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
As the plot is mainly about a flight throughout the United States from New York to New Orléans of the two main characters played by Jean Paul Belmondo and production could not film on locations; the indoor scenes were shot in Melvilles's own studio in Paris with the addition of many rear projections for the scenes inside cars. 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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Washed-up boxer Jean-Paul Belmondo answers an ad for a secretary. It's Charles Vanel, a magnate whose brother has just been jailed for corruption. Vanel needs to get out of the country, pick up his money in New York and then fly to extradition-safe Venezuela. Belmondo goes with him. In New York, the bankers put him off, so they go on a road trip, ending up near New Orleans. Vanel grows weaker. Belmondo chafes at the situation. Locals try to get him to help kill the old man.
There's a sequence in which Belmondo goes to New Orleans and has an affair with Michèle Mercier, whose character is a French stripper called "Lou." This makes me think that writer-director Jean-Pierre Melville had the song "Frankie and Johnny" in mind, and that this is a love story with a tragic ending, with Belmondo on a voyage of self-discovery through an alien, idealized America of his own imagination How these pieces fit together is not clear; Melville had these bizarre ideas of how things worked that often bore no relationship to reality. The journey, wth Vanel occasionally providing insight into how Belmondo's character thinks, strikes me as something of a journey into the underworld. Melville's symbolism is so idiosyncratic, and the pacing so slow, that the movie is recondite and unsatisfactory.
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