In Jean-Luc Godard's Bande à part (1964) Anna Karina dances the Madison with Danielle Girard and Sami Frey (see the still below). I may be biased (she was my First Great Crush), but I reckon this is unquestionably the best dance scene in cinema. Was there ever a cooler, sexier film star than Anna Karina? Take a look before you read this blog and ask yourself - wouldn't you rather be there, in that smoky bar with an intermittent jukebox, than wherever you are right now?
She will, improbably, be 73 later this month. She was Godard's muse, in the days when directors had muses and films were made by and for grown-ups. She was also his wife for five tumultuous years. Think of their collaborations - Le petit soldat and Une femme est une femme (both 1960), Vivre sa vie (1962), Alphaville and Pierrot le fou (both 1965) and Made in U.S.A. (1966) - that's quite a haul.
Yet in 1962 and at the height of her fame she also appeared alongside Bob Monkhouse and Hattie Jacques in She'll Have to Go, a witless British farce that I've never seen and hope I never will. She survived the indignity and, following her divorce from Godard, went on to work with some heavyweight directors - Jacques Rivette, Luchino Visconti, George Cukor and Tony Richardson and Rainer Werner Fassbinder's (Chinese Roulette, 1976). But the Godard films are her most coherent and cherishable legacy, proof of how good things can be when the right people work together.
I don't intend to brood on the lamentable decline in film since the glory days of the nouvelle vague and the pitifully homogenised quality of today's actresses. Gwyneth Paltrow? You must be joking.