Le Samourai

Made in 1967, Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samourai was not released in this country until 1972, when it was shown in a version called The Godson. One of the few who noticed it then was Penelope Gilliatt, who wrote in The New Yorker: “Jean-Pierre Melville, elder statesman of the New Wave, born in Paris in 1917 (Melville died in 1973), is the poet of the implacable. In France he is thought of as the most American of the directors, the man who has taken the B picture and the policier to new heights.... The Godson is a sort of meditation on solitude, embodied in a lonely, rigorous mercenary who assassinates to order.... a fascinating and important picture. It is a study of someone who listens all the time and seems to be responding to harmonics beyond most people's range. Odd that it should be possible to give a killer so many of the attributes of the sanctified.... Like Melville, Alain Delon was never as good as this before. The Godson is cold, masterly, without pathos, and not even particularly sympathetic: it has the noble structure of accuracy.”

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