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 »
When French ex-paratrooper turned amateur boxer Michel Maudet looses his last fight he decides to quit boxing. The French banker and businessman Dieudonné Ferchaux is looking for a new personal secretary and bodyguard. The 25 year old ex-paratrooper is perfect for this role and he accepts the job. Because Mr. Ferchaux is in trouble with the French authorities, especially for his tax evasion crimes, he decides to run to America taking his personal secretary and bodyguard with him. After being threatened with extradition from the USA Mr. Ferchaux plans to escape to South America.He carries a vast sum of money with him but his bodyguard Maudet has a few dishonest ideas of his own.Written by
Yves Boisset, who was assistant to Melville on the shooting, confessed that Melville asked him to find some local American extras for the bar fight. And one of them was a student named Robert De Niro, who was twenty years old at this time. But Melville rejected him. See more »
My name is Michel Maudet. I guess. Back then, I was a boxer. Or more precisely, trying to become one.
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As some of the other reviews have already stated, the print of the movie that is available is very poor. So it is not quite clear whether Melville wanted to have the washed-out look of the picture or whether it is just plain bad quality. Even rare TV screenings do not offer an improved version (ARTE).
The relationship between the young ex-paratrooper/boxer/secretary (Belmondo) and the old bank owner/colonial adventurer (Vanel) is quite interesting and also stands for the generational conflict of the 1960s. Obviously, some of the plot is somewhat stretched but the tension between the main characters is excellently played out. Melville wanted Spencer Tracy for the Vanel part, but Tracy's health situation made any form of outdoor filming (not to mention insurance for this) Impossible. Belmondo, who is fooling around in Godard's "Breathless" and posing as a Bogart style tough guy, really plays a film noir character in this one. The way he treats his girlfriend at the beginning of the movie makes his protagonist almost unlikeable. In the damp Louisiana setting at the end of the movie, the whole affair really turns into a veritable noir.
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