The Classic Great Films Of France - Buy DVDs of the best for French Cinema

Josiane Balasko

Gazon Maudit (aka French Twist) (1995). Victoria Abril, Josiane Balasko, Alain Chabait, Ticky Holgado.
Husband and wife have affairs on the side with hilarious results.

Jean-Jacques Beineix

Betty Blue (1986). Béatrice Dalle, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Gérard Darman.
A painter novelist sunning himself in Gruissan, near Narbonne, finds love in unpredictable Betty Blue, and they discover the cruelty of art, reflecting in their lifestyles

Diva (1982). Frederic Andrei, Richard Bohringer.
Opera mad messenger boy get involved in thriller, with missing tapes, mistaken identities, and the voice of Diva Wilhelminia Wiggins Fernandez

Claude Berri

Jean de Florette.(1986) Yves Montand, Gerard Depardieu
The film to linger in and enjoy the drama of Pagnol

Manon of the Spring.(1986) Yves Montand, Emmanuelle Beart
The sequel - these two films haunt one like almost no other French Film. Considered by Siskel and Ebert to be Number 4 in the Best Films of the World

Bernardo Bertolucci

Last Tango in Paris.(1973) Marlon Brando, Maria Shneider, Jean-Pierre Léaud.
Brando adores and degrades an anonymous Maria Shneider in Paris in empty rooms, industrial angst, and romantic dancehalls.

Bertrand Blier

Tenue de soirée (1986). Gerard Depardieu, Michel Blanc, MiouMiou
Monique will do anything for a life of luxury. Antoine will do anything to avoid losing Monique. Then Bob appears. He will do anything for the love ....of Antoine.

Merci Ia vie (1994). Charlotte Gainsbourg, Anouk Grinberg
Two friends, one innocent and one adventurous, set off on the road together to explore life.

Bertrand Boar

Préparez vos mouchoirs (Get Out Your Handkerchiefs) (1978). Gérard Depardieu, Patrick Dewaere, Carole Laure, Riton, Michel Serrault.
Reoul, presents his wife with a lover, after finding her unresponsive sexually.

Catherine Breillat

36 fillette (Virgin) (1988). Deiphine Zentout, Etienne Chicot.
14 year old Lili, on a family camping holiday, accepts a car ride from a balding Maurice. Later they met at a night club, and a mating ritual begins.

Luis Buñuel

Belle de Jour.(1967). Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel
A bored surgeon's wife spends the afternoons working in a high class brothel. A collage of surrealist images with a whirlwind of degenerate desires

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972). Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig
A South American ambassador and his five friends try to have dinner together, but are unable to do so, interrupted by steadily more and more absurd events.

Diary of a Chambermaid (1964). Jeanne Moreau, Michel Piccoli, Geirges Geret
Octave Mirbeau story of a servant girl who looked through keyholes, in a society of fetishists.

That Obscure Object of Desire (1977). Fernando Rey, Carole Bouquet, Angela Molina, Julien Bertheau
Buñuel's last film story of a businessman who is so obsessed with the maid Conchita that he fails to notice that she's played by 2 different actresses, and he finds himself helplessly ensnared in her erotic web

Tristana.(1970). Catherine Deneuve, Fernando Rey
A great Buñuel, set in 1930s Toledo, about an elderly free-thinking guardian (Rey) who seduces/rapes his young ward Tristana (Deneuve) but is unable to completely possess her, even after the amputation of her legs confines her to his house.

The Milky Way. Laurent Terzieff, Paul Frankeur, Delphine Seyrig, Edith Scob, Bernard Verlay
Two tramps on a humorous pilgrimage to Santiago di Compostella, complete with Buñuel's blasphemous and abrasive views of the Catholic dogma.

The Phantom of Liberty (1974). Michel Piccoli, Jean-Claude Brialy, Monica Vitti, Milena Vukotic
His most free film, surveying human absurdities in all their richness and unpredictability

Marcel Camus

Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) (1959) Breno Mello, Marpessa Dawn, Adhemar Da Silva.
Orpheus, a tramcar conductor, is engaged to exuberant Mirt but in love with Eurydice. Pursued by Death and the vengeful Mirt, the lovers story is in the midst of carnival Rio.

Marcel Carné

Quai des Brumes (1938). Jean Gabin, Michèle Morgan, Michel Simon.
Jean Gabin is a cynical army deserter who falls in love with idealistic, trench coated Michèle Morgan, and tries to take her from her guardian Michel Simon.

Le Jour Se Leve (1939). Jean Gabin, Arletty, Jules Berry.
Jean Gabin is a murderer held at bay in a Paris Tenement. Screenplay by Jacques Prévert.

