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 »
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.
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
Jean Pierre Melville was a brilliant and fatalistic filmmaker who hardly found any recognition by anyone in his own home country except from other filmmakers. Only abroad was he given credit as a film director of exceptional talent. For example, his turn as film director for Le Doulos(1961) exposes him as a filmmaker of three dimensional skills. In films like Le Doulos(1961), things such as expressionism become an essential part of Melville's cannon of films.
Jean Paul Belmondo is one of the most famous French tough guys besides Alain Deleon, and Yves Montond. In a way the Silen character played by the actor can be seen as Michel of Breathless(1960) if Michel had lived and became an informer. Belmondo was one of the coolest actors from French cinema for his time. The person of Silen is hard to pin down because one never knows whose side he is on.
Minor classic of French Noir especially in the 1950s-1960s. There are two reasons why I think it to be. First, the story and plot are compelling to follow. Two, many of the essences of film making is brought together to Le Doulos(1955) with some good film execution and competent screenwriting.
Some ingenious plot twists are used to keep the viewer on his or her toes. These plot twists are done in a manner that makes sense and yet retains some form of unpredicability. They are never used for the sake of using them nor are badly wasted as for instance in Wild Things(1998). The plot twists of Le Doulos(1961) are examples of what was one of many big trademarks in the French gangster picture.
Le Doulos(1961) deals with small time gangsters whose beliefs in honor and loyalty are pretty slim. In the gangster world of Melville the qualities of honor and loyalties are nearly extinct and replaced by betrayal and greed. Almost every character in Le Doulos(1961) is someone who can not be trusted and has a duel nature about them. The director never paints a romantic outlook for the criminals of Le Doulos(1961) and that's what makes it effective as a crime thriller.
Narcissism is a major motif for Le Doulos(1961) especially in the behavior of Silen. In many of Melville's main characters from films such as Le Doulos(1961) and Le Samurai(1967) there is a narcissistic feeling that compensates for the emptyness that surrounds their inner body. This is especially true for the Melville characters of Silen and Jeff whose only loyalties are to themselves. That is one element that makes Jean Pierre Melville a fatalistic filmmaker.
The acting in Le Doulos has its shares of ups and downs depending on an individual actor's performance but for the main two the acting is quite good. Jean Paul Belmondo exhibits his strength as an actor in playing the informer, Silen. Serge Reggiani as Maurice Faugel plays his character with a dogged tiredness that is reminicent of Jean Servais's performance in Rififi(1955). Contains a small co starring role for Michel Piccoli who became a major leading actor for many well known film directors including Luis Bunuel, Jean Luc Godard, and Claude Chabrol.
Might be the most underrated picture of Jean Pierre Melville's gangster motion pictures. Does not get the same acclaim as the director's best..I.E., Bob Le Flambeur(1955), Le Samurai(1967), or even Le Cercle Rouge(1970). Le Doulos(1961) has many themes that Jean Pierre Melville return over and over again in his crime films. It is very good at developing tension that bursts open like a cantaloupe.
Le Doulos's direction gets some terrific visual ques from Melville as well as a tight execution of plotting. Jean Paul Belmondo was Jean Pierre Melville's second alter ego after Alain Delon which helped make them into a great actor-director combo. The Paris locations are beautifully breathtaking and fantasticly pictured on film for Le Doulos(1961). The camera and the black and white photography contributes to making the locations a main part of the action.
German film director, Volker Schlondorf first worked in films as an assistant director like Le Doulos(1961) for Jean Pierre Melville(1961)[Volker Schlondorf must have been heavily influenced by Melville when later becoming a film director himself]. The heist sequence of Le Doulos(1961) is not quite on the grandeur level of Rififi(1955) but does fine on its own in a low key way. The ending deals with redemption and the price the two character suffer for achieving their goal of redemption. Le Doulos(1961) is a French variation of John Ford's The Informer(1935) that uses different ideas and, different results, and different plot importances.
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