Le Samouraï

Le Samouraï ★★★½

Part of my French Nouvelle Vague challenge.

How to execute a professional hit like a modern French samurai? First, steal a car. Then, set up an alibi with a beautiful woman and arrange to sit in on a poker game. Be sure to wear gloves. Enter a supper club called Martley's and shoot the owner in his own office. See if you can avoid being spotted by witnesses. After leaving, toss the gun in the Seine River, make sure someone sees you leaving the alibi woman's apartment, ditch the stolen car, take a cab to the card game, and don't flinch when you are arrested anyway.

Alain Delon is the hired killer, Jef Costello. The alibi woman is Jane Lagrange played by Nathalie Delon, and the investigating detective, Le Commissaire, is François Périer. There's is no way the police can put Costello at the murder scene, but there is one aspect of the crime he didn't take into his calculations -- a double-cross by the people who hired him.

Even as the police set up a net to ensnare Le Samouraï, he gets a bit of help from Martley's pianist (Cathy Rosier) in locating those who have betrayed him. There's a bit of cat and mouse as a chase ensues through the Paris Metro system. Eventually, everything is settled in what I've come to believe is the key hallmark of the French New Wave -- the shooting death of a key character. In that regard, writer-director Jean-Pierre Melville, who based this on Joan McLeod's novel "The Ronin," gets rather low marks from me for originality, but I really liked the sound and the camerawork.

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