.98. Francois Truffaut's semiautobiographical debut feature (made in 1959, when he was 29) was one achievement he never topped: It is by far the best of all his films dealing with children. Truffaut gives us the sad part of his boyhood here: tyrannical teachers, loveless parents, a roguish buddy, petty theft and, finally, reform school and escape. Jean-Pierre Leaud (then 14) for the first time plays surrogate Antoine Doinel, and the whole film crystallizes Truffaut's style: elliptic, nimble, swift, racing from scene to scene--just as Antoine keeps racing ahead until, in an unforgettable final image, his face turns back toward us, by the edge of the sea.

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