Movie historian Leslie Halliwell has quoted French filmmaker François Truffaut as observing "I make films that I would like to have seen when I was a young man." It is difficult to believe that there exists a film that Truffaut didn't see as a youth.
The product of an unhappy, loveless home, Truffaut began using films to escape the exigencies of reality at age seven, virtually living in various Parisian movie houses. He left school to go to work at 14, and, one year later, founded a film club, which brought him to the attention of influential cinema critic Andre Bazin. Over the next few years, Bazin both financed and protected Truffaut, helping the young cineaste weather such crises as his arrest for nonpayment of debts and his 1951 public humiliation following his desertion from the Army. In 1953, Bazin hired Truffaut as a critic/essayist for Cahiers du Cinema. It was in the January 1954 edition that Truffaut published his landmark essay "A Certain Tendency in the French Cinema," in which he attacked directors who merely ground out films without any personal cinematic vision; he also propounded the auteur theory, which opined that the only directors worth serious consideration were those who left their own individual signatures on each of their films.