A Cop (1972) Poster

(1972)

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8/10
Not a smash finale (not that Melville knew this would be his last), but it's a must-see for genre fans
Quinoa198421 February 2005
Perhaps under-looked when looking at the career of the director Jean-Pierre Melville, Un Flic (called 'Dirty Money' in the states, but is also translated as 'A Cop' on the DVD I viewed) is a crime film that goes another step with the heist genre, another (smaller) step with the cop/robber relationship, and shows Melville in (mostly) complete control over his storytelling. There are elements that seem to have evolved (or devolved, whichever you prefer) in Melville's work with the three films going in descending order- Le Samourai, Le Cercle Rouge, and finally this film.

As this very loose trilogy progresses (a trilogy I mark just by the presence of Alain Delon, nothing more in common aside from the genre), one may notice how Melville progresses with his stylizing, how with each film he goes a little less with characterization and dialog. With Le Samourai it's half a character study, in Le Cercle Rouge there are snippets, here it's all based on the timing of the cuts and subtle reactions. In fact, there is so much of the film that goes without dialog that Melville proves himself to be an opposite of Tarantino- instead of being clever at dialog, he's clever at the plot twist, and more importantly at making note of the 'left-out' detail, letting the audience figure it out. While one can say this is not a great place for someone not familiar with Melville's work to start, it should not be a big disappointment.

The story is one you may have seen before, only here in far more calculated circumstances. Simon (Richard Crenna, in one of his better turns) is one of four who rob a seaside bank on a rainy, foggy afternoon. In one of Melville's most polished sequences, things go good and bad for them when one of the men is fatally wounded. Edouard Coleman (Alain Delon, not his best, but always keen at being icy) is on a case that coincides with another scheme Simon has, involving a suitcase heist on a moving train during the night. Not everything goes as planned, and the presence of a mutual love interest for the two (Catherine Deneuve, practically one-sided emotionally) only complicates things further, if not on the surface. This story is told very, very simply and without anything aside from the injection of mood onto every scene.

From the opening heist on, Melville still has his chops technically-wise almost all the way through the picture. And after reading an interview with him, something about the look of the film made sense (which he said before this film was made): "My dream is to make a color film in black and white, in which there is only one tiny detail to remind us that we really are watching a film in color." One feels that is what Melville is successfully experimenting with in this film, that the methods to which he and cinematographer Walter Wottizm get the scenes are not conventional. To correspond with some of the characters, the colors are cold, or distant, corresponding almost to the unforgiving underworld of Paris- some colors seem to almost blend together, the browns going along with the grays, and the brighter ones (sometimes merely in the background) feeling diluted.

That, and the crafty editing pulled by Patricia Neny (the suspense gets laid on thick in some scenes), make up for a couple of big liabilities- that Melville, on tight a budget that he was on, used models for the exteriors of the train sequence, and some scenes don't have a 'new-wave' feeling (i.e. filmed directly on location) but rather cheaply in the studio. Not to mention that the performances from Delon and Deneuve are not really at their peak (Crenna is another matter).

Still, the most pleasurable thing about a Melville film, whether its the poetic Les Enfants Terribles or the bittersweet Bob le Flambeur, is watching the story take on a life of its own. Some things you practically wait on if you've seen Le Cercle Rouge or Le Samourai, like a wild dancing number at a nightclub (here abridged), or a detail to remind everyone who the outsiders are in this world (here portrayed by Gaby).

As another tribute to the old-style crime films of the 30's and 40's its still tightly held together, with the pacing almost impeccable. In short, it's not a masterpiece of a crime film (Melville's last before his fatal heart attack), but it remains gripping thirty plus years later, with memorable qualities.
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8/10
The old economy still there
Chris Knipp7 August 2005
In Melville's last film, Alain Delon is a cop who pursues a small group of fortyish men who first rob a bank and then later intercept a large supply of drugs en-route to somewhere via a bag man on a train. The bank is beside a ruthless sea and the memorably bleached-out and forbidding opening scene is full of mist, rain, and wind that turn everything a sickly pastel. One of the robbers is wounded and they drive away with him -- a sequence that may have influenced Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs." But these men are as laconic as Quentin's are garrulous.

Nobody is morally pure in this story, or wholly evil. One of the robbers is a bank executive who's out of work and hides his wrongdoing from his worried wife. The cop, Edouard Coleman, whose ride is American, as is the robbers', is involved with crooked nightclub owner Simon's accomplice girlfriend, Cathy (Catherine Deneuve), who helps Simon clean up the mess when the robbery goes wrong. Edouard has to look the other way about her involvement. Her first appearance is ravishing: she slides sideways out of a doorway and pauses, framed there, looking perfectly beautiful. She slowly breaks into a smile as Coleman picks out a jazz ballad on the nightclub piano.

The drug mover who's intercepted is called "Matthew the Suitcase." The operation to steal his drugs is long and complicated and is "Un flic's" "Rififi" episode; it's more absorbing than the manhunt in "Le Cercle rouge," but the several plot strains are a bit disjointed.

Despite the ingenious drug heist, being a cop and being a crook are in a way just a job, a 'boulot' in "Un flic." Delon has some dash and dresses sharply but he lacks the panache of his character in "Le Samouraï." The robbers are dreary, determined fellows without the charisma of Yves Montand in "Le Cercle rouge." They're totally middle-aged and middle-class. This puts them on a par with most of the cops and perhaps illustrates Melville's epigraph, from pioneer French private eye (and former thief) François Eugène Vidocq, "The only emotion men awaken in a policeman are ambiguity and derision." This harmonizes with the viewpoint of the chief of police in Le Cercle rouge who repeatedly insists that everyone must be assumed to be guilty.

While that earlier chief of police worked out of a dark but cozy Victorian office, Coleman is in a bright modern building and has a phone in his car, but his well-lit office has a window on a brick wall. The dull routine of police work is signaled by the verbal rituals of the car-phone calls: His assistant always answers and says, "I'll pass you to him." Coleman listens, then says "Where's that?" and "We're going, I'll call you back later." The words never vary. And this flick about a "flic" never wavers from its economical unreeling that's worthy of the best Fifties noirs, despite being in faded blue-gray Technicolor. Melville got back one last time to the old brilliance. Even if the "noir" isn't quite noir, the mood is right, full of resignation and irony.

