Made in U.S.A. (1966)

made in usa poster 1966 jean luc godard
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Beautiful looking

Post-modern mystery feels too forced

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Made in U.S.A.

Studio:  Anouchka Films

Genre(s):  Comedy/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  December 3, 1966 (London Film Festival)/January 27, 1967 (France)/September 27, 1967 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

made in usa anna karina jean luc godard

You did it…I just need to know why and how…

Paula Nelson (Anna Karina) has traveled to Atlantic City to find out who murdered her lover.  Discovering that Richard’s death is more suspicious than she originally perceived, Paula finds herself falling into the seedy underbelly of the city as she becomes the suspect in the murder of Edgar Typhus (Ernest Menzer).  Feeling Typhus’s death is tied to Richards, Paula seeks the truth and won’t give up until she finds it.

Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Made in U.S.A. is a post-modern detective comedy.  The film is loosely based on the 1965 book The Jugger by Donald E. Westlake and Westlake kept Made in U.S.A. out of the U.S. due to it not buying the rights to his novel (until 2009 with his death).  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #481).

made in usa tortured woman

I don’t know what happened really but…damn

Jean-Luc Godard is a total art house director, and Made in U.S.A. is an art house film.  The movie is tough to watch (if you are expecting a story) and tough to classify.  Is it a comedy?  Is it a crime film?  Is it a drama?  The style and storytelling of Godard doesn’t lend itself well to classification…it just has to be seen.

I can’t say that I love Godard’s attempts to be completely counter-culture by breaking all the rules of cinema storytelling.  The film might actually have a decent story if you could follow the plot and lengthy, wordy dialogues that range from interesting to overdone.  The result is this weird ethereal story that you almost can understand…despite being less than ninety minutes, it feels longer as a result.

Part of what makes the movie good is the lead.  Anna Karina was featured in many of Godard’s films but this was their last full length collaboration.  The movie’s supporting cast is hard to nail down since the story doesn’t allow them to develop much, but the movie does have a fun (and random) appearance by Marianne Faithful singing her hit “As Tears Go By” (which was later covered by the Rolling Stones).

made in usa as tears go by marianne faithfull

Random singing by Marianne Faithfull…

What can’t be faulted about Made in U.S.A. are the visuals.  Godard is a master here and utilized the post-modern style to just soak up the visuals.  Be it a picture framed with only the actress in the corner or the actors directly addressing the camera, Made in U.S.A. just pops with color.  The movie has the tone of a neo-noir story but is the opposite in its visuals…and a stark contrast to Godard’s Alphaville.

I don’t love Made in U.S.A., but I respect it a lot.  It kind of feels like art for art’s sake at points, but that isn’t always a bad thing.  You’ll see things in the movie that you wouldn’t expect in a film visually or in storytelling.  It does feel like it is a bit desperate at times (like beeping out Richard’s last name all the time), but it can be forgiven because it isn’t trying to be mainstream…see Made in U.S.A. if you want a feast for your eyes but don’t come for the plot.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response