a more influential and important film than it is a good one. by classical standards this film is a mess – you can see the shadow of the camera, the actors look at the camera from time to time, the acting is sometimes bad, the editing looks like it’s trying to mask the need for several takes within a single scene, etc. it’s an important film because, in 1959, no one was making films that looked like this or were made like this. it led to the rise of the french new wave (love it or hate it) as well as the independent films and independent spirit of the 1960s. it got away from the large scale productions and paved the way for everything from andy warhol to steven soderbergh. it also tackled race and the beat generation.
as important as the film is, though, it’s not very entertaining and even pauline kael sited entertainment as the most important element in a film’s success.