The plot doesn't quite parse, but neither did Le Doulos'. If it's true as Jack Mathews of the Daily News wrote about the reissued "Le Cercle rouge" that Melville's crime movies are "really about wearing raincoats and lighting up Gitanes and saying very little while being very loyal," then plot inconsistencies and even visual disparities not withstanding, it's still all good. And even if some of the earlier freshness and pungency were gone, in his last two films Melville showed even greater skill at editing and setting up his scenes. So if not canonical, Un flic is nonetheless another valuable work by this prince of darkness, this splendidly moody minimalist and inspirer of the French New Wave.
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9/10
Obsessive, ambitious, flawed...and thoroughly fascinating!
debblyst20 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
All right, all right, so "Un Flic" is "flawed" and not on the same level as "Le Samouraï" -- but then how many films are? Yes, it's "flawed", obsessive, ambitious, made by an artist who was on top of the world after a succession of critical and box-office hits and probably felt like risking more -- and he did! It's also unique, mesmerizing, to be watched over and over again. And (as always with Melville) it's cinema in its purest, most uncompromising form.

"Un Flic" was Melville's last film, made one year before his sudden, fatal heart attack. It's ambitious all right: it stars France's top stars of the 1970s (Alain Delon and Catherine Deneuve, she in a supporting role at a time when she NEVER did supporting roles); and for the first time -- probably with an eye on the US market -- Melville uses an American star, Richard Crenna, who delivers his lines in absolutely fluent French (though post-dubbed for accent reasons)

Talk about ambition and risk: Melville includes not one but TWO 20- minute-long, no-dialog, no-music heist scenes! The first one at the bank, by the rainy seashore, is a masterpiece of efficiency and atmosphere. Sadly, the second one with the helicopter/train is THE major flaw of the film, with its phony Thunderbird-like miniature models, especially difficult to accept in these our times of eye-popping CGI effects. It's also too long, it should have stayed out, though one can argue that it's probably the best-lit-miniature-model-heist-scene ever filmed!:)))

The plot in "Un Flic" is a pretext to present the duel between the two complex male characters: Alain Delon's ideal cop made in Noir Heaven, and Richard Crenna's mastermind-thief-posing-as-charming-night-club-owner. They're on opposite sides, but Melville wants us to notice their similarities: their striking physical resemblance (they could be brothers), their camaraderie (Delon can only relax at Crenna's classy joint), their sharing the same woman (Deneuve). They're both cool, elegant, efficient gentlemen, who use violence only as a last resource (though the violence here is implicit, with hardly a drop of blood in view, unlike bloodbath fiends and pseudo Melville fans Scorsese, Tarantino and Woo). They're both art connoisseurs and sensitive to beauty: Crenna goes to the Louvre, admires Van Gogh's self-portrait and wears top fashion; Delon plays jazz on the piano proficiently, dresses impeccably (for a cop) and recognizes a Maillol sculpture when he sees one. But they can also be tough as hell: Crenna doesn't blink when he plans the death of his wounded sidekick at the hospital, and Delon coldly waits for a man to commit suicide instead of preventing it.

Tough as they are, they're surprisingly open-minded when it comes to sex: Delon treats the robbed old homosexual and his teenage lover/thief with unflappable professionalism and even politeness, and is perfectly aware of the transvestite informer's crush on him (the transvestite's makeup and hair color resemble Deneuve's; insinuations galore). And in a revealing, silent scene at the bar, we can tell that the Deneuve-sharing is not an issue (yet).

But in Melville's world, affinities, friendship and "modern" sexual morals collapse when the code of honor between males is broken. Delon is OK with gay people and ménages-à-troi but not with Crenna betraying his trust and fooling him professionally. The Melville code comes from Westerns and Samurai movies; the price of betrayal is death. When Delon realizes he's been double-crossed, there's no place for mercy or compromise in his heart; revenge is the only way out, AND he has the law on his side.

A word about the acting: perhaps Delon doesn't seem very excited to play a cop -- who does? -- but his last 15 minutes are simply magnificent: just watch his face at the bar when he realizes Crenna is lying; it melts down with painful disillusion. And in the last scene over the closing credits, he drives his car drained of all life; he's broken inside, terribly lonely, an empty carcass. Crenna is subtle and properly sympathetic: cop-hater Melville clearly wants us to root for him. Apparently, Deneuve is there just to parade her amazing beauty, but check out the hospital "coup de grâce" scene: no angel of death was ever colder, blonder, more efficient or gorgeous. It makes us think once again what a shame she never worked for Hitchcock!

The visual pleasures in "Un Flic" are so many that multiple viewings are required: the elegant decors, the fabulous cars (that silver Jaguar!), the chic wardrobe and the city of Paris at its most stunning. There's a telling scene at the Louvre where Melville seems to be comparing himself to the great impressionists: his camera lingers on a painting with a very similar palette as his own (icy blues, pale gris, cold grays). It's a "coup de vanité" from a man who -- like the greatest visual artists -- managed to create an instantly recognizable world of his own through his obsessive themes, unique visual expression and fabulous technique.

The only way you can dislike "Un Flic" is if you're addicted to hyperactive, loud, chopped films; if you can appreciate moderato-paced subtlety and unique visual sophistication, you can do no wrong with this film. Melville's "flawed" work towers over thousands of brainless, spineless, bloody thrillers –- after all, "Un Flic" is signed by the one and only King of Cool. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.
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8/10
Melville's Swan Song is a Dank, Steely Crime Thriller with a Dreamlike Serenity.
jzappa10 October 2009
Un Flic, translated as A Cop, but rather known in English as Dirty Money, is essentially cool guy movie about man's men who are cops or robbers who smoke cigarettes, hang out in bars, do cool poses with guns and wear cool suits. But it is among the cream of that particular crop, and the reason is its stylistic subtlety and storytelling economy. It is not a feature-length music video like the Guy Ritchie films or an epic patchwork of references like those of Quentin Tarantino. It is utterly confident in its simplicity.

