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.
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
There's a cut as Commissaire Mattei turns on the lamp in his apartment. The cat beside the green chair disappears and the cat in it switches from facing sideways to facing the camera. See more »
Between shooting two men six feet away and hitting a target at 100 feet there's a certain difference. It's the difference between an amateur and a professional. And, despite all appearances, I'm not professional.
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Not having seen this film in quite some time, we caught with it not long ago in the nicely transferred Criterion DVD. "Le cercle rouge" is a film that owes a lot to other movies, as it keeps reminding us about "Rififi", "The Asphalt Jungle", among others, because they all deal with capers that take center stage in the movie and reproduce it in great detail. Unfortunately, one knows that old adage that crime does not pay, and from the start, these men involved in it are doomed from the onset.
Jean-Pierre Melville was a director of few words. He didn't fill his pictures with a lot of dialog, as it's the case here. Yet, for not being "talky", they had a style of their own as proved with "Le Dolous", "Le Samurai", and his masterpiece, "Bob le flambeur", among others. Mr. Melville had a sense of style that comes across in everything he did. In this film, working with his cinematographer, Henri Decae, he takes us along for a ride through the streets of Paris that shows the vibrant city mainly at night and the bleak winter in France. The score is by Eric Demarsan that emphasizes a jazzy music that accompanies most of the action.
Although the film shows Alain Delon, as Corey, at the center of the action, it is however, the smart inspector Mattei who is the real hero of the movie. As played by the great Bourvil, he is a man that shows a lot of patience because he has figured from the beginning how to catch Vogel, and in the process he gets involved in the investigation of the jewel heist in which he knows the escaped man he is tailing looms large behind it. Bourvil gives an enormously satisfying performance as Mattei showing equal parts of determination and tenderness, as it's the case with the three cats he adores.
Alain Delon always responded with interesting performances his appearances in Mellville's pictures. In here he is Corey, the man who is first seen leaving prison and promising himself he won't go back, but he cannot pass a good thing when he decides to go ahead and participate in the robbery. His association with Vogel and Jansen, pays off in the way they get the job done, but it will also prove a mistake in the way they will not be able to dispose of the loot as the fence they have relied on has a change of heart.
Gian Maria Volonte and Yves Montand are seen as Vogel and Jansen, respectively. They were excellent actors who blend well in the action of the film. Both actors were at their best moment when they took the roles in the film and it shows. Mr. Montand has the more complex character to play as we witness him in his first moment in front of the camera as a man with many demons inside his head.
Jean-Pierre Mellville got wonderful results from his cast and crew in a film, that although feels a bit longer, but still succeeds in showing his style in one of the most memorable pictures from the director.
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