Watched: January 1st 2021

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville

Starring: Alain Delon, Nathalie Delon, Cathy Rosier, François Périer

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 45min

So, happy new year, everyone. What a start. We’re not sure 2021 is going to be much better than 2020 judging by the first few weeks, but who knows? In Norway, we’ve gone right into a semi-lockdown so we’ve had our hands full dealing with the repercussions of that, while of course following the insanity that is the USA closely. However, we are the perpetual optimists and have high hopes for February! Things need to calm down at some point, right? And while we wait, why not watch some movies? Such as Jean-Pierre Melville’s amazing Le Samouraï.

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Remember when we said Tokyo Drifter was cool? Well, prepare to meet Le Samouraï! Jef Costello (Delon) is a French hitman. After being observed at a murder scene, he needs to avoid both the police and the people who hired him who now see him as a liability.

Unfortunately for a killer for hire, he is cursed with a face so ridiculously handsome that no eye witness will ever be able to forget him.

Silently and cooly, in his trenchcoat and fedora, he goes around Paris figuring out who to trust, who to love (if such a thing is possible), and how to survive.

He’s also working really hard on varying his facial expressions, but so far no dice.

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This movie is amazing. The story itself is not the most original, perhaps, but Alain Delon is fantastic as Costello. The world he inhabits is quiet, efficient, spartan and grey, but with the occasional song bird to brighten the mood. Or alert one of danger. Whatever rubs your Buddha.

Real question: how on earth did he end up owning a bird? Did he buy one? Did someone give it to him? Did it just come with the apartment? The public needs to know!

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We loved the little glimpses into the Parisian underworld, such as the mechanic Costello visits, the long, quiet scenes without dialogue, Costello’s M.O. in establishing his alibi and planning his evening of chilling and killing, the police’s strange practice of just rounding up a random 600 people to parade in front of eye witnesses in hopes of finding a match (we hope they put a bit more thought into it than it seemed..?), the two women in Costello’s life, and the quiet, suspenseful action of Le Samouraï.

“Witnesses descibed the shooter as a ridiculously handsome young man, so I got this middle aged lady in for the line-up, boss!” “Good work, officer! With work like this a promotion is just around the corner.”

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It’s stylish and suspenseful, visually a sort of mix between some of the other French films and the older American noirs, and a welcome distraction in a world gone topsy-turvy. And with that, we hope you are all safe and healthy, and we urge you to get your Samouraï on!

If hitmen in fedoras don’t get you hot, then you can at least appreciate the woman who actually manages to pull off this coat. You have our deepest admiration, Miss Rosier.

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What we learned: In Paris in 1967 there were only 100 different keys. Together, they opened every single door and started every engine. Also, everyone owned a set.

Next time: Mad Monster Party? (1967)

One thought on “#288 Le Samouraï

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