Plenty hold that master French crime filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville had reached his pinnacle long before this, his last film, and he definitely did. But Un Flic plays exquisitely with all his signature muteness, austere faces and bleak colors. Cinematographer Walter Wottitz eschews gloomy soliloquies and melodramatic dialogue for his steely color treatment. What few colors that do breeze in appear to exhale from the poignant grays. The characters barely speak, most conspicuously during the movie's twenty-minute intrepid train robbery sequence in which the robber is dropped onto a moving train via helicopter, performs the robbery and gets back on. The film spotlights two strikingly constructed heists, the other one in a bank. The first is the hold-up of an isolated Riviera small-town seacoast bank. Melville painstakingly films the unlawful act, and how it goes awry when a ballsy teller declines to be robbed without a fight.

Melville's moody, idiosyncratic swan song is an ascetic inkling of the young though despondent, headstrong Paris police chief played by a volatile, willful Alain Delon, who is going after bank robbers and a drug-smuggling ring among his everyday quota of crimes to which he has grown apathetic. But these two crimes, as he discovers later on, are link and affect his personal life. The gang leader is indeed his counterpart, Richard Crenna, an underhanded nightclub owner he became acquainted with while having a prevalent liaison with his coldly gorgeous wife Catherine Deneuve. She shows no fervor for either of her lovers, the impervious ice queen. Crenna plays the civil competitor with played by Crenna with the chivalrous air of a frequenter of coffee shops and theatres. Deneuve plays her character as someone not interested in dividing her lovers by good and bad, but by charming or tedious. And Delon remains Melville's trademark tenacious individualist.

It's a dismally ambient film noir with Melville linking his characters to the quiet panorama around them, as it is set in a neon-lit moist city outlook of despairing crooks who are getting old and need one last score to go out with dignity. Police brutality is understood casually as a truth of life, as are double-crosses among thieves. The film is shot in minimalist style, with the dialogue and the sets being scant, but not rawboned. Melville was a man of simple tastes, but idealistic, zealous, philosophical tastes at that. Un Flic, or Dirty Money, held my engrossment all through with a feeling of a dreamlike serenity before the brewing outburst.
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Underrated Melville effort
dj_bassett14 March 2004
Neglected Melville crime thriller isn't exactly good, but isn't bad either -- feels half-finished, more than anything. Crenna and Delon are friends; they're also on different sides of the law, with Delon a cop and Crenna secretly the head of a gang of thieves who specialize in risky heists. On the other hand, Delon is secretly carrying on with Catherine Denuve, Crenna's girlfriend. Plot too allusive for it's own good -- a bit more grounding of the characters are needed, since their motivations as it stands are opaque (why are Delon and Crenna friends? why is Delon carrying on with Deneuve? if Crenna knows, as he seems to, why is he allowing it? what does Denuve think of all this?). Low budget also hurts the movie -- the centerpiece of the film, an elaborate heist on board a moving train, looks phony and very cheap. (This is a rare movie that probably would benefit from a remake). On the other hand, Melville remains a master of gloomy atmosphere, the setpieces more or less work (the opening sequence, a bank robbery in a cold and rainy seaside town, is well done) and the actors all give it their best. Final shot of the movie is very well done.
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6/10
Gritty Police Story
claudio_carvalho6 February 2015
A gang formed by Simon (Richard Crenna), Paul Weber (Riccardo Cucciolla), Louis Costa (Michael Conrad) and Marc Albouis (André Pousse) heist a remote bank during a stormy afternoon. However Marc is seriously wounded and they leave him in a clinic after hiding the money in a sophisticated scheme. Meanwhile the cold Police Inspector Edouard Coleman (Alain Delon) is investigating the murder of a woman and his informer, the travesty Gaby (Valérie Wilson), tells about a shipment of heroin carried by the mule Suitcase Matthew (Léon Minisini) by the train to Lisbon. Then Coleman heads to a nightclub owned by Simon, who is his friend, to meet his mistress Cathy (Catherine Deneuve). When Simon learns that the police force is tracking down the wounded thief in hospitals and clinics and the dragnet will certainly find Marc, he goes with the gang and Cathy to kill him. Then Simon plots the robbery of Matthew's drug in the train using a helicopter. When Coleman intercepts Matthew, he does not find the drug shipment and believes that Gaby is not giving good information to him. But when Coleman discover that Marc Albouis is dead, he connects him to Louis Costa and then to the unemployed middle-aged banker Paul Weber and Simon. They bug Simon's telephone and Soleman heads to confront his friend.

"Un Flic", a.k.a. "Dirty Money", is a gritty police story and last movie by Jean-Pierre Melville. The story is cold, with few dialogs and the bank and train robberies are very well detailed through long scenes. Inspector Edouard Coleman is an emotionless character near the thin line between right and wrong. He sees his investigation of drugs entwining with the bank heist and the leader of the gang is his friend. Further Coleman and Simon share the same mistress that is capable to kill a man injecting air in his vein and this weird threesome seems to affect his last attitude. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Expresso para Bordeaux" ("Express Train to Bordeaux")

Note: On 18 My 2019, I saw this film again. My new vote is eight.
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Flowing in a steady and unflagging hypnosis
chaos-rampant1 November 2008
This is a film so good, in how it understands the minutiae of film, the mechanics as it were, and done with so much straight-forward conviction that it amazes deeply.

It is lean, the form refined, like a piece of wood patiently chiseled by the ebbs.

So as with previous Melville films, it is distant, surely cold, clinical business. It's about characters detached from the world they experience, content to glide through without attachments. A world as grey, dreary and sullen as the faces of the characters, one reflected in the other. The pace is minimalist and monotonous, the movie plodding along in a steady and unflagging hypnosis as if it does not progress at all.

It seems to hang suspended in the middle distance, the plot laconic in what it reveals as much as the dialogue, yet it flows towards its inevitable and cold end in an unnoticeable succession of undeviating changes. A phone-call, a newspaper clipping, a man setting down to eat in a restaurant. Before you know it a man is getting shot.