Claude Chabrol

La Ceremonie (1995). Isabelle Huppert, Jacqueline Bisset.
The new housekeeper seems perfectly normal until she meets the post mistress and local gossip (Isabelle Huppert).

L'Enfer (1994). Emanuelle Béart, François Cluzet.
Cluzet and Béart seem the perfect couple, but their marriage is rotting away, thanks to his obsessive jelousy. Thriller.

Patrice Chereau

L'homme blesse (1983). Jean-Hugues Anglade, Liza Kreuzer, Vittono Mezzogiorno.
In the heat of Summer, Henry, a 16-year-old boy, meets an unusual man, Bosmans, and Jean, a boy, who fascinates him and bends him to his will...

René Clément

La bataille du rail (Battle of the Rails)(1946) Tony Laurent, Lucien Desagneux, Robert Leray.
A study of World War resistance among Breton rallwaymen, using non-professional actors and natural locations. This winner of the Cannes Film Festival is advanced in documentary style.


Les Diaboliques (1955). Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot, Paul Meurisse.
Wife and mistress of villanous headmaster at seedy boys school plot to murder him.

Le salaire de la peur (1953). Yves Montand, Charles Vane, Folco Lulli
In a sleazy South American town, 4, living on the edge risk their lives transporting two truckloads of TNT over treacherous terrain to an distant oilfield.

Cyril Collard

Les nuits fauves (Savage Nights) (1992). Cyril Collard, Romane Bohringer.
Jean is 30 and lives with 17-year-old Laura. He lives a promiscuous lifestyle, and becomes HIV-positive.

Henri Colpi

Une aussi longue absence IThe Long Absence) (1961) Alida Valli, Georges Wilson, Jacques Harden.
The owner of a parisian café, meets a tramp who could be her husband who disappeared 15 years before in the war.

Jacques Demy

Les parapluies de Cherbourg (1964) Catherine Deneuve, Nino Castelnuovo, Anne Vernon.
Deneuve is in love with a poor mechanic, she becomes pregnant, he leaves for military service. After he leaves she is nudged into marriage by her mother with a diamond merchant.

Germaine Dulac

The Seashell and the Clergyman (1927)
Film banned in England, tells of dream imagery of celibate clergyman. Considered to be the first surrealist film

L'Ame d'Artist (1925).
A young playwright falls in love with successful actress who is instrumental in finally having his play produced

Maurice Fialat

Sous le soleil de Satan (Under Satan's Sun) (1987). Gerard Depardieu, Sandrine Bonnaire..
Depardieu has a chance meeting with an insinuating horsedealer and confronts a devil of a Satan.

George Franju

Eyes without a Face (1959). Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli.
Mad plastic surgeon tries to reconstruct daughters face.

Serge Gainsbourg

Equateur (1983) Francis Huster, Barbara Sukowa, René Kolidehoff.
Africa in 195O's. Leaving a cargo ship, Timar stays in a shabby hotel, run by Adele, a young woman who is married to an old man suffering from malaria.

Stan the Flasher (1989) Claude Berry, Aurora Clément, Richard Bohringer.
Stan is an exhibitionist, flashing in front of school girls. He doesn't have much going, not even in the lessons he gives to kids, except possibly for a pretty young student - Natascha

Charlotte For Ever (1986) Serge Gainsbourg, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Roland Dubillard.
Alcoholic successful screenwriter has emotional relationship with his daughter who blames him for her mother's death in a auto accident

Jean Genet

Un chant d'amour (1950) (silent, b/w)
Homosexual passion and romance in prison

Jean-Luc Godard

Alphaville (1965) Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina
Private eye Lemmy Caution turns intergalactic agent, and visits Alpha 60, a fully automated city.

Pierrot Le Fou (1965) Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anna Karina, Dirk Sanders, Sam Fuller.
A thriller of love and language, of neon and song, of Picasso and Velazquez.

Une Femme est une Femme. (1961) Jean Paul Belmondo, Anna Karina, Jean Claude Brialy
An almost musical, shot in scope and studio, a menage á trois, the desire for a baby. Godard's first film in color.

Le Mepris (1963). France/Italy. Briggite Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, Fritz Lang.
A funny look at the odd world of international movie making, following in part a woman's increasing sceptism of a husband torn between a director, and an American producer, with eyes on the box office.

Peter Greenaway

The Baby of Macon (1993). Julia Ormond, Ralph Fiennes, Philip Stone.
In mid-seventeenth France the people of Macon watch a passion play that mirrors their own life - it tells of a community struck barren as a result of allowing their cathedral to fall into disrepair....

