Le samouraï  (1967)

PopGap #07: Le samouraï (1967)

 
By dorrk, July 29th 2015
The Flickchart 150: Movies so great, that we’ve missed or forgotten them; #10/17

Global Flickchart Rank: #82
My Flickchart Rank: #324

I don't know if I've ever seen a Jean Pierre Melville movie before watching Le samouraï for this month's PopGap (Bob le Flambeur sounds somewhat familiar), and it's definitely whetted my appetite for more. From Alain Delon's fragile deadpan, to Melville's cold distance and François de Roubaix's sub-jazz electronic score, this movie both earns its rep as an enduring model of "cool" and also, surprisingly, delivers an emotionally satisfying crime thriller.

Delon stars as Jef, a contract killer who restricts himself to only the most Spartan lifestyle possible: no friends, just alibis; no possessions, except for a bird; nothing to do except kill. However, even the most calculated plans run the risk of unpredictable obstacles, and one loose thread threatens to unravel the very deliberate nothingness of Jef's existence.

Le samouraï's thorough and entrancing style has obviously been hugely influential on generations of pulp filmmakers, including Michael Mann, Quentin Tarantino and, most recently, Nicholas Windig Refn (whose popular Drive reads like a stalker's love letter to Melville). But Melville adds a key component that most of his imitators miss: Jef's stony facade is only skin deep, barely maintained and increasingly see-through by the end. He's never depicted as a robotic angel of death; try as he might, he remains inescapably human, making the film as emotionally engaging as it aesthetically stunning.

Le samouraï also features Cathy Rosier and Nathalie Delon. Prolific composer de Roubaix was only in his late 20s, and would be dead within the next decade.

Trailer for Le samouraï (1967)



PopGap
Wire Creative Web Site Management
Dorrk
Dorrk Dot com
Santa's Li'l Gimp
The Godfather

The Top 20 Movies of All-Time

#1: The Godfather Part II (1974)

#1: The Godfather Part II (1974)

Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
#2: The Godfather (1972)

#2: The Godfather (1972)

Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
#3: West Side Story (1961)

#3: West Side Story (1961)

Dir: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise
#4: Manhattan (1979)

#4: Manhattan (1979)

Dir: Woody Allen
#5: The Graduate (1967)

#5: The Graduate (1967)

Dir: Mike Nichols
#6: Tootsie (1982)

#6: Tootsie (1982)

Dir: Sydney Pollack
#7: Apocalypse Now (1979)

#7: Apocalypse Now (1979)

Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
#8: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

#8: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Dir: Irvin Kershner
#9: Star Wars (1977)

#9: Star Wars (1977)

Dir: George Lucas
#10: The Exorcist (1973)

#10: The Exorcist (1973)

Dir: William Friedkin
#11: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

#11: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Dir: Peter Jackson
#12: Taxi Driver (1976)

#12: Taxi Driver (1976)

Dir: Martin Scorsese
#13: Annie Hall (1977)

#13: Annie Hall (1977)

Dir: Woody Allen
#14: Vertigo (1958)

#14: Vertigo (1958)

Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
#15: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

#15: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Dir: Steven Spielberg
#16: Boogie Nights (1997)

#16: Boogie Nights (1997)

Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson
#17: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

#17: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Dir: Tobe Hooper
#18: It's a Wonderful Life (1944)

#18: It's a Wonderful Life (1944)

Dir: Frank Capra
#19: Singin' in the Rain (1952)

#19: Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Dir: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
#20: Zodiac (2007)

#20: Zodiac (2007)

Dir: David Fincher