It's part slow erotic foreplay about cinematic crime, remember the scene with Deneuve and the gun, and part a feel that is the present moment unfettered by any including cinematic baggage. You just watch.
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'Dirty Money' is far from Melville's best, but I still think there's a lot to admire about it.
Infofreak26 April 2004
'Dirty Money' was Jean-Pierre Melville's last movie and many people find it to be a great disappointment. Me, I quite like it. Sure it isn't the masterpiece we'd all wish it to be, but it's definitely worth watching. Alain Delon, the star of Melville's 'Le Samourai' (regarded by most fans as Melville's best movie along with 'Bob Le Flambeur'), plays Coleman, a detached cop who is having an affair with his friend Simon's girlfriend (Catherine Deneuve). Simon (Richard Crenna) is actually a thief, the leader of a small three man team. We see them commit two robberies, one is a bank near the sea in the brilliant opening sequence, the other an ambitious heist on a train involving a helicopter. This scene isn't as exciting as it should have been with budgetary constraints letting Melville down. The first robbery is a real stand out however and I recommend 'Dirty Money' for this if nothing else. The movie's dialogue and characterization are very minimalistic, and this is probably the main reason why many find it to be unsatisfying. The relationship between the three main characters is never explained or explored. Neither is the Coleman's with his informant, a beautiful transsexual. Melville doesn't spell things out, the viewer has to do the hard work, but I don't mind that at all. 'Dirty Money' is far from Melville's best, but I still think there's a lot to admire about it. Melville is an acknowledged influence on Truffaut, Jarmusch, Woo, Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson and his movies deserve to be better known.
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8/10
A Luminous Heist Film
blakiepeterson2 May 2015
Career criminals wear fedoras and trenchcoats like its 1945 and they're attending a Robert Mitchum impersonation competition. Rain isn't weather; it's sexytime music for a cocaine heist. The world is covered in an uncompromising azure mist that squeezes the life out of every possibility of beauty, whether that beauty is reaching Catherine Deneuve's white blonde demeanor or an enticingly French city street. A Jean-Pierre Melville directed crime film rests in a middle-ground of romanticization and adamant realism; it climaxes at the nearest sight of a Humphrey Bogart photograph, but it's also interested in telling a story where a robbery can be delivered with seamless perfection ... but that doesn't mean that a pessimistic cop won't catch up with you in the end in a hazardously bloody fashion.

Un Flic is a relatively minor Melville film (especially putting Bob le Flambeur and Le Cercle Rouge into consideration), but it's ravishing all the same. Like the problematic comprehensibility of The Big Sleep, it isn't worried about tight narrative. It's about temperament and atmosphere, and it's safe to say that the ambiance of Un Flic is penetrative enough to make your bones break. There's something uneasy that leaks from the ghost blue of the cinematography and Richard Crenna's depressed eyes; the placid slickness of it all can only reach so far before someone is shot.

Telling the interconnecting stories of a tireless cop (Alain Delon) and a nightclub owner (Crenna) who pulls off massively intricate jobs with big payoffs, Un Flic is squalid enough to make us squirm; criminals walk right under the noses of the police, while the police, as well-meaning as they are, are confined to a purgatory of law-breaking with payoffs that brings no one pleasure. In so many other crime films, there's a notion that once the main villains are locked up, the heroes are left satisfied, ready for their next big adventure. But Un Flic exists in an entirely different universe. The chasing and capturing of criminals is tiring, redundant even. Who is having more fun: the sinners, or the rule- followers?

Initially, the film seems as though it's going to transform into a full- fledged exercise in film noir style. Cigarettes are tossed around, liquor is spilled, and femme fatales are easy to come by. But the closer we get to the conclusion, we begin to realize something: Delon's character, Edouard Coleman, isn't a James Bond or a Frank Bullitt or a Harry Callahan. He is a man, a man who was intrigued by enforcing the law many moons ago but is finally growing restless from the unavoidable sleazy details he sees on a day to day basis. Behind his eyes is a glassy emptiness; if he were to throw away his badge this very moment, what difference would it make?

I suppose Un Flic's melancholy edge is what gives it such a lasting impression. The story is too complicated to easily follow and the style is one and the same with Melville's other films. But that blue, that blue, is disturbing. Unlike black-and-white, it gives reality a grit never seen by the naked eye. Crime doesn't pay and don't we know it, but in Un Flic, even renowned actors like Alain Delon and Catherine Deneuve can hardly live in a world this hopeless.
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9/10
very stylish
RanchoTuVu15 December 2005
What takes place occurs in a determined and efficient manner, and things don't always go according to plan, but the participants resolutely carry out their assignments. The opening bank robbery is a prime example: a taciturn group of five men led by Richard Crenna rob a seaside bank on a very windy and rainy day. They're all business, from the drive up the street, to each member leaving the car at timed intervals, into the rain and wind, and walking into the bank. When the job starts to go bad, they finish as best they can and drive off into the storm. Later, Crenna is lowered from a helicopter onto a moving train in the middle of the night in order to rob a bag man of the drugs he's carrying. No one says a word, it's all action. It may be laughably fake looking, but it's done very seriously, even when Crenna combs his hair not out of vanity but in order to look less suspicious. This is the mood Melville perfected and Walter Hill recreated so well in The Driver. It's very stripped down, deliberate, and spontaneous. The actors don't say too much, the violence is extremely matter of fact, and everyone goes off into the sunset in their own existential worlds if they don't die first. Which isn't to say that there isn't a story here, there is, one concerning Crenna and cop Alain Delon, and Catherine Denueve, and enough character development to flesh out Crenna's associates quite well, each of them, while also providing for a great dancing scene in Crenna's night club, his strained friendship with Delon, Delon's almost fatalistic approach to policing, all done without the benefit of many words, just a director with a certain style and aesthetic, a very good camera man, and a nice soundtrack.
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7/10
Rhapsody In Blue
slokes22 February 2017
Can a soufflé still taste good, even a trifle underbaked and missing an ingredient or two? The answer depends on the cook.

Late one rainy afternoon, four men rob a bank in the French coastal town of St.-Jean-de-Monts, not without deadly complications. The lead crook, Simon (Richard Crenna), leads a double life as the owner of a French nightclub. One of his regulars is a quiet police inspector named Coleman (Alain Delon). In time, their lines of work will shake their friendship like nothing else, not even Coleman's affair with Simon's wife, Cathy (Catherine Deneuve).

