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Louis Sclavis

Louis Sclavis

Outside films like ‘Round Midnight and Mo’ Better Blues, in which jazz musicians are central characters, it is rare that a jazz soloist/composer makes an impact upon a film like Sonny Rollins did on Alfie or Gato Barbieri did on Last Tango in Paris. Arguably, a film’s dialogue places constraints on its score, which works against the expansive tendencies of a jazz artist. French clarinetist/composer Louis Sclavis was unencumbered by that limitation, however, in creating the score for Dans le Nuit.

One of the last silent films made in France, this strangely alluring 1930 story of tragically betrayed love foreshadowed French filmmakers spanning Jean Renoir and Jean Cocteau. The only film directed by its male lead, Charles Vanel-who decades later would shadow Cary Grant in Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief-Dans le Nuit employed bold camera movement and precious special effects. Its restoration and recirculation-a painstaking process championed by ‘Round Midnight director Bertrand Travernier, who engaged Sclavis to write and perform the score-is a major event in French cinema.

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