Monday, 30 June 2014

JUNE 30. 2014

LE DEUXIEME SOUFFLE/ Second Breath (1966) Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. ****

LE SAMOURAI / The Samurai (1967) Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. *****

My introduction to the world of Jean-Pierre Melville came at a lunchtime screening of SECOND BREATH in a private viewing theatre in Wardour Street circa 1967. The film had been bought by the company I worked for and to this day I am convinced they never understood what a gem they had. For my part I was hypnotised by the movie. A year or so later LE SAMOURAI somehow managed to get a general release and it just blew me away. A few nights ago I watched both films again and the intervening years have done nothing to diminish my admiration for either. Over the years I have managed to see the majority of Melville's movies from his first LE SILENCE DE LA MER, LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES and ARMY IN THE SHADOWS and, of course his other classic gangster dramas, BOB LE FLAMBEAU, LE CERCLE ROUGE and LE DOULOS. Only his final film, UN FLIC, disappointed me - but maybe I need to see it again. Melvilles gangsters exist in a world of violence which has its own rules of honour and loyalty although both are, for the most part, illusory and are paid lip service to in much the same way as his characters adopt the trenchcoats and fedoras of their Hollywood counterparts. Then there are the iconic actors - Jean-Paul Belmondo, Alain Delon, Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Yves Montand and Gian-Maria Volonte. Just-perfect Melville.

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