"Un flic" (A Cop), also known as "Dirty Money," is a film about the dehumanizing nature of police work. Coleman is suave but conflicted, willing to slap around a suspect or even a suspected suspect but not so hardened as not to be conflicted about that.

"This job makes us skeptical," his deputy Morand (Paul Crauchet) notes as the pair leave a morgue.

"Especially about skepticism," Coleman replies.

Director Jean-Pierre Melville was a leading light of the New Wave movement, and his commitment to impressionistic pure cinema is on strong display right at the outset. We open on the sound of crashing waves, filling the screen with blue. The car with Simon and the other robbers moves slowly into position. With rain crashing around them on an empty street, three of the four men wordlessly get out in turn to take their positions in the bank.

A short but portentous scene is played out through their eyes. Simon's are committed but apprehensive. The old pro who joins him first, Marc Albouis (André Pousse), reads cool and empty. In the car, a former bank manager named Paul (Ricardo Cucciolla) hesitates while the driver, Louis (Michael Conrad) looks at him hard. You can see the fear in Paul's eyes as he reluctantly leaves the vehicle to play his part.

What is up with this scene? It features four French robbers, only one of whom is actually played by a Frenchman. Here, and in many other ways, Melville was clearly doing things his way, establishing meticulous realism in some scenes only to abandon it in others, most notably in a later train heist which features some fine suspense work but was clearly filmed with models.

The weakest element for me in this movie is not the Tyco episode itself, but how it is integrated into the rest of the film. We have little idea how the train heist is being done, or why it leads to the final act the way it does. Yet its aftermath proves central to everything, by which time Melville is giving us not riddles but koans.

Though employing real locations and real-time sequences, Melville doesn't seem nearly as interested in telling a solid crime story, with motives and meanings laid out. His film, like the dialogue sprinkled through it, remains elliptical all the way through.

"We're doomed victims, the prey of actual pros," is something a blackmailed homosexual tells Coleman, which serves as a kind of motif for the film. I don't think "Un flic" sells the idea as well as it thinks. If Coleman is a victim, it's of his own hard code.

But "Un flic" keeps you watching and makes you think. And while casting an American as the lead crook and another as his key partner seems a strange conceit, dubbed as they necessarily are, both Crenna and Conrad make it work, playing their parts with the same elegant drabness that underscores every scene. Crenna's Simon is one character you come to care about, if only a little. Delon may be a trifle too mopey, but makes for an enigmatic center.

As a crime story, it's pretty decent. As a cinematic tone poem, it's much better.
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8/10
a gritty look at crime and police life
cafescott21 June 2013
Un Flic is a French gangster caper film with many intriguing qualities. Visually, it is really interesting. The color choices demand repeated viewing. I like how there are seldom light colors seen (except for Deneuve's platinum hair and the smuggled cocaine). The muted color scheme generates a lot of gritty atmosphere to help draw you into Melville's nightmarish vision.

The plot is difficult to follow. I'm not really sure about several key points. For example, police officer (chief?) Coleman (Alain Delon) learns the name of the gangster the others had killed in a hospital. From that piece of information, they quickly trap the driver/helicopter pilot at a restaurant? Also, with the physically imposing driver/pilot in police custody, how does Coleman manage to break his spirit sufficiently to nab the rest of the gang? Torture would be needed, but no information is supplied to confirm it was used.

Much has been said about the obviously fake model train and helicopter that Melville shows for the second heist scene. I'm fine with it. (Gosh only knows how much it would cost to lease a train, a helicopter and pilots for a day.) The relationship between Delon's Coleman and Richard Crenna's Simon is a major theme. Coleman is a world-weary and cynical policeman who will employ brutal methods to solve crimes. Simon is an energetic and brave gangster/bank robber. Coleman is more romantically interesting to Catherine Deneuve's Cathy. However, Simon's courage during heist #2 probably wins the audience over. At the film's end we tend to like Simon more than Coleman.

Deneuve's Cathy is one of the richest small roles in screen memory. She's not on the screen for many minutes, but when she is, Cathy is a devastatingly enthralling femme fatale.

For a gritty, Hellish view of police and crime life; with three strong performances; along with a few toy trains and a helicopter, 'Un Flic' is One Crime Flick worth seeing.
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3/10
Melville hits rock bottom
MOscarbradley8 April 2007
Jean-Pierre Melville hit rock bottom with this, his final film, a drab policier about the symbiotic relationship between a world-weary cop, (Alain Delon, far from his best), and a gangster, (the American actor, Richard Crenna, not half bad), and the woman they are both seeing, (Catherine Deneuve, totally wasted). It starts promisingly with a bank robbery in an almost deserted, wind-swept, rainy seaside town and the set piece is a drugs heist on board a train but Melville doesn't generate any excitement. The relationship between the two men is never fully explored and the train robbery is filmed with a total disregard for realism, (it's all models and studio sets and very poor at that). There is also a somewhat tawdry homophobic element running through the film, (one of the cases Delon investigates, and superfluous to the plot, is that of a lip-smacking middle-aged gay man robbed by his underage bit of trade; Delon's informer is a transvestite). It's also haphazardly put together; you feel as if it's been cut down from a longer, not necessarily, better film. And at 95 minutes, it's still too long.
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8/10
also known as "Dirty Money"
blanche-223 June 2013
"Dirty Money" is a film of several titles, "A Cop" and "Un flic," but it all adds up to the last film of Jean-Pierre Melville, written and directed by him, a noir starring Alain Delon and Richard Crenna - and Crenna speaks French, no less, though I understand he spoke French with accent and was dubbed later.

The film begins with a bank robbery that takes place in a seaside town. One of the robbers is badly wounded and eventually is taken to a clinic. The leader of the gang is Simon (Crenna), who owns a nightclub. And this robbery is nothing -- he's got something bigger, much bigger planned.

Police Commissioner Edouard Coleman (Delon), a habitué of Simon's nightclub, is on the case. Handsome and smooth-looking, he's not above slapping his transvestite informant or anyone else, for that matter. He and Simon are in love with the same woman, Cathy (the stunning Catherine Deneuve, somewhat wasted in a supporting role) and come into contact at the club. Simon is playing a dangerous game.

