Between March 1953 and November 1959, Truffaut published 170 articles in Cahiers, mostly film reviews of five to six typewritten pages, or interviews with directors. His writing was forthright, focused and opinionated. He was at the centre of a group of young critics at Cahiers whom Andre Bazin nicknamed the ‘Hitchcocko-Hawksians’, in reference to their two favourite directors. Other members of the group were Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, and Jean-Luc Godard, who, together, would go on to form the core of the French New Wave.
It was at a screening at the Cinematheque Francais, that Truffaut first met Liliane Litvin. Liliane was an unconventionally beautiful young woman, so beautiful that Truffaut had to compete for her attention with his friends Jean Gruault and Jean-Luc Godard. Each tried to win her affection by spiking their conversation with literary references, but she gave herself to none of them. Undeterred, Truffaut eventually installed himself in a hotel across the street from the Litvin family apartment.
One of the last shots on Baisers voles was filmed in front of the locked gates of the Cinematheque Francais and the film was dedicated to Henri Langlois. Throughout much of the filming, Truffaut had been campaigning on behalf of Langlois and the Cinematheque, which was under threat from government ministers who wanted to remove Henri Langlois, the founder and director, and replace him with someone of their own choosing. Truffaut, Godard, Rivette, Chabrol, and many other leading names in French cinema, including Jean Renoir and Jacques Tati mobilised in support of Langlois, banning their work from being screened at the Cinematheque until such time as Langlois was reinstated. Others followed suit, including major foreign directors such as Charlie Chaplin, Fritz Lang, Akira Kurosawa and Carl Dreyer.
The success of changed Truffaut’s way of life. He could now afford a larger apartment in a more fashionable area of Paris, expensive clothes, a sports car, and an expanding collection of records and books. He was also able to help his friends Jacques Rivette, Jean-Luc Godard and Claude de Givray make their first films. Additionally, interest in the film from abroad gave him the opportunity to travel. In New York he was awarded the city’s Critics Award for Best Foreign Film and became friends with Helen Scott, press officer at the French Film Office, who would become a close collaborator and confident.
Thanks to Bazin, Truffaut attended meetings of the film society Objectif 49. Founded by advocates of the new criticism such as Bazin himself, , , , and Claude Mauriac, and sponsored by such established figures as Jean Cocteau, Robert Bresson, Rene Clement, and Roger Leenhardt. The society became the forum of the new criticism. Its screenings were packed, and important filmmakers like Roberto Rossellini, Orson Welles, William Wyler, Preston Sturges and Jean Gremillon, came to present their work. Emboldened by their success, the organizers decided to create a festival.
It was at these clubs, such as the Delta, which presented French movies of the thirties by directors such as Jean Renoir and Sacha Guitry, that Truffaut learnt to analyse the aesthetics of cinema in depth. The greatest film-school of all was Henri Langlois' Cinematheque Francaise where he was exposed to the widest range of cinema from silent classics to countless foreign films from around the world. It was here that he first fell in love with American cinema and the work of such directors as Orson Welles, Howard Hawks, and Alfred Hitchcock.