Gangsters -- France -- Drama

Le doulos

(The finger man), (The informer), (The stoolie)


Jean-Paul Belmondo, Serge Reggiani, Jean Dessailly, Michel Piccoli,

A Melvillean roundabout of ambiguity and betrayal in the underworld: Serge Reggiani is an ex-con who suspects his friend of being a stool pigeon—un doulos or finger man in French slang—and shoots him. Enter Jean-Paul Belmondo, the finger man; or is he? As in Bob le flambeur and Le Samouraï, the gangsters display an impassive, underplayed demeanor, increasing a sense of equivocation in characters who, as Melville said, “are all double . . . all false.” But as in Army of Shadows, they are all interdependent; no lone samurai need apply, falseness counts, and everyone has a story to recount, at length. All this is played out against a stunningly photographed sub-urban setting of barren expanses, lampposts in the middle of nothingness, a gangster-squatter’s paradise or an existentialist’s dream. (Also, some obvious back projection, perhaps a loving homage to Edgar Ulmer.) Finally, since everyone wears a trench coat at all times, it rains.

Judy Bloch
  • Jean-Pierre Melville
Based On
  • the novel by Pierre Lesou

  • Nicolas Hayer
  • French
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 35mm
  • 108 mins
  • Rialto Pictures

CineFiles is an online database of BAMPFA's extensive collection of documentation covering world cinema, past and present.

View Le doulos documents  

Hat trick (review), Village Voice, J. Hoberman, 2007

Le doulos (program note), Cinematheque Ontario/a division of Toronto International Film Festival Group, 1999

Jean-Pierre Melville: the French connection (program note), Pacific Film Archive, Judy Bloch, 1996

[Le doulos] (review), Village Voice, J. Hoberman, 1988

Semi-tough (review), Boston Phoenix, Charles Taylor, 1988

[Le doulos] (review), East Bay Express, Michael Covino, 1987

Le doulos (review), Variety, Gene Moskowitz, 1963

Jean-Pierre Melville in context (program note), Chris Peachment

French cinema since 1946, volume 2 -- excerpt (book excerpt), Roy Armes

Displaying 9 of 9 publicly available documents.

View all Le doulos documentation on CineFiles.