What makes this film so fabulous are the non-speaking/non-music sequences, sometimes 20 minutes in length. Absolutely fascinating - my favorite was Simon lowered onto a moving train via helicopter, changing his clothes, hiding them, committing robbery, changing his clothes again, and being lifted back onto the helicopter. FANTASTIC.

Don't miss this - fascinating, absorbing, and exciting.
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5/10
a sad ending to a mixed career.
christopher-underwood15 October 2020
This begins so beautifully. A long, seemingly empty, modern seafront building and a road empty but for the one car. Ahead we can see through the sea mist and rain the lights of a bank and the car with four guys with hats and coats inside, pulls up. The raid is economically carried out and immaculatley filmed. The immediate aftermath is fine but things soon start to go wrong as director Jean-Pierre Melville retreats inside the studio and even, reputedly, within his own self made hut upon the set and avoiding unnecessary contact with the crew. He makes his script girl wear a wig as he doesn't like her hair and is at loggerheads with Alain Delon who appears visibly withdrawn upon the screen. Catherine Deneuve is criminally underused with just a flash of those big bright eyes and smile. There is a plodding element creeping in and when we get to what might have been the highlight, the railway heist, it all becomes laughable. An all too obvious toy train and plastic helicopter dance before us whilst a very silly and extremely protracted procedure of getting aboard, getting changed, getting changed back and getting off again, is played out before us, never mind the prank with the over large magnet. Melville dies shortly after the film is finished and it proves a sad ending to a mixed career.
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9/10
Forget Hitchcock and Hawks!
Sorsimus18 March 2001
Films are often discussed in terms of genre. Most people view genre films as something that relates to Hollywood. Musical, Film Noir, Western... European cinema at the same time is often remembered as the cinema of the artist where each film is a one off event where the "message" transmitted dictates the visual form rather than its production as a generic film.

Nowadays the concensus is that the best of the Hollywoods generic films, such as Singin' in the Rain, The Big Sleep or The Searchers, stand comparison to the canon European filmmaking. However little attention has been given to generic films made in Europe.

If we leave aside national cinemas and genres and turn our attention to "Hollywood" genres in europe we find a couple of overlooked geniuses of cinema like Jacques Demy, Sergio Leone and the director of Un Flic: Jean- Pierre Melville.

They made generic films with a European twist: they borrowed from their more recognised colleagues the practice of only showing the essential. They learned their genres so well they were able to see what was essential. However where Godard or Bresson tried to understand what makes film a film and to make viewers aware of them watching a film Melville and Demy aimed at finding out why on earth Hollywood genre films can be so entertaining.

It is so difficult to understand why the French critics spend years of examining Hitchcock and legitimising our pleasure of watching genre films but totally neglect Melville and Demy.

As far as Un Flic goes, it is just a great film. I dare anyone who likes film noir to watch the opening bank robbery scene in the deserted Riviera holiday town in the middle of winter with the robbers' black buick sedan gliding on the rainy boulevard and not feel compelled to see the rest. Pretty much the same goes with the rest of his mature output, too.

Do yourself a favour and see this. And the Umbrellas of Cherbourg, too. (that's by Demy)
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10/10
Superb Crime Movie
Eumenides_024 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
When I saw Le Samourai several weeks ago, I felt disappointment with the incomprehensible behavior of a supposedly-brilliant hit-man. He seemed to do everything to get caught by the police and then the movie ended in contrived fatalism. I hadn't seen such sloppy storytelling and characterization in a while.

Were it not for Jean-Pierre Melville's technical skills, I wouldn't have bothered with Un Flic. Fortunately Melville's visual style appealed to much to me I just had to watch more of his movies. After watching Un Flic, I don't regret that decision.

Melville not only has improved his technical craftsmanship but his storytelling abilities too. He shoots the movie with a washed-out blue look, in a Paris beset by never-ending rain. It's a dark, cold world, much like his characters, cops, criminals and prostitutes. He takes time to set up scenes, doesn't abuse the editing, allowing scenes to drag out so the viewer can absorb all the details. Even better he doesn't abuse the dialogue; his characters are introspective men of action who communicate with looks and actions. Most of the movie is told through visuals; the dialogue is sparse, succinct and the point.

The story itself is ordinary: four robbers heist a bank, one of them gets wounded and is dropped at a hospital This sets up the eventual downfall of the group as they prepare a new heist, unawares that the cops are slowly closing in on them. To make things more complicated, there's an awkward love triangle between the criminal mastermind Simon (Richard Crenna), Cathy (Catherine Deneuve) and Comissioner Coleman (Alain Delon).

I don't doubt Alain Delon was the main pull: he was a popular star in France at the time. But he does nothing for me. It's really Robert Crenna, an otherwise mediocre actor in his own country, who delivers an amazing performance as an intelligent, daring, likable criminal who runs a nightclub and organises elaborate heists. Fascinating as he may be, though, I give Melville credit for not glamourising criminals. Following these men around one realises they're lonely, hopeless people who have nowhere else to turn. That's especially obvious in one of the criminals, a 60-year-old jobless husband who lies to his wife about going out to look for work. How distant he is from the modern movie criminals who flaunt themselves as media celebrities.

Another thing I give Melville credit for is for making this movie truly fatalistic. in Le Samourai I never thought Jeff Costello had reached the end of the line; he just gives up when he had many ways to get out. But in this movie, Simon knows his end has arrived and still he fights on. For me that's true fatalism, fighting against the certainty of failure.

With a renewed interest in Melville's movies, I can't wait to watch the rest of them.
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5/10
From the sublime to the ridiculous
StevieGB24 July 2003
Jean-Pierre Melville directed some great stuff and some awful stuff, but never did he manage to combine the two as he does in this movie. The opening twenty minute bank robbery in a near deserted seaside town in the pouring rain is amazing, probably the single best setpiece he ever directed. From then on, though, it's all pretty much downhill. Delon lacks his usual presence and appears to be on autopilot (in total contrast to Le Cercle Rouge and Le Samourai); it's a competent performance, but I've rarely seen an actor look so bored. Perhaps he was unsure about the almost total lack of dialogue in the film, which is a shame, as this is one of its few interesting plus points. Many of the scenes take place against obviously painted studio backdrops, which is especially grating given that the opening is so well done. And most laughably of all, the "highlight" of the film, a daring robbery in real time, in which a thief is dropped from a helicopter onto a moving train and then picked up again, is done with models, and looks like an amateurish version of Thunderbirds.

