The Last Metro

The Last Metro (French: Le Dernier Métro) is a 1980 historical drama film, written and directed by François Truffaut, that stars Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu.[4]

The Last Metro
Film poster
Directed byFrançois Truffaut
Produced byFrançois Truffaut
Jean-José Richer
Written byFrançois Truffaut
Suzanne Schiffman
Jean-Claude Grumberg
StarringCatherine Deneuve
Gérard Depardieu
Jean Poiret
Music byGeorges Delerue
CinematographyNéstor Almendros
Edited byMartine Barraqué
Les Films du Carrosse
Andrea Films
TF1 Films Production
Distributed byGaumont
United Artists Classics
Release date
  • 17 September 1980 (1980-09-17)
Running time
131 minutes
Box office$23.3 million[1][2]
3,393,694 admissions (France)[3]

Opening in 1942 during the German occupation of France, it follows the fortunes of a small theatre in the Montmartre area of Paris which keeps up passive resistance by maintaining its cultural integrity, despite censorship, antisemitism and material shortages, to emerge triumphant at the war’s end.[5] The title evokes two salient facts of city life under the Germans: fuel shortages led people to spend their evenings in theatres and other places of entertainment, but the curfew meant they had to catch the last Métro train home.

In 1981, the film won 10 Césars for: best film, best actor (Depardieu), best actress (Deneuve), best cinematography, best director (Truffaut), best editing, best music, best production design, best sound and best writing.[4][6] It received Best Foreign Film nominations in the Academy Awards[7] and Golden Globe Awards.[8]

The Last Metro was one of Truffaut's more successful productions, grossing $3,007,436 in the United States; this was also true in France, where it had 3,384,045 admissions, making it one of his more successful films in his native country.[1]


On his way to start rehearsals at the Théâtre Montmartre, where he has been hired as male lead for a new production, young Bernard Granger tries to talk to an attractive woman, who repeatedly rebuffs him. When he arrives, she turns out to be the costume designer Arlette, a lesbian. He is taken to see the icily beautiful Marion, who is both owner of the theater and leading lady. Her Jewish husband Lucas is believed to have left Paris but is in fact living in the cellars, where Marion visits him each evening to bring books and food and talk about the new production. However Marion is quite struck by Bernard, whom Lucas can just hear through a heating vent but never see. Unknown to anybody at the theater, Bernard is a member of a Resistance group and delivers the bomb that kills a German admiral.

The first night is loved by a full house but one of the newspaper reviews next morning is viciously hostile, damning the show as Jewish. The writer Daxiat, an anti-semite, hopes to oust Marion and take over her theatre. While cast and crew are celebrating their success in a night club, Daxiat enters. Bernard, furious that the man has insulted the gentile Marion, hustles him out to the street and pushes him around. Furious that Bernard has jeopardised her theatre, Marion refuses all contact with him offstage. One night, pretending to be air raid wardens, two Gestapo men start searching the theatre and it is Bernard to whom Marion turns to in desperation for urgent help in concealing Lucas and his effects. When the Gestapo arrests Bernard's Resistance contact just before they have planned to meet in a church, he decides to devote his life to the cause and give up acting. As he is clearing out his little dressing room, Marion comes in to say goodbye and the two make love on the floor.

After the war, Bernard returns to be male lead in a new play that the freed Lucas wrote while hiding. In it, the female lead played by Marion offers to share her life, but he claims he never really loved her. At the end of the opening night, Bernard, Marion and Lucas stand hand in hand to take the applause.


  • Catherine Deneuve as Marion Steiner
  • Gérard Depardieu as Bernard Granger
  • Jean Poiret as Jean-Loup Cottins
  • Heinz Bennent as Lucas Steiner
  • Andréa Ferréol as Arlette Guillaume, the costume designer
  • Paulette Dubost as Germaine Fabre, the older woman employed by the theatre
  • Sabine Haudepin as Nadine Marsac, the young actress
  • Jean-Louis Richard as Daxiat
  • Maurice Risch as Raymond Boursier, the technician of the theatre
  • Marcel Berbert as Merlin
  • Richard Bohringer as a Gestapo Officer
  • László Szabó as Lieutenant Bergen
  • Jean-Pierre Klein as Christian Leglise, a resistant
  • Franck Pasquier as Jacquot/Eric
  • Rose Thierry as Jacquot's mother
  • Martine Simonet as Martine Sénéchal
  • Christian Baltauss as the actor replacing Bernard
  • Rénata as Greta Borg, a singer in a club
  • Hénia Ziv as Yvonne
  • Jean-José Richer as René Bernardini
  • Jessica Zucman as Rosette
  • René Dupré as M. Valentin
  • Alain Tasma as Marc
  • Pierre Belot as the Hotel porter
  • Jacob Weizbluth as Rosen[9]


