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Le Samourai

DFI Cinema

Jean-Pierre Melville / Feature Narrative / France, Italy / 1967 / 105 min / Colour / 35mm
In French / Arabic, English subtitles
Interests: Drama, Thriller, Crime, Mystery
Rated: Parental guidance is advised for viewers under the age of 13. Individuals under the age of 13 are not admitted into cinemas unless accompanied by an individual aged 18 or older.



In ‘Le Samouraï’, Jef Costello (a wonderfully expressionless Alain Delon) is a cool contract killer who gets himself into in a bind when he is caught at the scene of his latest hit. With both the police and his employer on his tail, he finds himself trapped in a web of intrigue, double-crossing and the love of two women.

Director Jean-Pierre Melville’s use of costume here is significant both in terms of the story and the film’s overall structure. From a narrative point of view, it is Jef’s outfit, far more than his face that allows witnesses to his crime to identify him as the killer – or to insist that he is certainly not the perpetrator. At the same time, Jef’s beige overcoat, perfectly angled fedora and revolver are the classic elements of hard-boiled crime drama, providing us with cues as to his character and the world he inhabits.

‘Le Samouraï’ is a fascinating construction – it is as though elements of a 1940s American crime drama have been transplanted into high-modern 1960s Paris. An exceedingly clever mélange of elements of classic film noir and hints of the French New Wave, with nods to Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Breathless’ and François Truffaut’s ‘Shoot the Piano Player’ (both 1960), the result is a quite unique film that washes over the viewer like something out of a dream.

About the Director

Jean-Pierre Melville was a fiercely independent French filmmaker, whose early works – including ‘Les Enfants terribles’ (1950) and ‘Bob le flambeur’ (1956) – inspired the directors of the French New Wave, who considered him a sort of godfather. He went on to direct several influential and highly idiosyncratic films, among them ‘Leon Morin, Priest’ (1961), ‘Second Breath’ (1966), ‘Le Samouraï’ (1967), ‘Army of Shadows’ (1969) and ‘Dirty Money’ (1972). Melville died in 1973.


Jean-Pierre Melville
Jean-Pierre Melville, Georges Pellegrin, based on the novel by Joan McLeod
Raymond Borderie, Eugène Lépicier
Henri Decaë
Sales Company
Editions René Chateau
Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, Caty Rosier, Michel Boisrond

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