If someone could steal the opening sequence (or 'reference' it) and do the helicopter robbery properly, there's a good remake waiting to be done. Until then, we'll just have to settle for a great lesson in how to open a film.
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Indifference and derision.
bobsgrock6 June 2011
Of Jean-Pierre Melville's earlier masterpiece Le Samouri, Roger Ebert described it as "nothing absolutely original... except for the handling of the material." This is certainly true of nearly all of Melville's films, who was fascinated with American crime dramas and noirs, right down to the very essence of the details. His protagonists (or antagonists) of sorts frequently dress as Bogart or other Hollywood lead men with their fedora hats, khaki trench coats complete with smoldering looks and hard-boiled attitudes.

Much like Le Cercle Rouge and Bob le Flambeur, Melville obsesses over the details of his characters, far more interested in those than their overall motivations or actions. Indeed, frequently, Melville douses us with very long sequences (in Le Cercle Rouge it is almost 30 minutes) of dialogue-free situations that crank up the tension of the film simply by indulging us with every movement these characters make. Often it is depicting a crime of sorts, such as a jewelery store or bank robbery, which only heightens our interest in what is going to happen next. Because Melville was much more concerned with tension than action, the payoffs of these scenes often feels deflated and a let-down, most notably because American audiences are so used these days to being pummeled with all action and little to no tensional buildup that we sit there waiting for the action that never comes. This is exactly what Melville desires.

Overall, this is perhaps the most ambitious of Melville's films and, unfortunately, his last. The lead actors are quite good, especially American star Richard Crenna and French legend of cool Alain Delon. Catherine Deneuve also makes a small appearance, although the film could have benefited greatly had she been used more extensively. Still, Melville is able to wow us simply with his crisp editing, sharp and focused direction and the wonderful cold existential characters we come to expect from his work. Nowadays, Melville is beginning to be recognized further as one of the great French directors and a direct forefront of the French New Wave. Even without that great distinction, he still is an author that needs to be remembered and revisited.
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7/10
A very good film....but why the crappy models starting at the 53 minute point in the film?!
planktonrules12 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
When this film first began, I was pretty pleased. I loved the dialog and the look of the crooks (with trench coats and fedora hats)--it was almost like a late 40s-50s example of film noir but in color. It's obvious that director Melville was trying to copy, to an extent, this retro look and style.

If you are an American, the first thing you'll probably notice apart from some noir touches is that two of the gang members in this film are American actors whose lines are all dubbed into French. Richard Crenna and Michael Conrad (from "Hill Street Blues") have major parts in the film. This isn't super surprising as it was pretty common in Europe for studios to use American actors and dub their lines--especially in Italian films. My assumption is that the American actors' star power helped ticket sales, though in some of these cases the actors did NOT contribute well to the film. In some cases this is because the dubbing was done very poorly--fortunately, in this film it's pretty good.

The film consists of showing the crime and investigation from two alternating views--the crooks and the cop (Alain Delon). The film bounces back and forth quite often but manages to do this effectively. The caper is a bank robbery in which one of the gang members is shot. However, it's clear they are professionals and they've taken a lot of steps to cover their tracks and effectively hide the loot. Interestingly, however, there turn out to be a few twists. First, the initial robbery was not THE big score in the film--this would come later. Second, while the scene made little sense (why sneak into a hospital to kill a guy you could have killed much easier before YOU dropped him off at the hospital in the first place?!), it was an wild twist to see how the handled the gang member who was shot. This scene with the beautiful Catherine Deneuve was quite shocking...and effective. Third, Delon's role turns out to intersect with the gang in a way you might not expect.

Unfortunately, while the film is handled very well in most ways and shows how wonderfully you can make a film with such economy of language (there is VERY little dialog in the film), a major problem in the movie starts at the 53 minute point. The action switches to a train and you see one of the sloppiest uses of models I've seen since the last time I watched a Godzilla film! It looks just a kid's HO-gauge train set and a cheap helicopter model---which is exactly what they must be! Pretty sloppy. What also bothers me about this is that I noticed some score of 10 among the reviews. How can you give a film a 10 with such sloppy effects? I don't expect mega-million dollar effects, but this was just botched badly and looks bad...and a 10 would seem to imply perfection or at least near-perfection. Plus, plot-wise, don't you think someone on the train would have noticed a helicopter hovering just a few yards above the train for so long?! Fortunately, following these dumb scenes the film DID get better! Up until the silly scenes, I might have given this film a 9. However, considering how many scenes were done with crappy looking models, I think a fair overall score is 7 as it still held my interest. Pretty good and with a lot of potential to be a lot better--unfortunately, it's not among Melville's best though it turned out to be his last.
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7/10
Nice and intriguing French thriller filtered through American hard-nosed trademarks
ma-cortes20 April 2022
Great Jean Pierre Melville's special achievement , giving a memorable work , Un Flic 1992 was to relocate the American Gangster Film in France and to incorporate his own philosophical obsessions and steely poetic sentiment . Dealing with two set-pieces heists , both of them are ingeniously planned and meticulously filmed as ever . Meanwhile , a psychotic French cop chasing his alter ego , a night- club owner : Richard Crenna and chasing him across a darkening urban lanscape, but he happens to be his best friend. Then things go wrong , resulting in fateful consequences .It results to be a bitter meditation on defeat , deceiving and disenchantment . Melville described this , his penultime movie as a digest of the gloomy definitive underworld set-ups that could be found in John Huston's classic of doomed gangsters, "The Asphalt Jungle" . Darker , more abstract and desolate than his early works , this shows , set piece by set piece, the breakdown of the criminal codes under which Melville's roles have formerly operated . It worth seeing , specially the film's central sequence , a superbly executed train robbery. Delon is excellent as the expressionistless , silent , violent cop , similar to role played in Le Samourai 1967 playing a cold killer . Delon has striven in vain to repeat this success in several subsequent films at the same genre , likewise other known actors like Lino Ventura, Jean Paul Belmondo and usually directed by Henry Vernuil , Jose Giovanni or Jacques Deray. The main and support cast are really magnificent with full of familiar faces , the French Alain Delon , Catherine Deneuve as the glacial girlfriend , Simone Valere , Paul Crauchet , Jean Desailly , one Italian : Ricard Cucciolla and two American actors : Richard Crenna, Michael Conrad.

