A GIRL AND A GUN

"Girls with guns" is a genre of film which first appeared in the early 1960s.

By Balthazar Malevolent

A GIRL AND A GUN

The expression "all you need to make a film is a girl and a gun" is credited to Jean-Luc Godard, and contradicts his insistence that "c'est Griffith qui a dit ça, ce n'est pas moi" ("it was Griffith who said that, not me").

La Nouvelle Vague - Jean-Luc Godard.

Godard seems to have first attributed this phrase to Griffith in 1964, announcing his upcoming film "Bande à part" in media.

"What do moviegoers want?" asked Griffith. "A girl and a gun." It is to satisfy their wishes that I've made, and that Columbia will be distributing, "Bande à part", a sure-fire story that will sell many tickets."

La Nouvelle Vague - Jean-Luc Godard.

Commentators who picked up on Godard's phrase retained the attribution, but Pauline Kael's piece "Godard among the Gangsters" in "The New Republic" in 1966 left Griffith out of the competition: "Jean-Luc Godard intended to give the public what they wanted. His next movie was about a girl and a gun".

La Nouvelle Vague - Jean-Luc Godard.

In 1965, Claude Lelouch made "Une fille et des fusils" ("a girl and some rifles"), a Godard's "Bande à part" homage-cum-pastiche featuring girls and guns, and a close up of a newspaper with an advert for "Bande à part".

Godard himself followed "Bande à part" with other girls and guns featuring films, e.g. "Pierrot le fou" (1965), "Made in USA" (1966) "And La Chinoise" (1967), "Alphaville" (1965).

La Nouvelle Vague - Jean-Luc Godard.

The tastes of the public shift but what draws them most is what our master D.W. Griffith did. So, more than forty years ago, Griffith defined: "A girl and a gun," that is, eroticism and aggression.

From the outset René Clair featured girls and guns in his movies. The best combination of "girl and a gun" in Clair's oeuvre is a film he envisaged but did not direct, Augusto Genina's "Prix de beauté" (1930) in which the girl is Louise Brooks.

La Nouvelle Vague - Jean-Luc Godard.

When Griffith spoke of "a girl and a gun," he defined what it was that attracted the screen's vulgar attention.

"As for the public, it plays its usual role of imposing its sentimental routine on those whom it considers to be suppliers of pleasure, and not entirely wrong. The public are demanding a girl and a gun," Griffith said. "That's sufficient to ensure it gets them."

La Nouvelle Vague - Jean-Luc Godard.

Designers Thierry Mugler and Andre Courreges have made references to the Nouvelle Vague's A Girl and a Gun in their 1970s collections.

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