Archive for April 24th, 2009


by Allan Fish

(France 1967 105m) DVD1

Aka. The Godson; The Samurai

Beware of white gloves

p  Raymond Borderie, Eugène Lecipier  d/w  Jean-Pierre Melville  ph  Henri Decaë, Jean Charvein  ed  Monique Bonnot, Yo Maurette  m  François de Roubaix  art  Georges Casati, François de Lamothe

Alain Delon (Jef Costello), François Perier (Inspector), Nathalie Delon (Jan Lagrange), Caty Rosier (Valerie), Jacques Leroy (gunman), Michel Boisrand (Wiener), Jean-Pierre Posier (Olivier Rey), Catherine Jourdan (hat-check girl), Robert Favart (barman),

We live in an age where coolness is measured by quips delivered and bodies despatched.  Thrills are all cheap, explosive and o.t.t.  We have forgotten what it is to savour cinematic understatement.  All of which is somewhat ironic when you consider this, Melville’s seminal crime film.  It’s a film of massive influence to so many film-makers, from Jim Jarmusch to Luc Besson and to John Woo – who rates it his favourite movie and whose protagonist in The Killer was named Jeff in homage – and still seems to personify cine-cool.  And yet it is not only the hip film-makers of today who worship him, but the critics, too; the same critics who decry Besson and Woo for the modern trend of style over substance.  Yet isn’t that exactly what fascinated Melville in his crime films?  Yes, but something else, too.  Melville’s characters remind one in some ways of those of Robert Bresson, in that they are nearly all loners or outsiders in society – the quasi-incestuous siblings in Les Enfants Terribles, the eponymous Bob le Flambeur, the Resistance leaders in The Army in the Shadows.  The huge difference is that Melville’s protagonists are generally loners by choice, whereas Bresson’s are rejected by society.  (more…)

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