This motion picture following the American thriller conventions was well directed by Jean Piere Melville, it is stylistically his most pared-down , being his thirteenth and last film, as well as one of the best Melville's thrillers . Melville started as a post-war forerunner of the prestigious "Nouvelle Vague" , but he left this style in various different ways as a purveyor of a certain kind of Film Noir and eventually creating his own company and a tiny studio. His pictures and peculiar talent are very copied and much-admired by contemporary filmmakers who pay ordinary tributes in their films . From his first work : "Le Silence de la Mar" , Melville depeloped progressive and increasing more and more perfect directing skills , including notorious pictures , such as : "Les Enfants Terribles" , "Bob Le Flambeur" or "Bob the Gambler" , "Deux Hommes dans Manhattan" , "León Morin Priest" , "The Finger Man" , "Second Breath" , "The Samuraii" , "The Army in the Shadows" , "The Red Circle" and "Un Flic" or "Dirty Money" . Rating : 7/10 . Better than average . The flick will appeal to Alain Delon , Catherine Deneuve fans and Polar or French Film Noir enthusiasts.
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10/10
Melville's last stand. .
searchanddestroy-113 April 2020
I have always been and always will be among the Melville's most dedicated fans. There is no one day in my life when I don't think about him, his spirit, his soul, his exceptional gift he had, despite the fact that maybe in private life, he has been sometimes a very nasty man, which was not useful to be talented, I agree. I sometimes go visiting his grave in Pantin Parisian cemetery; it is easy to find with a map provided at the main entry, ask the guardian. So back to this film, despite the fact that the train heist sequence, with the fake train and helicopter, is totally clumsy, I love this film. The master's last stand. But I wonder. Yes, I wonder what would have become of him, IF ONLY MELVILLE HAD LIVED beyond 56. Yes, what would have become his career beyond the seventies? I can't imagine Melville's world and so specific atmosphere surviving in the eighties and nineties. NO, I CAN'T. But maybe am I wrong after all. Look closely. Most of his best films were made between late sixties and early seventies, just in the middle of the worldwide "gloomy mood" concerning the movie industry, including of course the US films. So, after all, this so gloomy Melvillian atmosphere was in the "right fashion". But that's my own analysis. I do not pretend to be right.
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Sober and exact
Cristi_Ciopron21 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I've seen this movie for its director (the famed Melville) and for Mrs. Deneuve;she got a bit part,but an unimportant and decorative one,as a demure lady.It is,indeed,Mrs. Deneuve;but it could also be anyone else.

The story is deliberately prosaic and banal:a gangster,shot during a hold-up,is killed in the hospital by his partners,but since the man had a police record,the cops find his name.The commissar Coleman knows who was that gangster's friend;this way,he gets the whole gang.Nothing sensational,as you see,but very prosaic and anodyne.This banality is intentional.

The movie describes,accurately,first a bank hold-up,and its consequences; then,a plunder on train; then,the arresting of the gang. The police inspector Coleman and Simon,the chief of the gang,are acquaintances.

The narration is sober and exact.The plot is simple.The film is fast-paced by narrating minutely few facts (e.g.,the train operation).The director takes his time.

The movie is made in bluish nuances and tones.

Delon is a tough,icy cop,and has a poker face.

My mother,with whom I've seen this movie,liked Crenna's acting.
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7/10
Fashion and architecture
meneerkras25 March 2015
For a police thriller, this movie chose the strange angles of architecture and fashion from which to tell the story. Throughout, the film actively tries to showcase a new, modern France. In the weird opening sequence, we see a sea-side resort with an endless row of brand-new apartment blocks, totally void of human presence in a foul winter-weather. Strangely, from afar, a shop in one of the buildings seem open. Because of the abundant lighting, we might be tempted to think it's a bar, but it's a bank (about to be robbed). The police headquarters is another modern building given lots of camera-attention by Melville, who seems to juxtapose this 'new' France to the old; the contrasts with scenes of the 'old Paris' such as the closing scenes at the Arc de Triomphe are great.

The male characters seem to spend an inordinate amount of time to groom their looks. Both Alain Delon and the excellent bad guy Richard Crenna (Simon) are given lengthy shots showing them combing their hair. They parade around in flawless suits, slick ties, lush bathrobes, gold cuff links. These are sharp dressed men, vain and self-obsessed, misogynist and gay-bashing. The gorgeous can-can girls are there (like in so many other Melville movies) but no-one seems to notice them. Delon manipulates a beautiful transvestite into thinking he might fall for her charms, only to beat her up when she fails to deliver on a promise.

Catherine Deneuve on the other hand seems less well served, sartorially speaking; I was not very impressed with her acting performance in this film, but perhaps my judgment is influenced by the ugly earrings she wears throughout. The closing titles highlight that the black dress worn by 'Mademoiselle Deneuve' was by Yves Saint Laurent. I don't know why this was pointed out, since the dress is hideous. Deneuve's finest moment was when she plays an angel of death, wearing a haute couture caricature of the nurse uniform. Quentin Tarantino must have been directly inspired by this to create Daryl Hannah's nurse look when she is set to murder Uma Thurman at the start of Kill Bill vol 1.

All in all, the plot was not that interesting, but since the male actors were all in terrific form it was a very pleasurable movie to watch.
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Brilliantly clinical film as icy and beautiful as it's leads, Deneuve and Delon.
TheVid8 April 2003
Melville in masterful form with another gangster noir, this one a controlled heist flick with a superb cast. The stylish photography predates the moody, colorless visuals that permeate all kinds of American genre films today. Very impressive.
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