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Made in USA [DVD] (1966)

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Anna Karina, Marianne Faithfull, Jean-Pierre Leaud, László Szabó, Yves Afonso
  • Directors: Jean-Luc Godard
  • Format: PAL, Widescreen, Mono, Subtitled, Colour
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Studiocanal
  • DVD Release Date: 7 Jan. 2008
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000Z63YYI
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,545 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

Jean-Luc Godard pays homage to the gangster movies of American directors Nicholas Ray and Samuel Fuller with this comic book-influenced crime thriller. A journalist, Paula Nelson (Anna Karina) arrives in Atlantic City, France, in search of her missing ex-lover. She soon discovers that he has been murdered by an unknown assassin, and begins to suspect that he was involved in some political intrigue. In her quest to uncover the truth, she meets a sequence of shady characters from gun-toting gangsters to corrupt police officers.

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Format: DVD
Not made in USA, but dedicated to Nick and Sam (Nicholas Ray and Samuel Fuller, "Hollywood mavericks who were objects of filial awe and Oedipal aggression for Godard"), the last full feature made with his nearly/newly divorced wife Anna Karina, and shot parallel to his Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle. Un film po, as it says several times in the film, completing it differently three times: poétique, politique, policier. Marianne Faithfull has a cameo in a cafe scene where she sings "As Tears Go By". A série noire picture without police.

Characters in the film are named using such real-life people as Don Siegel, Kenji Mizoguchi, Richard Widmark, Robert McNamara, David Goodis and Richard Nixon. Paula Nelson is probably named for Baby Face Nelson, about whom Siegel had made a film starring Mickey Rooney. The film starts with trench-coated Anna Karina in Atlantic City (a provincial French town), there to track down boyfriend Richard P...'s (phone, plane or car noise constantly blur the last name) whereabouts.

With the hotel visit by dwarfy, dubious Mr Typhus, bodies start dropping, amid encounters with Typhus' writer nephew David Goodis (here an "independent" character, not the author of Tirez sur le pianiste), and Doris Mizoguchi, Goodis's singing Japanese girlfriend. Jean-Pierre Léaud and László Szabó play secret service or army characters pursuing Karina, and there is an ironic Hegelian discussion in a café between Karina, a worker and the barman of considerable intellectual charm and humour.
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Format: DVD
Very much a film about film-making and about 60s political concerns of the intelligensia. In that sense it is alienating (and JLG uses plenty of alienating devices) for those not fully engaged with the issues. And that 'discussion' does threaten to undermine the film as 'entertainment' intentionally, I'm pretty sure. At the same time it's an essay in colour and 'beauty' which owes something to Ozu's late colour films of Tokyo, but this is more garish, perhaps, and less subtle. In fact it's so self-conscious that the narrative gets lost and the allusiveness gets tiresome. Is it really that clever to have characters called Richard Nixon? The acting such as it is apart from Karina seems pretty amateurish to me, but again, it could all be seen as doing the Brechtian anti-naturalist thing. It's not a film you could easily love, but it sticks in the memory and it ends with a characteristic in-car shot which is impressive - the 'freewheelingness' of Bande a Part/Breathless is gone.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 7 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If ever there were a film that needs an audio commentary track... 12 Jun. 2011
By Just a consumer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I knowingly took a chance when I bought this DVD based only on a couple of New York Times reviews and a basic familiarity with several of Godard's other films. I was intrigued by the fact that even to this day "Made in USA" has rarely been shown theatrically in the United States. Criterion characterizes the film as a "piece of pop art [that is] like a Looney Tunes rendition of "The Big Sleep" gone New Wave", and that description intrigued me. But I didn't realize just how essential it was for the film to have a scholarly commentary track. If ever there were a film that requires an audio commentary track, this is it.

There _is_ a DVD extra -- the "visual essay"/concordance -- that helps explain a lot, but since it is a separate from the film, the details are covered out of the context and flow of the film. Unless you are fluent in French and familiar in detail with much of the politics, current events, pop culture, and high culture of the decades leading up to the mid-60s, you'll find "Made in USA" a barrage of references that keep you from seeing the forest for the trees.

