Burglar Maurice Faugel has just finished his sentence. He murders Gilbert Vanovre, a receiver, and steals the loot of a break-in. He is also preparing a house-breaking, and his friend ...
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Burglar Maurice Faugel has just finished his sentence. He murders Gilbert Vanovre, a receiver, and steals the loot of a break-in. He is also preparing a house-breaking, and his friend Silien brings him the needed equipment. But Silien is a police informer ... A movie whose "all characters are two-faced, all characters are false", according to director Jean-Pierre Melville. Written by
Favorite storyline of Quentin Tarantino. See more »
When the first murder takes place, a lamp on a long cord is knocked from a table. In the next shot, it's swinging in a different direction than it did when it fell, and much more vigorously than it would have been possible. See more »
Jean-Pierre Melville's direction is a glorious tribute to classic American crime films of the 1940's and early 50's but has also a strong touch of originality. The story is set in the early 1960's Paris, but these criminals seem to live in a world of their own. It's a Hollywood film-noir underworld, where men constantly wear hats and trench coats like Humbrey Bogart, brandishing revolvers, drinking bourbon or scotch and driving big American cars, that look like tanks compared to small ordinary European vehicles around. The overall mood is dark and threatening and with the right kind of lightning and photography many scenes seem like epitomes of the best stuff the genre has ever offered.
Compared to its predecessors The Fingerman gives some new shine to the term 'hard boiled'. Women can still be fatal femmes in some sense, but mostly they get pushed around and are allowed attention only when men really need them. They are only there to pass information and sexual favors, nurse wounds and serve as minor helping hands. And when it comes to violence, they get the same rough treatment as any man.
Belmondo's role leans heavily to Dix Handley (Sterling Hayden) in John Huston's adaption of 'The Asphalt Jungle', only with a more visible dark side. His character is a strange and hypnotic mixture of honesty, treachery and bursts of sadistic violence. The way his tone of voice changes to more tender just before assault or murder is gripping. Serge Reggiani, although equally capable to violence, seems more mature and easier to identify with. Both men strongly overpower the happenings but not their own destinies. Fate still has its usual final word, as anyone familiar with characteristics of the genre well knows.
The plot with several flashbacks and changes of time and place may feel a little complex at the beginning, but opens up to be a very rewarding movie experience towards the end. This film easily equals and even surpasses many of its obvious paragons. Of the few Melville's films I have seen at this point this one became an instant favorite in a single viewing even beating the almighty Le Samurai. Very warmly recommended.
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