Jean-Pierre Melville. JPM. A master of French cinema. A hero of mine for sure. He is given a modicum of respect and a lot of hot air in the world of pretence and cinema. Often via people who are servicing a desire to write on or be important in, film circles. LE SAMOURAI deserves more than this. It is Melville masterpiece and one that reveals his love, like probably your love, of film. It infuses the cinema of Japan and its culture of warrior honour based system. Phases like ice-cold thriller and cold as steel revenge film add little to what is really on offer here. Criterion collection is built for film fans or cinephiles and people who are more than this. Dreaming of making films. Understanding how great films work both in front of and behind the scenes.

The beauty of Alain Delon, his face so angelic and so sensitive, cant hide his menace as the stealth like assassin Jef Costello. He is a contract killer for the mob that employs  samurai ethics into his skill set. After carrying out a flawlessly planned hit, Jef meets pianist Valérie (Cathy Rosier) in the corridor as he flees. She saw his face but will not name him when asked to do so by the police. The problem is that others are more forth coming and now Jef finds that the police think he is their number one man. They might have a persistent police investigator on his tail but he has no fear. All until he has a fearful employer, who will ruthlessly silence any stray words.

LE SAMURAI is a mix of 1940s American gangster cinema and 1960s French pop culture. He also sprinkles with a liberal dose of Japanese lone-warrior mythology.  That is what the notes say. Having said this— missed is what is discussed in the extras (that are directly lifted from all of those DVD extras me, you and many purchased from the US). Melville was one of the great navigators of masculinity. Men as a creature constructed in the realm of society. Honour systems play a lot in his films. Criminal enterprises also. The male inside them. However the film is made less because of the lack of heavy extras that could explore this. No commentary. No fresh investigation into his powerful cinema of framing and masculine. Thomson starts it in his essay but fails to really grapple it. Buy the Blu Ray because like me, you want this film but want more…

  •  New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
    • Interviews with Rui Nogueira, editor 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
    • Melville-Delon: D’Honneur et de nuit (2011), a short documentary exploring the friendship between the director and the actor and their iconic collaboration on this film

    • PLUS: An essay by film scholar David Thomson. The Blu-ray also features an appreciation by filmmaker John Woo and excerpts from Melville on Melville

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