All the details from the concordance, and more, belong in a commentary track, so that the viewer can take them in as he or she is watching the film. To really do it right, Criterion should have included both an audio commentary and concordance-based captioning with customized screen placement so that the viewer has half a chance of keeping up with the mixture of foreground and background details that are scattered throughout the film.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling deconstructionist game 19 Sept. 2015
By Jackstone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Godard's ultimate deconstructionist game, compared by one critic as cinema's answer to Eliot's "The Waste Land" or Joyce's "Ulysses". Made back in the mid 60s, the movie looks startlingly fresh today. Godard takes the vestiges of a pulp novel and uses it as a jumping off point for pointed digressions into American politics and capitalism, with cross references to Hollywood movies and French philosophy. If the plot is confusing, Godard made it that way, just like "The Big Sleep". Raoul Coutard's cinematography dazzles with its Pop Art brightness. Anna Karina, Godard's muse and wife who had divorced earlier, appears in her penultimate collaboration with Godard. She is as stunning as a high fashion model and as poignant as the sensitive actress that she is. Her Cleopatra hairdo and makeup and beautiful clothes and trench coat add to the film's visual oomph.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pseudo-Psychedelics From The Master Of French New Wave. 18 Feb. 2010
By 4-Legged Defender - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This isn`t one of Goddard`s most appreciated or understood films (ditto with '2 Or 3 Things I Know About Her' from the same time period), yet it`s fascinating to watch him deconstruct an Art form he almost single-handedly created. It`s an absurdist, surreal, darkly comic, brightly colored film noir-come-pseudo-spy story that`s chaotic and complex, and will leave you repeatedly shaking your head as you attempt to keep up with its inspired lunacy. It`s awash in bold, vibrant colors, most of the time red, white and blue to underscore the skewering of rampant American consumerism, and most characters have famous American names to further confound comprehension. But watching it the second time (in truth, I didn`t get it the first go-around), I found it to be acidicly funny Pop Art. The Bar scene with almost nonsensical chatter among its inhabitants while Marianne Faithful sits in a corner singing 'As Tears Go By' was hysterical to me. This was the last time Anna Karina worked w/ Goddard (their marriage broke up quite a bit before this film), and it appears at times throughout the film that he was putting her through paces just to screw with her and see how she`d react. This is not a casual film to watch, you need to give it your undivided attention, like most of his films, maybe more so. It`s not a movie that comes to you, you must go to it, if you get my drift. It`s also not the first film to watch if you`re not familiar w/ his work, you`ll hate it if this is so. You may not like it anyway, but it`s worth a go if you like Goddard, 60`s New Wave, and Pop Art Surrealism. And Criterion gives us many additional features to help us navigate our way within the delerious barrage of Goddard`s assorted visions.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 14 Feb. 2016
By grady roper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
go france!
4.0 out of 5 stars Lesser Godard, but still worthwhile for the gorgeous use of colour and the very best of 1960s fashion and design 17 Sept. 2015
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
In 1966 Jean-Luc Godard was approached by producer Georges de Beauregard, who said that he had some money he needed to spend and asked if Godard could make a film on very short notice. Godard said sure, and proposed adapting a pulp crime novel (Donald E. Westlake's "The Jugger"). But when Godard made the film, which would get the title MADE IN U.S.A., he did everything possible to break out of a straightforward adaptation, using the novel as a mere skeleton over which he could explore other themes that interested him.

Paula (Anna Karina), a journalist, goes to a small town where her estranged boyfriend Richard has died in mysterious circumstances, surely murder. Determined to get to the bottom of things, she takes on the air of a hardboiled detective, wielding a pistol and wearing a Bogartian trenchcoat. She meets the doctor who did the autopsy and has a run-in with the police, but mainly we see her tangled up with two gangsters, played by László Szabó and Jean-Pierre Léaud.

Godard maintains just enough conventional dialogue and action to let the viewer know where we are in the crime novel's plot, but most of what transpires before the camera must be understood as only abstract metaphors for what would have happened in the book. The interaction between his characters mainly has other purposes. They have absurdist conversations with a great deal of wordplay. They allude to French politics in a time when Godard was worried about the compromised values of the French Left and the spectres of fascism and consumer society. The Ben Barka affair, where a Moroccan dissident was murdered in France in 1965 with the apparent involvement of the French security services, looms very large over MADE IN U.S.A., almost elbowing Westlake's original story out entirely. As if aware that he had stripped the plot down to such a degree that he now had too much time to be filled, he gives little asides like Marianne Faithfull singing "Tears Go By" a cappella in a cameo and Kyôko Kosaka strumming a guitar and singing in Japanese.

This is not one of Godard's best films. For one, Godard reused many of the elements of his masterpiece Pierrot Le Fou from the year before. PIERROT LE FOU was itself assembled as a sort of a collage of shots from Godard's prior films, which worked well as a wonderful summing up of his early career. But when he does the same with MADE IN U.S.A., it is to greatly diminished effect. But even if this is weak by Godard standards, it is nonetheless a moving experience. Shot in colour and in Cinemascope, this is a feast for the eyes. The very best of what the 1960s had to offer in terms of fashion and product design is on hand here and it just jumps off the screen. The image feels electric. (It is a pity that Criterion's edition is only on DVD, as a Blu-Ray would have yielded even greater pleasures.) Godard's longtime cameraman Raoul Coutard gives us some elaborate long takes that impress. And of course it's Godard's last major celebration of Anna Karina's beauty and poise, which really was something for the ages, still stunning half a century later.

Criterion's edition comes with some useful extras. In MADE IN U.S.A. Godard included a number of literary quotations, and plus nearly all the names in the film are allusions to other films by other filmmakers, literary figures, etc. We get a a 17-minute featurette here that explains all the allusions. In another featurette, this one 25 minutes long, film scholars Richard Brody and Colin McCabe discuss where MADE AND U.S.A. and, another film he shot at the same time, Two or Three Things I Know About Her fit in his career. There's a 2002 interview with Anna Karina, but this is just her general reminisces about working with Godard (and her telling for the umpteenth time how they met) instead of anything about MADE IN U.S.A. specifically. More interesting for longtime Godard aficionados, I think, is an interview with László Szabó.
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