Breathless (1983 film)

Breathless is a 1983 American drama neo-noir film[1] directed by Jim McBride and written by McBride and L. M. Kit Carson, starring Richard Gere and Valérie Kaprisky. It is a remake of the 1960 French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard and written by Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, À bout de souffle (known as Breathless in English) and was released in France under the title A Bout de Souffle Made in USA. The original film is about an American girl and a French criminal in Paris, while in the remake is vice-versa in Los Angeles.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byJim McBride
Produced byMartin Erlichman
Written byOriginal screenplay
François Truffaut
Jean-Luc Godard
L. M. Kit Carson
Jim McBride
Music byJack Nitzsche
CinematographyRichard H. Kline
Edited byRobert Estrin
Rachel Igel
Distributed byOrion Pictures
Release date
  • May 13, 1983 (1983-05-13)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million
Box office$19,910,002


Jesse Lujack (Richard Gere) is a cocky, nihilistic drifter in Las Vegas, obsessed with Marvel Silver Surfer comic books, the rock and roll music of Jerry Lee Lewis, and Monica Poiccard (Valérie Kaprisky), a UCLA architecture undergraduate whom he knows only from a weekend fling in Vegas. As the film opens late at night, he steals a Porsche, intending to drive to Los Angeles. As he speeds down the highway and looks through the owner's possessions, he discovers a handgun in the vehicle's glovebox. Seeing his reckless driving, a policeman gives chase and Jesse is forced off the road and becomes stuck. When the policeman orders him to step away from the car, Lujack impulsively grabs the gun and shoots the officer. Fleeing to Los Angeles, Lujack finds his picture splashed all over the newspaper and TV news as the "cop killer."

On the run, under the alias of Jack Burns, he breaks into Monica's apartment and waits for her to return home. She discovers him naked in her bed. She initially declines his advances but later has sex with him in her shower. He then moves in with her. She is captivated by this reckless American and resumes her affair with him. However, she is a star student with big plans and Jesse is jealous of the powerful, successful men in her life.

After Jesse's photograph appears in the newspaper, he is recognized on the street right after dropping Monica off at a groundbreaking ceremony downtown. The police find her and question her on the street. She seems increasingly ambivalent about Jesse, repelled by his instability but drawn to his sense of risk and danger; she does not turn him in. When the police start following her right before Jesse comes back to pick her up, she impulsively accepts his offer to flee to Mexico together.

On the way to Mexico, Monica finds that her picture is on the front page of the national newspaper alongside Jesse's. Realizing the impossibility of her romantic fantasy, she phones the police, but then returns to tell him she did so and plead with him. The police corner them on the street, and he sings Jerry Lee Lewis' "Breathless" to her before grabbing a gun from the ground at his feet as she runs towards him. The film ends in a freeze-frame of Jesse turning to face the police with the gun.



There is no official soundtrack released. Along with the incidental music for the movie, provided by Jack Nitzsche, these are the songs that are featured in the film:

  1. Bad Boy - Mink DeVille
  2. High School Confidential - Jerry Lee Lewis
  3. Breathless - Jerry Lee Lewis
  4. Final Sunset - Brian Eno
  5. Wonderful World - Sam Cooke
  6. Opening - Philip Glass
  7. No Me Hagas Sufrir - Ismael Quintana / Eddie Palmieri
  8. Suspicious Minds - Elvis Presley
  9. Wind on Wind - Brian Eno
  10. Wind on Water - Brian Eno and Robert Fripp
  11. Jack the Ripper - Link Wray
  12. 365 Is My Number / The Message - King Sunny Adé
  13. Celtic Soul Brothers - Dexy's Midnight Runners
  14. Message of Love - The Pretenders
  15. Caca de Vaca - Joe "King" Carrasco
  16. Breathless - X


It was released in the United States on May 13, 1983 by Orion Pictures.[2] Breathless was screened at the Dallas International Film Festival on April 18, 2015.[3]

Home media

Breathless was released on VHS in the United States and United Kingdom by Orion Pictures and Rank with a LaserDisc available in 1983. It debuted on DVD in the U.S. in April 2000 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer with the theatrical trailer and booklet.[4] In the U.S. and Canada, Shout Factory released the film in April 2015 on Blu-ray with one extra feature; a theatrical trailer.[5]


Box office

The film grossed $19,910,002 in the United States.[6]

Critical response

Upon release, it received mixed reviews[7]

The film has since gained minor cult status. American director Quentin Tarantino cited it as one of the "coolest" movies, commenting: "Here's a movie that indulges completely all my obsessions - comic books, rockabilly music and movies."[8] The Silver Surfer poster in Freddy Newandyke's apartment seen in Reservoir Dogs is a homage to Jesse's Silver Surfer-obsession.[9]

See also


  1. Silver, Alain; Ward, Elizabeth; eds. (1992). Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style (3rd ed.). Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press. ISBN 0-87951-479-5
  2. Breathless - AFI|Catalog - American Film Institute
  3. 2015 Dallas International Film Festival: Breathless - Event
  4. Breathless | DVD | United States | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer | 1983 | 90 min | Rated R | Apr 25, 2000
  5. Breathless | Blu-ray | Shout Factory | 1983 | 100 min | Rated R | Apr 07, 2015
  6. "Business details for Breathless at the Internet Movie Database". Retrieved 2007-04-11.
  7. "Breathless (1983)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  8. "Tarantino's favorite films at". Archived from the original on 2009-12-13. Retrieved 2009-11-24.
  9. "Reservoir Dogs movie connections at". Retrieved 2009-11-24.
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