Gustave Minda, better known as Gu, a dangerous gangster, escapes from jail. He goes to Paris to join Manouche and other friends, and get involved in a gangland killing. Before leaving the ...
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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 ... See full summary »
Bob, an old gangster and gambler is almost broke, so he decides in spite of the warnings of a friend, a high official from the police, to rob a gambling casino in Dauville. Everything is ... See full summary »
Bank robbery in small town ends with one of the robbers being wounded. The loot from the robbery is just an asset for the even more spectacular heist. Simon, gang leader and Paris night ... See full summary »
A French UN delegate has disappeared into thin air, sending reporter Moreau (Jean-Pierre Melville) and hard drinking photographer Delmas (Pierre Grasset) on an assignment to find him. Their only lead is a picture of three women.
1941 in a small town in Nazi occupied France. Against the will of its elderly male and his adult niece residents, the Nazis commandeer a house for one of their officers, Lt. Werner von ... See full summary »
In a snowball fight between schoolboys the handsome Dargelos hits the chest of Paul, who drops unconscious to the ground. Paul has a deep affection for Dargelos, and later denies that there... See full summary »
Gustave Minda, better known as Gu, a dangerous gangster, escapes from jail. He goes to Paris to join Manouche and other friends, and get involved in a gangland killing. Before leaving the country with Manouche, Gu needs a final job to get some money. But that's not so simple when you have Inspector Blot tracking you, and have to deal with the consequences of the shooting in Paris... Written by
Mel Ferrer was hired to play Orloff. On the first days of shooting, he had an argument with director Jean-Pierre Melville and decided to quit. Melville thought that Ferrer was not the right actor for this character, anyway, and after Ferrer left he called Pierre Zimmer to replace him. See more »
Not one of Melville's best, but not without its moments
Jean-Pierre Melville's adaptation of José Giovanni's Deuxieme Soufflé is a classic example of a good story badly told. Running two-and-a-half hours and feeling even longer at times, this story of Lino Ventura's escaped convict getting disastrously mixed up in the proverbial one last job to set him up with enough money to escape to Sicily is not exactly a model of narrative economy as the exposition heavy first two hours are filled with characters speculating at length on scenes we've just seen without ever shining any new light on them. Initially this works surprisingly well as Paul Meurisse's casually brilliant been-there, done-that cop, the real star of the show, explains exactly the story various witnesses will tell at a crime scene for them to save the trouble of interrogating them, but increasingly it just becomes repetitive and slows the picture down to a surprisingly dull crawl. It's not until the last quarter that the film finally threatens to kick start into life as Ventura is tricked into revealing the identity of one of his cohorts and tries desperately to prove that he's no stoolpigeon with both the cops and the gang after his blood. His obsession proving that he's not a collaborator certainly may have had some wartime resonance for a French audience, but more up to date references were left on the cutting from floor thanks to the notorious French censor cuts that saw a police torture scene cut to almost incomprehensibility to remove shots of a suspect being force fed water, a favorite torture technique of the French paratroops and police in Algeria.
That the film's most notorious scene isn't actually in the picture any more is telling for a film that plays better in the memory than while you're actually watching it. While there are occasional hints of Melville's better pictures - those omnipresent trenchcoats and hats, the opening prison break played out in silence, a railway station shot anticipating one in L'Armee des Ombres - it's a distinctly minor film padded out to an epic length it never justifies. There are the odd moments that intrigue, such as one character rehearsing the ways a meeting can go wrong to know where to stash hidden weapons only for one of the hoods he's meeting to do exactly the same thing, but they rarely pay off, while the characters on the wrong side of the law are never quite iconic enough to carry the film over the rough patches. Only Pierre Zimmer's Orloff is particularly admirable, but he's more a facilitator than a protagonist, accurately described by one character, as "all style, no action." While the line might seem a suitable description for Melville, the film isn't that stylish either: with no Henri Decae or Nicholas Hayer behind the lens this time (Marcel Combes was the cinematographer) it often looks no better than the average French polar of the era. It's the kind of film that could certainly benefit from a good remake with a tighter script.
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