L’ARMEE DES HOMBRES (1969)

Army of shadows is considered melville masterpiece and what a great movie it is. France, 1942, during the occupation. Philippe Gerbier, a civil engineer, is one of the French Resistance’s chiefs. Given away by a traitor, he is interned in a camp. He manages to escape, and joins his network at Marseilles, where he makes the traitor be executed… This non-spectacular movie (do not expect any Rambo or Robin Hood) shows us rigorously and austerely the everyday of the French Resistants : their solitude, their fears, their relationships, the arrests, the forwarding of orders and their carrying out… Both writer Joseph Kessel and co-writer and director Jean-Pierre Melville belonged to this “Army in the Shadows”. For the shot depicting German soldiers marching down the Champs Elysees, Jean-Pierre Melville thought that it would be impossible to get regular Frenchmen to provide the proper marching movements. He ended up casting dancers to correctly provide the march steps he wanted from the soldiers. This shot was originally the last in the film and prints were sent to theaters with it in that place. After the first showings, Melville decided the scene was better placed at the start of the film and it was physically spliced into the new position. This apparently resulted in several missing frames in the negative. These frames were restored from another source when the 2005 digital restoratioCinematographer Pierre Lhomme claimed that the last surviving, watchable print of the movie had turned completely pink with age. He later supervised the 2k resolution, digital restoration of the film at the Eclair Laboratories in Paris. n was accomplished.

LE JARDINIER D’AGENTEUIL (1966)

Jean Gabin plays a retired race track gambler (Tulipe) who spends his time in his hobby garden. When he is approached by some relatives to “lauder” counterfeit Francs, he reluctantly develops a grandiose scheme to exchange the “blossoms” into real cash at the tracks. A film without violence for the whole family.

LES GRANDES FAMILLES (1958)

Jean Gabin (Noël Schoudler) is like a family-president in this movie by Denys de La Patellière based on a novel by Maurice Druon. His son François (Jean Desailly) is not competent to direct the family-business (a sugar factory), the banks, the press-company, or is he? At his opposite Simon, his future son-in-law (Bernard Blier) is the right hand of Schoudler and acts as Schoudler supposes an intelligent man does. At the end of the movie Lucien Maublanc, the nephew of Schoudler and driven by 20-years hate of him (Lucien is played by a magnificent Pierre Brasseur) shouts at his brokers in the Stock Exchange: “C’est bien la famille!”. Schoudler will make a mistake of judgment about his son with fatal consequences… This family-tragedy is told with the skill of a director who knows how to bring a novel into a movie.

LES GRANDES GUEULES (1966)

Hector Valentin (Bourvil) returns to France from Canada when he inherits a small sawmill. He has difficulties restarting the run-down operation which has inefficient workers and is hampered by the dirty tactics of its bigger, wealthier neighbor. Laurent (Lino Ventura) is an ex-con who is seeking revenge on the man who ratted him out, and is himself finishing got out of prison. He talks Hector into participating in a work program for paroled felons, and arranges for his target to be in the group of convicts sent to work at the sawmill. He hopes that the facility’s isolation will provide him with an opportunity for murder. However the man’s parole is delayed and he doesn’t show up with the rest of the workers. Will Laurent’s target be coming? You have just to watch the movie. Lino Ventura, as usual, a very forceful personality, and Bourvil, for once, is not in a comic capacity, two people from worlds apart and yet they come to form this unexpected and unlikely friendship because ultimately, they are the Good Guys in a world full with “model citizens” performing dirty tricks. The film is dynamic, it leaves you breathless. The sawmill seen on the screen was rebuilt on the site of Cellet after its owner – just like Bourvil in the story – set fire to it, then burnt down again for the final scenes.

UN FLIC (1972)

Parisian police commissioner Coleman (Alain Delon) is not a happy man, but he does what he can to get through each day. He has recently started having an affair with Cathy (Catherine Deneuve), and that helps a little. Cathy is also Simon’s girlfriend and Simon (Richard Crenna) is Coleman’s friend. Unfortunately, Simon is also the head of a gang of criminals. When Coleman’s investigation of a drug-smuggling ring closes in, their rivalry comes to a head. This was Jean-Pierre Melville last film. While Alain Delon’s character, Commissaire Coleman, examines a crime scene, we see a brief shot of a wall on which are inscribed several names including the one of his character in one of his previous collaborations with Jean-Pierre Melville: Jef Costello, the “hero” of the Le Samouraï. The opening shot closely resembles Hokusai’s famous woodcut “The Wave”. By the way Richard Crenna is in the film.

MAIGRET ET L’AFFAIRE SAINT-FIACRE (1959)

Inspector Maigret is traveling to the French countryside to visit his friend, the duchess of Saint-Fiacre. She has received a letter recently stating that she will die soon. A few days later she does so by an heart attack, but Maigret does not believe in this. The climax of the movie is the final diner. Of course Inspector Maigret is played by Jean Gabin. movie made from the Novel by Georges Simenon.

A BOUT DE SOUFFLE (1960)

There was before Breathless, and there was after Breathless. Jean-Luc Godard burst onto the film scene in 1960 with this jazzy, free-form, and sexy homage to the American film genres that inspired him as a writer for Cahiers du cinéma. With its lack of polish, surplus of attitude, anything-goes crime narrative, and effervescent young stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, Breathless helped launch the French New Wave and ensured cinema would never be the same. Michel Poiccard, an irresponsible sociopath and small-time thief, steals a car and impulsively murders the motorcycle policeman who pursues him. Now wanted by the authorities, he renews his relationship with Patricia Franchini, a hip American girl studying journalism at the Sorbonne, whom he had met in Nice a few weeks earlier. Before leaving Paris, he plans to collect a debt from an underworld acquaintance and expects her to accompany him on his planned getaway to Italy. Even with his face in the local papers and media, Poiccard seems oblivious to the dragnet that is slowly closing around him as he recklessly pursues his love of American movies and libidinous interest in the beautiful American. Despite reports to the contrary, Jean-Luc Godard did not shoot the film without a script; however, he did not have a finished script at the beginning, instead writing scenes in the morning and filming them that day. See also Pierrot le Fou. To give a more detached, spontaneous quality, Jean-Luc Godard fed the actors their lines as scenes were being filmed. Director Jean-Luc Godard couldn’t afford a dolly, so he pushed the cinematographer around in a wheelchair through many scenes of the film. He got the idea from Jean-Pierre Melville, who had used the same low-budget technique in Bob le Flambeur and Le silence de la mer. According to Jean-Pierre Melville, Godard asked him for consultation during the post-production stage because the first edit was too long for distribution. Melville suggested Godard remove all scenes that slowed down the action (his own turn as novelist Parvulesco included). But instead of excluding entire scenes, Godard cut little bits from here and there. This led to the “jump cut” technique this movie introduced. Melville declared the result to be excellent. The character of Michel Poiccard uses the name Laszlo Kovacs as an alias. It is often wrongly assumed this was an homage to the cinematographer of the same name: the film was made long before Kovacs established himself in the movie industry. It was actually a reference to the character played by Jean-Paul Belmondo in Claude Chabrol’s Leda, earlier the same year. Jean-Paul Belmondo was very surprised by the warm reception the film received. Immediately after production he was convinced it was so bad that he thought the film would never be released.