Alice Guy

La Vie du Christ (1906). Silent. B/W
25 sets, 300 extras. Passion story where women are given pre-eminence

Madame a Des Envies (1906).
Pregnant woman has craving for phallic food which leads her into trouble

Un Soulier pour un Jambon (1906)
Two hobos fish ham out of a soup, and replace it with an old shoe. Wife serves shoe to husband during meal

Aline Isserman

A Shadow of Doubt (1992). Mirielle Perrier, Alain Bashung, Sandrine Blancke.
Psychological thriller on daughter's claim her father has subjected her to sexual abuse

Just Jaeckin.

Histoire d'O (Story of O)(1975).
Need one say more!

Jean-Paul Jeunet and Marc Caro

The City of Lost Children (1995). Ron Perlman, Daniel Emilfork, Judith Vittet, Dominique Pinon
The tales of our childhood from Grimms Brothers to Jules Verne

Delicatessen (1991). Dominique Pinon, Marie-Laure Dougnac
Fantasy set in delicatessan in tenement building: despite the national food shortage, meat is plentiful, and the occassional vanishing tenant never worries anyone.

Krzysztof Kiesloski

The Double Life of Veronique.(1991) France/Poland. Irène Jacob, Philippe Voltier
Two women, one French, one Polish, unrelated but identical, one dies, the other feels inexplicable loss.

Three Colours:Blue.(1993). Juliette Binoche, Benoît Regent, Florence Pernel.
Blue is the colour of liberty, demonstrated by Binoche's attempt to cope with the death of her husband and child, by ridding of all her material possessions

Three Colours:White.(1994). France/Poland. Zbigniew Zamachowski, Julie Delpy.
White represents equality, set in post communist Poland, to which Karol Karol returns in order to start afresh after his French wife leaves him

Three Colours:Red.(1994). France/Switzerland. Irène Jacob, Jean-Louis Trintignant.
Red represents fraternity, in the relationship of a retired judge to a young woman who accidentally runs over his dog. She returns it to him, finding unexpected secrets both of herself and him

Claude Lelouche

Un homme et une femme (1966). Anouk Aimée, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Pierre Baruuh.
A beautiful love story, where racing driver meets script girl in Deauville, famous for its popular "daba-daba-da" musical theme.

Les Miserables (1995). Jean-Paul Belmondo, Michel Boujenah, Jean Marais
A film spanning 1842 - 1942, and Jean Valjean history, including Nazi occupation and the persecution of the Jews.

Sarah Maldoror

Aime Cesaire- Le Masque des Mots (1987)
Documentary on use of torture during the Algerian War

Sambizanga (1989).
Set in Angola in 1970's, a woman increasingly becomes aware of colonial oppression

Louis Malle

Lift to the Scaffold (1957). Maurice Ronet, Jeanne Moreau.
Man and his mistress plot to murder her husband, murderer gets stuck in lift whilst escaping.

Le monde du silence (The Silent World) (1956). Codirected with Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
An exploration of the ocean's fauna and flora by Cousteau, the famous French oceanographer, diver and documentary film-maker..

Pretty Baby (La petite) (1977).Brooke Shields, Keith Carradine, Antonio Fargas.
Set in a New Orleans brothel where the pretty baby of the title eagerly waits her twelfth birthday and the deflowerment which will inaugurate her career.

Fatale (Damage) (1993) Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche, Miranda Richardson.
A Conservative Member of Parliament, meets Anna, with whom he has a passionate affair, even though she is having an affair with his son.

Chris Marker

La Jetee (1964). Hélène Chatelain, Davos Hanich, Jacques Ledoux.
A film of the New Wave, a man witnesses the moment of his own death

Claude Miller

La petite voleuse (1988). Charlotte Gainsbourg, Didier Bazace, Simon de Ia Brosse.
Charming and slightly plain - Janine is 16, seeks love, but it never lasts.

Nagisa Oshima

L'empire des sens (Al No Corrida) (1976). (jap/fr) Tatsuya Fuji, Eiko Matsuda.
The central couple are archetypal Oshima Outsiders, who during the 1936 militaristic times plunge into an erotic world of their own.

Max, mon amour (1986). Charlotte Rampling, Anthony Higgins.
A brilliant young diplomat, Peter, on suspecting his wife Margaret is having a lover, finds that his rival is a chimpanzee named Max.

Roman Polanski

Lune de fiel (Bitter Moon) (1992). Emmanuelle Seigner, Peter Coyote, Hugh Grant.
A British couple, hoping to rejuvenate thieir marriage go to India, and become involved in fellow traveller, who is American.

Jean-Paul Rappeneau

Le Hussard sur le toit (1995) Juliette Binoche, Olivier Martinez
"Love in times of Cholera, in the 19th century Provence; based on a novel by Jean Giono" .... J.N.

