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Sunday, April 30

Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville

Starring Lino Ventura

(1966) En route to the border after a successful prison break, Lino Ventura (Army of Shadows) takes time for an electrifying highway robbery, but then finds, after ruthless cop Paul Meurisse has turned him into an unwitting informer, that reputation is worth more than life. 35mm print courtesy Insitut Français. Approx. 144 min.


“The height of [Melville’s] personal expression. From the abstract virtuosity of the opening jailbreak to the silent salute of the final heartbreak, Melville distills emotions to rarefied minimalist gestures and offers a stringent morality of self-discipline, both his heroes’ and his own. In an age of philosophical and aesthetic extremism, Melville captured the second wind (or the last gasp) of a dignified formality and restraint by way of a crook and a cop who coolly left their mark as auteurs of crime and punishment.”
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker 

“Takes the noir to the heights of a monumental apogee of the genre where words can only belittle the grandiosity of it all.”
– Mubi

 “Melville’s most elaborate and intricately plotted film noir, a labyrinthine exploration of loyalties and betrayals in the French underworld. The steely location photography gives the action a veneer of realism, but the film’s real energies are subterranean, and suffused with Melville’s typical poetry: the bizarre interdependence of cop and criminal here is seen with the same eyes as the passionate love/hate of the brother and sister in Les Enfants Terribles.” 
– Tony Rayns, Time Out

“Melville specialized in severely stylized versions of American gangster films, bringing out their unspoken existentialism through a camera style that sometimes evokes the minimalist purity of Bresson, sometimes the seamless studio realism of William Wyler.”
– Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

Film Forum