Le Samouraï (1967) [The Criterion Collection #306] [ReUp]

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Le Samouraï (1967) [The Criterion Collection #306] [ReUp]

Le Samouraï (1967)
DVD9 | ISO+MDS | NTSC 16:9 | Cover+Booklet | 01:45:13 | 8,04 Gb
Audio: French AC3 1.0 @ 192 Kbps | Subtitles: English
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery | The Criterion Collection #306

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Stars: Alain Delon, Nathalie Delon, François Périer

In a career-defining performance, Alain Delon plays a contract killer with samurai instincts. A razor-sharp cocktail of 1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culture - with a liberal dose of Japanese lone-warrior mythology—maverick director Jean-Pierre Melville’s masterpiece Le Samouraï defines cool.


Originally released in this country as THE GODSON in a much-maligned, dubbed, and reedited version, Jean-Pierre Melville's film noir masterpiece is finally making its U.S. theatrical debut in its original form. Professional hit man Costello (Alain Delon) lives a life of precision and timing that cannot include normal social interactions – a pet bird is his only companion. He undertakes the job of killing a nightclub owner, but discovers that he has left a witness behind: the pianist, Valerie (Cathy Rosier). With the Paris police hot on his trail after the nightclub hit, Costello learns that the man he is working for has put out a hit on him. Melville coolly mixes the conventions of American crime films from the '40s and '50s ( THIS GUN FOR HIRE is one key reference point) with a distinctly European austerity, yet the film still manages to pack quite an emotional punch. LE SAMOURAI is a major work from a highly influential director – Walter Hill and John Woo have both taken a lesson or two – yet one whose films have been, until now, inexplicably neglected in the U.S.
Le Samouraï (1967) [The Criterion Collection #306] [ReUp]

Jean-Pierre Melville (1917-1973) was born Grumbach but renamed himself after the American novelist. He was a hero of the French resistance. After the war, by starting his own studio and making independent films on small budgets, he essentially pointed the way for the French New Wave. "I'm incapable of doing anything but rough drafts", he once said, but in fact "Le Samourai" is as finished and polished as a film can be.

Le Samouraï (1967) [The Criterion Collection #306] [ReUp]

The elements of the film–the killer, the cops, the underworld, the women, the code - are as familiar as the movies themselves. Melville loved 1930s Hollywood crime movies and in his own work helped develop modern film noir. There is nothing absolutely original in "Le Samourai" except for the handling of the material. Melville pares down and leaves out. He disdains artificial action sequences and manufactured payoffs. He drains the color from his screen and the dialogue from his characters. At the end, there is a scene that cries out (in Hollywood terms, anyway) for a last dramatic enigmatic statement, but Melville gives us banalities and then silence. He has been able to keep constantly in mind his hero's chief business.
Excerpt from Rober Ebert's Review
Le Samouraï (1967) [The Criterion Collection #306] [ReUp]

Jean-Pierre Melville' much abused and over edited near masterpiece of a super cool hit man, returns to the screen in the director's 1990s uncut version after being initially released in America in the dubbed and butchered version under the title The Godson. Le Samourai is based on the novel "The Ronin" by Joan McLeod. It is shot in beautifully plain color by cinematographer Henri Decae. Melville has had a long love affair with American cinema, and by imitating Hollywood gangster cool he has managed to find a way to make a personal film–which seems like an unlikely occurence, nevertheless it's the way Melville operates. Le Samourai is a sparkling fantasy film about make believe solitude and unfolds like a mystic's poem about a world he only knows through his vivid imagination, one that weaves its way with not much gab through a shadowy world of sinister characters garbed in trenchcoats and their eyes hidden by fedoras with their brim pulled down. It bristles with intelligence, style, and personality, and sets a dark mood that captures the underworld city streets as vouched for in the movies.

Le Samouraï (1967) [The Criterion Collection #306] [ReUp]

Jeff Costello (Alain Delon) is a professional Parisian hit man, who is a loner living only for his work and residing in a drab one-room pad with a caged bird. He lives by a personal code of bushido, a fictional book created by Melville. The film opens with a quote from that bogus book, The Book of Bushido: "There is no greater solitude than that of samurai, unless perhaps it be that of the tiger in the jungle." There's also a girl involved whom he arranges an alibi with, Jane Lagrange (Natalie Delon, Alain's real-life wife), who Costello knows is seeing an older respectable man (Boisrond) behind his back. The hit man also arranges an alibi with his regular poker players. After he successfully completes his assignment of taking out a nightclub owner and is set with an airtight alibi, Costello discovers that he was seen by the club's enigmatic black jazz pianist, Valerie (Cathy Rosier).

Le Samouraï (1967) [The Criterion Collection #306] [ReUp]

He only gets through a police lineup thanks to Valerie mysteriously not turning him in. Soon Costello's alibi begins to rapidly come apart and his mobster employer takes out a contract on him. The film then turns away from its original alibi theme and moves into a classical revenge tale as the hit man goes after his betrayer. Costello's fate is also tied to staying away from the wily and persistent superintendent (Francois Perier), who is closing in on him by setting traps and repeatedly questioning him to punch holes in his alibi. Costello is pursued through the Paris Metro by an assortment of plainclothes detectives whom the superintendent controls from his office, with a giant map at his side. The effect is to show that the Delon character is trapped in his own emptiness and fantasies, where his destiny has the face of death written all over it.

Le Samouraï (1967) [The Criterion Collection #306] [ReUp]

The film has been a tremendous influence to the crime drama genre, as the haunting portrayal of the hit man becoming unglued leaves a lot unsaid and the viewer is encouraged to fill in the blanks. It inspired such works as John Woo's The Killer (1989) and Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (2000), and many others.
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
Le Samouraï (1967) [The Criterion Collection #306] [ReUp]
Le Samouraï (1967) [The Criterion Collection #306] [ReUp]

Special Features:
- New, restored high-definition digital transfer
- New video interviews with Rui Nogueira, author of Melville on Melville, and Ginette Vincendeau, author of Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris
- Archival interviews with Melville and actors Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, and Cathy Rosier
- Theatrical trailer
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- PLUS: a booklet featuring film scholar David Thomson, filmmaker John Woo, and selections from Melville on Melville

All Credits goes to Original uploader.

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