Jean Renoir

La Bête Humaine (1938). Jean Gabin, Simone Simon, Fernand Ledoux.
A train driver falls for Séverine, whose jealous husband has already murdered her previous lover.

Jacques Rivette

La Belle Noiseuse (1991). Emmanuelle Beart, Michel Piccoli, Jane Birkin
"A young artist and his girlfriend visit an aging (60s) famous painter at his country house/studio. The visit rekindles the artistic fire in the old master, who convinces the girl to pose for him. This lengthy film demonstrates the process of drawing, painting and making art."  (John Olsen)

Yves Robert

My Father's Glory (La Glorie de Mon Pere) (1991).

My Mother's Castle (Le Chateau de Ma Mere) (1991)
"Two beautiful films based on Marcel Pagnol's childhood in the French countryside...."  (Kerry Parsons)

Alain Robbe-Grillet

The Blue Villa (Un Bruit Qui Rend Fou (1995). Fred Ward, Arielle Dombasle, Charles Torjman
The Blue Villa is a seedy bordello on a Mediterranean island where the villages are frightened by the ghost-like return of a young man, who mysteriously disappeared after the killing of a young Eurasian woman

Last Year in Marienbad (1961). Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoëff
Modernist love story. Landmark movie of the French New Wave

Trans-Europ-Express (1966). Jean-Louis Trintignant, Marie-France Pisier.
Authors and their imaginary characters come face to face on train. Drug-trafficking, sinister intrigue, with lots of sado-masochism sexual perversion

Eric Rohmer

Rendez-vous in Paris (1995). Clara Bellar, Antoine Basler, Mathias Megard.
Three short stories of romantic encounters

A Tale of Springtime (1990)
. Ann Teyssedre, Hugues Quester, Florence Darel.
Story of a father, his lover, (who is as young as his daughter), and his daughter

A Winter's Tale (1991). Charlotte Véry, Michel Voletti, Herv&eacute Furic.
Shakespeare rears his head, in the life of a hairdresser Felice, whose idyllic holiday is spoiled by her giving her lover the wrong address.

Claude Sautet

Nelly and Mr Arnaud (1995). Emmanuelle Béart, Michel Serrault, Jean-Hugues Anglade.
A friendship between young Nelly and old Mr Arnaud.

Barbet Shroeder

Maitresse (1970). Gerard Depardieu, Bulle Ogier, Andre Rouyer
Ogier is the professional maitresse who has a straight romance with Depardieu, whilst below stairs where she entertains her clients in a dungeon.

Alain Tanner

Une flamme dans mon coeur (1987). Myriam Mézières, Aziz Kabouche, Benoit Régent.
The story of the life and death of one affair and the beginning of another.

Andrei Tarkovsky

The Sacrifice.(1986). France/Sweden. Erland Josephson, Susan Fleetwood, Valérie Mairesse.
In Tarkovsky's last film, a writer hearing news of impending nuclear strike, offers everything he owns as a sacrifice, praying for salvation.

Andre Techine

Scene of the Crime (1997). Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux.

Ma Saison Prefere (My Favorite Season).(1993)
"This director makes excellent use of locales. Some beautiful shots around Toulouse in the French countryside."  (Kerry Parsons)

Daniel Vigne

Le Retour de Martin Guerre (1984)
. Gerard Depardieu, Nathalie Baye, Roger Planchon
"n the 16th century a man returns to his village after a long absense, is welcomed back by family and friends, then questions arise regarding his identity. Is he Martin Guerre or a clever imposter? Based on a true story, a legal case heard by the magistrates at Toulouse. Great acting and a fascinating tale. (Was remade in the U.S. as "Sommersby")"  (John Olsen)

Jean Vigo

Zero de Conduite (1933)
Revolution in a seedy boys school

L'Atalante (1934). Dita Parlo, Michel Simon, Jean Dasté
Wonderful film. First few days of marriage between young bargekeeper and his wife, and their adventures with their first mate Michel Simon.

A Propos De Nice (1930)
A travelogue.

Andrzej Zulawski

Possession (1981) (fr/germ). Isabella Adjani, Sam Neil.
A schizoid housewife deserts both husband and lover for an affair in an isolated Berlin apartment with a many-tentacled monster.

La femme publique (1984). Francis Huster, Valérie Kaprisky, Lambert Wilson.
Ethel, a young actress wants to build herself a personality with her body and her inflexible willpower, even if it is through the personality of her lover's vanished wife, Elena.

Do you have suggestions to add to list?
Particularly interested in creating a list of films shot in and/or about Southern France.

France Holiday rentals | Art Workshops | South France Guide

Can you suggest a French film to add - with a review?