Le Cercle Rouge (1970)
"Le cercle rouge" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  20 October 1970 (France)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 14,082 users   Metascore: 91/100
Reviews: 50 user | 77 critic | 19 from Metacritic.com

After leaving prison, master thief Corey crosses paths with a notorious escapee and an alcoholic former policeman. The trio proceed to plot an elaborate heist.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Le Commissaire Mattei (as André Bourvil)
Vogel (as Gian-Maria Volonte)
Le Receleur
Paul Amiot ...
Pierre Collet ...
Le Gardien de prison
André Ekyan ...
Jean-Pierre Posier ...
L'assistant de Mattei
François Périer ...
Santi (as François Perier)
Yves Arcanel ...
Le juge d'instruction
René Berthier ...
Le directeur de la P.J.
Jean-Marc Boris ...
Le fils Santi
Jean Champion ...
Le garde-barrière
Yvan Chiffre ...
Un policier


On the eve of his release after five years imprisoned, the thief Corey is contacted by one guard of the prison that offers him a jewelry heist. However Corey seeks out his former boss Rico and steals money from him. Rico sends two gangsters to hunt Corey down and retrieve the stolen amount. Meanwhile the criminal Vogel is transported by train by the Police Officer Mattei and succeeds to escape. Corey drives from Marseille to Paris and Vogel hides in the trunk of his car. Corey finds him but does not object to ride Vogel to Paris hidden in the trunk. When the gangsters sent by Rico cut in Corey's car, Vogel saves him from the criminals, but Corey loses the money. Without money, Corey decides to heist the jewelry with Vogel and invites the former police detective Jansen to team-up with them. The trio executes a perfect heist but Rico is seeking revenge and Mattei is an unethical but efficient police officer capable to use any means to resolve the case. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


No place to hide..Nowhere to run.. See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

20 October 1970 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Le Cercle Rouge  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$14,843 (USA) (10 January 2003)


$372,229 (USA) (12 September 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Favorite movie of Jean-Pierre Dardenne. See more »


When Commissaire Mattei goes to enter in his office while Le Receleur is inside, he opens the door and while the door is opened an he goes to get in, in the next shot from inside of the office the door is closen and Commissaire Mattei opens it again to get in. See more »


Jansen: [dying of a gunshot wound] Still as stupid as ever on the force, eh, old friend?
See more »


Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.13 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

While "Le Samourai" had one great lead performance, this has four
24 December 2006 | by (Worcester, MA) – See all my reviews

While its not the masterpiece that "Le Samourai" was (I've accepted by now that Jean-Pierre Melville was never able to top that classic), I find "Le Cercle Rouge" to be much better than "Bob le flambeur". I felt that "Bob le flambeur" was an above-average and influential b-film, but still a b-film. "Le Cercle Rouge" proves that as a filmmaker Melville improved as he continued. John Woo is a massive fan of Melville, even though their film-making style differs. While Woo uses fast-motion for shootouts and an operatic sense of violence, Melville has a minimalist style that suits him very well. He wasn't interested in creating quickly paced action films but more meditative crime thrillers. In that department, he was one of the best.

"Le Samourai" is still his best work, mainly because it has more character development than this, but on a technical level they're probably equal. Besides, while "Le Samourai" had one great lead performance, this has four. Alain Delon is once again an ultra-cool gangster on the prowl - this man's silence is fascinating. Bourvil is superb as the police inspector on the case of the heist and escaped con. He steals every scene he is in, and proves that he was a skilled dramatic actor (in France he is best known as a slapstick comedian in the mode of Buster Keaton). Yves Montand is great also as the shaky and paranoid gun expert. Gian Maria Volontè (a regular in spaghetti westerns) is overshadowed by his three co-stars but still does an adequate job.

Once again, Melville's direction is superb. Taking equal influence from both American crime thrillers and the French new wave, the man always seems to know the best shots and angles to choose. This is more slowly-paced than most caper flicks, but it really pays off by the end. "Le Cercle Rouge" is a bit short of being an absolute classic, but is still one of the best heist flicks ever made. Tarantino must've seen this before making "Reservoir Dogs". (8/10)

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