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Law Breakers (1971)

Les assassins de l'ordre (original title)
A judge investigating police corruption finds that the deeper he digs, the more roadblocks he finds.


Marcel Carné
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jacques Brel ... Le juge d'instruction Bernard Level
Catherine Rouvel ... Danièle Lebegue
Paola Pitagora ... Laura
Roland Lesaffre ... Saugeat
Boby Lapointe Boby Lapointe ... Louis Casso
Jean-Roger Caussimon ... Le commissaire Lagache
Henri Nassiet Henri Nassiet ... Le président du tribunal (as Henry Nassiet)
Harry-Max ... Moulard (as Harry Max)
Pierre Maguelon ... Le gardien
Luc Ponette Luc Ponette ... Me Rivette
Marius Laurey Marius Laurey ... Véricel
Lucien Barjon Lucien Barjon ... Mauvoisins
Alain Nobis Alain Nobis ... Le président
Françoise Giret Françoise Giret ... Geneviève Saugeat
François Cadet François Cadet ... Rabut


A judge investigating police corruption finds that the deeper he digs, the more roadblocks he finds.

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Did You Know?


For those who are somewhat mystified by the concept of the "investigating magistrates" in the French legal system, I strongly recommend the hit French television series Engrenages (Spiral), now in its 8th season. In this series, Philippe Duclos brilliantly inhabits the role of Françoise Roban, the deeply flawed but apparently most incorruptible investigating magistrate in the entire justice apparatus. See more »


Featured in My Journey Through French Cinema (2016) See more »

User Reviews

A brave 'in your face' challenge to the corrupt French Estabishment
23 June 2008 | by robert-temple-1See all my reviews

Here the director is Marcel Carne, the director of 'Les Enfants du Paradis' (1945), one of the world's great films and on everybody's list of best ever. He also made 'Hotel du Nord' and 'Quai des Brunes', both in 1938, and he is a mega-force in the history of cinema. It is common for people to deride his later films, but this one is a powerful, bold and courageous one. It starts quietly, and even seems to be a rather bland detective film at first. But that is deceptive. Alas, the film having been made in Eastmancolour, it has faded a lot, and looks wan, which does not help the dramatic impact. But if you stick with this one with its slow, methodical beginning, it turns into a vehement attack upon French official corruption, which was as bold a thing to do just after 1968 as it was tricky to direct movies under the Vichy regime in the forties. He even has the students peacefully protesting in the streets. We have here a meticulous, surgical dissection of every detail of how corruption operates in French society. The main character, played just right by Jacques Brel, with his shy smile, is of what is known as an 'investigating magistrate'. American and British viewers won't understand the processes at work here, because this all takes place under the Napoleonic legal code. An investigating magistrate (who somewhat resembles an American grand jury, but is just one person) summons suspects and interrogates them, and then decides whether to bring an indictment or not, and either does or does not do so. He is a special kind of judge. This is so alien to British practice as to be incomprehensible. (The best portrayal in literature of this investigative magistrate process is the 1928 novel 'The Mauritzius Case' by Jacob Wassermann.) Brel fearlessly decides to investigate the case of a man brutally beaten to death in police custody while being interrogated. French officaldom is so fantastically corrupt (as we all now know, with the revelations about Mitterand and Chirac for instance) that the tentacles are everywhere, and we see them here: the man's son is framed, his wife is framed, everything that can be done to stop him investigating 'the Establishment' is portrayed blow by blow. If Carne was unpopular with the powers that be before this, he was now truly a 'non-person', after daring to show all of this to the public in graphic detail. It is as much 'in your face' as you can get. Probably there have been active attempts to make sure that we all forget and never see this film. So anyone who wants to beat the system should seek it out, if only for its bravery and challenge, by way of inspiration. Now, the role of 'the enforcers' is expanding and becoming so sinister that even the Stasi could never have dreamt of such total dominance of surveillance and control. Here we see the primitive 1971 version of the police state, the psychology of which is the same, even though the identities have been changed to expose the guilty.

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France | Italy



Release Date:

7 May 1971 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Los asesinos del orden See more »

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Color (Eastmancolor)
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