Truffaut had wanted to create a film set during the French occupation period for a long time, as his uncle and grandfather were both part of the French Resistance, and were once caught while passing messages. This event was eventually recreated in The Last Metro.[10] Truffaut was inspired by the actor Jean Marais’ autobiography, basing the film on this and other documents by theatre people from during the occupation.[11]

This film was one installmentdealing with theatreof a trilogy on the entertainment world envisaged by Truffaut.[12] The installment that dealt with the film world was 1973's La Nuit Américaine (Day for Night),[12] which had won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Truffaut completed the screenplay for the third installment, L'Agence Magique, which would have dealt with the world of music hall.[12] In the late 1970s he was close to beginning filming, but the failure of his film The Green Room forced him to look to a more commercial project, and he filmed Love on the Run instead.

Truffaut began casting in September 1979, and he wrote the role of Marion especially with Catherine Deneuve in mind for her energy.[13] Gérard Depardieu initially did not want to be involved in the film, as he did not like Truffaut’s directing style, but he was subsequently convinced.[14]

Most of the filming took place in an abandoned chocolate factory on Rue du Landy in Clichy, which was converted into a studio. During shooting Deneuve suffered an ankle sprain from a fall, resulting in having to shoot over scenes at short notice. Scriptwriter Suzanne Schiffman was also hospitalised with a serious intestinal obstruction.[15] The film shoot lasted fifty-nine days and ended on April 21, 1980.[16]


A recurring theme in Truffaut’s films has been linking film making and film watching.[17] The Last Metro is self-conscious in this respect. In the opening the film mixes documentary footage with period re-creations alongside shots of contemporary film posters.[18]

Truffaut commented “this film is not concerned merely with anti-semitism but intolerance in general” and a tolerance is shown through the characters of Jean Poiret playing a homosexual director and Andrea Ferreol plays a lesbian designer.[19]

As in Truffaut's earlier films Jules et Jim and Two English Girls, there is a love triangle between the three principal characters: Marion Steiner (Deneuve), her husband Lucas (Heinz Bennent) and Bernard Granger (Depardieu), an actor in the theatre's latest production.[4]


The film recorded admissions in France of 3,384,045.[20]

Awards and nominations

See also


  1. JP. "Le Dernier métro (1980)- JPBox-Office". Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  2. "The Last Metro (1981) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  3. Box Office information for Francois Truffaut films at Box Office Story
  4. Lanzoni, Rémi Fournier (2002). French Cinema: From Its Beginnings to the Present. Continuum. pp. 314–315. ISBN 978-0-8264-1600-1.
  5. Holmes, Diana; Ingram, Robert (1998). François Truffaut. Manchester: Manchester university press. p. 18. ISBN 0-7190-4554-1.
  6. "Palmares". Académie des César. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
  7. "The 53rd Academy Awards (1981) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  8. "Golden Globes, USA: 1981". IMDB. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
  9. Allen, Don. Finally Truffaut. New York: Beaufort Books. 1985. ISBN 0-8253-0335-4. OCLC 12613514. pp. 238–239.
  10. Baecque, Antoine de; Temerson, Serge Toubiana (2000). Truffaut. Translation from French by Catherine. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-520-22524-4.
  11. Insdorf, Annette (9 February 1981). "How Truffaut's 'The Last Metro' Reflects Occupied Paris". The New York Times.
  12. Higgins, Lynn A. (1998). New Novel, New Wave, New Politics. University of Nebraska Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-8032-7309-2.
  13. Baecque, Antoine de; Temerson, Serge Toubiana (2000). Truffaut. Translation from French by Catherine. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 353. ISBN 978-0-520-22524-4.
  14. Baecque, Antoine de; Temerson, Serge Toubiana (2000). Truffaut. Translation from French by Catherine. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 354. ISBN 978-0-520-22524-4.
  15. Baecque, Antoine de; Temerson, Serge Toubiana (2000). Truffaut. Translation from French by Catherine. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 356. ISBN 978-0-520-22524-4.
  16. Baecque, Antoine de; Temerson, Serge Toubiana (2000). Truffaut. Translation from French by Catherine. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 357. ISBN 978-0-520-22524-4.
  17. Insdorf, Annette (1994). François Truffaut (Rev. and updated ed.). Cambridge u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0-521-47808-3.
  18. White, Armond. "Truffaut's Changing Times: The Last Metro". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  19. Insdorf, Annette. "How Truffaut's 'The Last Metro' Reflects Occupied Paris". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  20. Catherine Deneuve box office information at Box Office Story
  21. "1981 Award Winners". National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
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