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The first in Jean-Pierre Melville’s great series of thrillers is a dazzlingly intricate tale of deadly suspicion and betrayal.
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Though Silien (Belmondo) is believed by some in the Parisian crime community to be a police informer, Maurice (Reggiani), a burglar just out of prison, trusts his friend enough to have let on about a job he’s lined up. But when a cop turns up mid-robbery, Maurice, wounded in his escape, has second thoughts and swears revenge... Establishing an atmosphere of unease, distrust and deception with a beautifully staged opening scene, Melville combines ingenious plot twists with a near-mythic evocation of underworld customs and fashions.
Belmondo’s youthful charm and Reggiani’s hangdog decency both prove enormously effective, while Nicolas Hayer’s camerawork is simply terrific. Finally, however, it’s the shadowy tangle of ambiguities, enigmas and cruel ironies that make this film so special.