Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
Hitman Jef Costello is a perfectionist who always carefully plans his murders and who never gets caught...
By choosing Alain Delon for the role of Jef Costello - the brooding, silent assassin who slinks through the murky shadows of the Parisian night - Jean-Pierre Melville highlights the importance of casting. Getting the right person onboard who can disappear into their character and embody their spirit. When a director can focus their lens onto a face that tells a story of its own, the hardest part of capturing the attention of the audience is done.
Very quickly after meeting the assassin, questions about Costello quickly rack up. Where has he come from to arrive at this point in his life as a consummate professional killer for hire? How long has he been living in solitude tending to his…
There is no solitude greater than that of the samurai unless it be that of a tiger in the jungle... perhaps...
There's a reason the word suave originates from the French language. This fantastic film noir, from its opening shot, swept me along accompanied by smooth jazzy music and told me the story of an incredibly intriguing protagonist.
Alain Delon is captivating. I watched him in a daze as he portrayed the steely eyed, methodical and outwardly emotionless killer. His look in this film has an iconic feel to it and, apart from being an important element in the first half of the film, really strengthens this film's fantastic style.
Melville is almost as methodical as his hero. He structures…
That was almost a lethal dose of cool. The raincoat and hat clad hitman at the center of Le Samourai is a smooth talking, deliberately paced isolationist with a stone face and piercing eyes that are always looking towards his next contract hit. The hitman, Jef Costello, has all the qualities of a noir protagonist; quiet, brooding, smoking a cigarette, walking in the rain and living in the shadows. But this noir protagonist walks straight out of the 40's and into the 60's French New Wave film movement.
Jef is a man of straight edges. His sharp downturned eyebrows, the lines on his coat and the perpetually…
"That's how you became unemployed."
#90 on Berken's Favorite Movies Of All Time
There's fewer greater feelings in the life of a cinephile than starting a new movie by a new director and immediately becoming aware that you are in the hands of a master.
Le Samourai opens to a quote that introduces our protagonist as the solitary king of his own jungle and a mise en scène that does the same twice over. In the startlingly accomplished first shot our protagonist occupies a tiny portion of the screen yet nevertheless dominates it, both with his gaze and the casual puffs of smoke that he releases into the air, as if it too were his own. The dank and lonely…
I finally watched Lord Cookie's avatar!
It seems like the dangerously overused word to describe Le Samourai is "cool." but… that's what this is. The epitome of cool, Jef Costello is a hitman who slips up big time during a job and is forced to pay the consequences. It's a perfectly paced thriller, letting the tension build slowly and deliberately. The ending is completely warranted and unfolds so as to let the implications of what' s happening really sink in. What I enjoyed most was recognizing a fellow introvert on screen. He's quiet, observant, meticulous, prefers to stay in the background, is slave to a routine, and only enjoys connecting to people on a…
Film 45 of The December Project
Great ways to be very self-conscious without even leaving the house, #121: review this film on this site.
Le Samourai doesn't look so much like cool as a stealthy deconstruction of cool.
Jeff Costello walks not with the relaxed confidence of someone secure in his own power, but with nerviness – a controlled, athletic nerviness - a man who doesn't really want to be where he is, doesn't want to be seen (and not just by the witnesses to his hits).
The guy who hired him says he's a really good hitman; presumably he has been until recently, but we don't see it. His efficiency is crumbling as his subconscious rebels against his detached…
This lean and subdued French crime drama about a solitary and meticulous hired assassin had me hooked from the very first scenes, just as it did when I first saw it in the early 1970's. Stylish and understated, the story proceeds with long periods devoid of dialog, reminding me a bit of the opening half of Gambit, where Michael Caine is laying out the bare bones of the scam and everyone acts out his moves simply and without emotion. It is a beautiful melange of late '60's realism and '40's Film Noir, with a protagonist so cool he makes James Bond look like Jerry Lewis. While it certainly works to great effect, there are times one has to wonder whether…
Captivating story keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. But honestly, you won't be able to focus on the story - the protagonist's performance is just so amazing you won't be able to take your eyes of him! Cool, smooth, every moment, every action is honed to perfection.
Most films with protagonists this purposefully opaque have a narrow point of view, so the most interesting aspect of this film to me--besides the classicism, location shooting, and minimal dialogue--is the shifting perspective. We get just as much insight into the (pretty stupid) law enforcement figures as we get into Costello. That can be frustrating, and it forced me to read into Delon's performance in unexpected ways. (He has a pet bird...hmm...all people with pet birds are weirdos...) But it does make the Metro sequence more hopeless and suspenseful.
That being said, I think people project a lot onto this film that is not actually in the text. It smacks of being more important or influential than it is good. Also, does Grand Theft Auto owe Melville money for inventing the Pay 'n Spray?
A stylish and engaging slow paced thriller about a meticulous and emotionless hitman who ends up being pursued by his employers and the police following a contract gone wrong.
Denon is excellent as the titular character, somehow managing to convey emotion while barely speaking a word and remaining stoically stone faced and dead eyed.
A must see for noir.
"I never lose… not really."
There is no greater solitude than that of the samurai. Alain Delon lies alone on his bed, smoke gently rising to the slow, jazzy music. His room is a dingy blackish green.
The first few minutes to the film play out like this: Delon is impossibly cool, improbably beautiful, and we feel confident that he can get away with anything. He too has confidence in his abilities.
But it soon becomes clear that, cool as he is, being a "samurai" is not what it appears to be. Apparently, his job involves a lot of nonchalantly trying different keys in the ignitions of stolen cars, nonchalantly transferring from subway to subway to subway, nonchalantly participating in police lineups, and nonchalantly staring…
Cool, sharp and not a shot wasted.
Conjures up a terrific atmosphere but it did little else for me. A shame as I've been looking forward to this one for some time.
Jef Costello is probably the coolest anti hero ever.
Now excuse me while I go out and buy myself a hat and a coat.
- 12 Angry Men
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- 25th Hour
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- A Trip to the Moon
- The Great Train Robbery
- The Birth of a Nation
- Les Vampires
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1154. An easy way of seeing how…
- The Godfather
- Seven Samurai
- The Godfather: Part II
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