30. “Le Samouraï”, Jean-Pierre Melville (1967)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.

Le Samourai

Le Samouraï aka The Samurai 

dir. Jean-Pierre Melville scr. Jean-Pierre Melville and Georges Pellegrin cin. Henri Decae with Alain Delon, Francois Perier, Nathalie Delon, Cathy Rosier

In 100 words: Few directors have made such a career out of making relentless nihilism look and feel so chic the way Melville has despite the stark bleakness of his films. Samourai at least provides some emotional underpinnings within its stylish suits, icy colors, and spare designs by showing our assassin bored and disillusioned with his profession. Delon embodies this lonely assassin’s life by betraying some signs of numbness despite his cool nonchalant exterior. Plus, Melville’s meticulous cutting, balletic camera work, and precise staging are stunning: clean and clear, showing the audience when, where, and how things will unfold. Influential without a doubt.

Other Movies for Context: Melville’s fame among avid movie fans have only risen and reached a zenith in the last decade, with the release of his Army of Shadows (1969), a fascinating if unromantic take on the French Resistance during World War II. The only other movie of his I’ve seen is Le Cercle Rouge (1970), which certainly has the distinct Melville cool and the stylish shooting and editing. Great movies, but not necessarily the easiest movies to watch.

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