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…
The samurai in Akira Kurosawa's films lead honorable lives, although they are essentially contract killers, like Jef Costello in Le Samourai. But a samurai lives by a code of honor, bound by his loyalty to other people. Jef Costello lives and kills by his own rules, obligated to no one but himself.
We are told nothing of Costello's past, of what compels him to live a life of such solitude and discipline, or why he works as a paid killer. His apartment betrays no clues, stark and bare as it is. He moves like a shadow. He is always well-dressed and effortlessly suave. Costello is cold and detached at all times, his calm demeanor unshaken by everything but a bullet…
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…
Many of us geeks like to play a game called “What If?” in which a hypothetical question, usually involving pop culture, is suggested and ideas thrown about. For example, what if Akira Kurosawa had been a director in the French New Wave? Thankfully, we don't have to speculate on this one, Jean-Pierre Melville gave us Le Samouraï, the story of a Parisian hitman who lives a simple life of patience and honor, which is probably as close as you could ever get to a French Kurosawa film.
Our assassin goes by the name Jef Costello, and I'm going to be honest, I'm not sure if there has ever been a cooler character in all of cinema. I don't just mean…
Delightfully stylish in every aspect, but frustratingly hollow. After enjoying Drive and Ghost Dog I expected to fall for this as well, but the style is not as overpowering as Drive and the mood is not as engagingly meditative as Ghost Dog.
From the much raved about opening shot it's an absolute delight to watch the smooth craft with the fluid camera, deliberate compositions, and jazzy soundtrack. It's all very French and very 60s, which is always a good thing. The film also puts the timeless Paris subway to good use in long suspenseless chase scenes. In spite of dragged out scenes like that, or the lineup of suspects at the police station, the pace is comfortably fast for a…
A slow-burn. Everything is traditionally slow – Characters are slow, they talk slowly, they move slowly, and also they kill slowly. Slow, but Le Samouraï is a masterpiece - great and effective. I would understand Samouraï as a masterpiece in a perfectionism manner, not a perfect one. Perhaps you would bother to get tangled in mysterious wet dream of the movie; you would witness Samouraï in wonderment.
The film follows a professional killer named Jeff Castello (played by Alain Delon). Just like the movie, Castello is a perfectionist. Before and upon murdering a person, he would set things up in a way that it is near impossible for the police force to track him down. But things went horribly wrong…
The initial tagline reflects perfectly the loneliness expressed in our inscrutable Delon's eyes
Goddamn foreign films, they seem to just ooze style without forcing the issue.
Alain Delon, cool actor, or coolest actor ever?
Jef, you are cooler than being cool-- nay, you are cooler than ice cold. Not to mention, your main broad is a total babe.
On a more serious note, Le Samourai is like the more accomplished father who cannot help but feel a tad disappointed in his son, Drive.
Two of my favorite films are Ghost Dog and Drive, and this movie's influence can definitely be felt in those two movies. All three have protagonists that we learn very little about over the course of the movie, are calm and quiet and commit crimes for money.
Another connection between Le Samourai and Ghost Dog is the appropriation of samurai culture into a contemporary urban setting. Though, for a movie that literally translates to "The Samurai" there's surprisingly little samurai culture explored in this film. I mean, he has a code of honor for sure, and there's a Bushido quote at the beginning, but besides that this film doesn't explore the samurai aspect as much as I thought it would.…
A lean micro-thriller I can only thank for providing the foundations of the smoother, more genuinely menacing, and more beautiful Drive.
- 12 Angry Men
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- 25th Hour
- 3 Women
- 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
- 12 Angry Men
most recent update - Thursday, April 10, 2014, 11:23 PM EST
The letterboxd crew has unveiled a new feature that…