Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
France/Italy, 1967. Compagnie Industrielle et Commerciale Cinématographique, Fida Cinematografica, Filmel, T.C. Productions. Screenplay by Jean-Pierre Melville, Georges Pellegrin, based on the novel The Ronin by Joan McLeod. Cinematography by Henri Decae. Produced by Raymond Borderie, Eugene Lepicier. Music by Francois de Roubaix. Production Design by Francois de Lamothe. Film Editing by Monique Bonnot, Yolande Maurette. Podcast: My Criterions.
This Jean-Pierre Melville masterpiece displays why Alain Delon has been such an iconic figure in the cinema since he first burst forth as a matinee idol. He plays a lone wolf gun-for-hire who shoots a nightclub owner on assignment and is picked up by the police as a suspect for it. Having already planted an ironclad alibi with a sympathetic female (Nathalie Delon, at that point Alain’s wife), he is surprised to find that the club’s gorgeous pianist (Cathy Rosier) is willing to help exonerate him despite the fact that she knows better. His desire to get to know this mysterious angel and get revenge on those who once hired him and now want to kill him is played against the cat-and-mouse game initiated when the intelligent head of police (François Périer, solid as ever) reveals that he doesn’t believe Delon’s alibi one bit. Gorgeous, muted colours shot to perfection by the great Henri Decae and scintillating direction by the masterful Melville make for one of the most impressive and stylish thrillers ever made. This movie pretty much runs on cool for fuel.