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  • Le Samourai

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on November 9th, 2005

    (out of 5)


    Alain Delon is a cool-as-ice contract killer. After pulling off his latest contract, he is picked up by the police on suspicion, but is released for lack of evidence. The gangsters who hired him consider him a liability, however, and attempt to have him killed. He must now evade the police long enough to track down his killers before they get him.

    With minimal dialogue and a stripped-down, no-frills style, director Jean-Pierre Melville delivers a thriller that is a model of efficie…cy and cool. The storyline is quite consciously straight out of the noir films of the 40s, and because audiences know all the moves, Melville can sketch them in with only a few brush strokes. Influenced as it is by American crime films and Japanese samurai epics, the movie has in become a colossal influence of subsequent directors. Essential viewing.


    The mono is clean, free of hiss and distortion, and very textured and rich. There are plenty of stereo tracks out there that sound thinner and are far less satisfying. All mono should sound this good.


    As one would expect from Criterion, the print is in marvellous shape. There is perhaps one instance over very slight damage, but that’s it. The grain is minimal, and while there are some some shots that are a bit grainier than others, this is to be expected given the 1967 vintage. The colours are very nice, the flesh tones are natural, and the contrasts and blacks are strong. There is no problematic edge enhancement.

    Special Features

    No fluff here. These are features for the serious film student. There are two interviews with film scholars (Rui Nogueira and Ginette Vincendeau) about Melville’s career and the film. There are also twenty-four minutes of archival interviews with Melville, Delon and others, along with a news report about the burning of Melville’s studios. There’s the theatrical trailer, and finally there’s an excellent 29-page booklet included (which, along with an interview with Melville, has an appreciation by John Woo, and so on). The menu’s main screen is animated and scored.

    Closing Thoughts

    A classic film and a respectful treatment, as one would expect. Highly recommended.

    Special Features List

    • Interviews with Melville Scholars
    • Archival Interviews
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • 29-Page Booklet
    Posted In: 1.85:1 Widescreen, Criterion, Criterion Collection, Disc Reviews, Dolby Digital Mono (French), DVD, Suspense / Thriller

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