Feels like a weird, flaccid gangster film for the first 45 minutes but then erupts into a nerve wracking ripper once it rounds the corner. The set pieces built around the various obstacles are all brutal but the real strawberry is the way Clouzot handles the first truck's explosion in a quick 3 shot series that left me slack-jawed. Très cool.
I assigned this to students along with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. A rare instance in which the film is a much richer text. For Dick, the moral ambiguity was externalized, easily seen and easily solved. But in the film that ambiguity is subsumed by the action while simultaneously being drawn out through the entire film. Its questions are less easily articulated and less easily answered. Plus there's no Vangelis soundtrack in the book.
How do I love thee, Paisan? Let me count the ways:
1. You share my vision of a incoherent world seemingly designed only to crush what fleeting joy humans can find.
2. I don't entirely understand the bit with the priests, but your mystery only endears me more.
3. You even make soldiers scrambling up rocky Sicilian coasts seem like a beautiful eternity.
4. We laugh at the same morbid absurdities while my wife rolls her eyes.
"I know things are getting tough when you can't get the top off the bottom of the barrel." - Roberto Rosselini.