Le Doulos

Le Doulos

Synopsis

Le Doulos, based on Pierre Lesou's novel from the famous Serie Noire crime series, introduces the great run of gangster films that were to make Jean-Pierre Melville the greatest master of the genre outside the USA. Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo as Silien, underworld criminal and police informer and Serge Reggiani as the dogged villain Faugel, Melville creates a twilit world of ambiguity and betrayal, in which "all characters are two-faced, all characters are false." This was the film he called "my first real policier", and already the characteristic elements of the French film noir are in place; the bleak, downbeat atmosphere, the gangsters in their trench-coats and felt hats, American-style smoky jazz clubs and big-finned cars, themes of male friendship, loyalty and betrayal and always a sense of impending doom.

Le Doulos takes place in the edgy, alienated world of urban noir. It pays tribute to the American gangster films of the 1940s whilst retaining a uniquely French perspective. Where the Hollywood noir strives for clarity and simplification, Melville's films and Le Doulos in particular, retain their ambiguity throughout, leading to a dramatic final showdown. Le Doulos was Meville's seventh feature, and by this stage his technique had become confident and assured. Women, as is usual in Melville's crime films, figure little and mostly in a negative light, but from his male actors he draws subtle performances, making effective use of Belmondo's shifty charm and Reggiani's frail tenacity. The film also features photography by Nicolas Hayer and a jazz score by Paul Misraki.

Technical Specs

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Year: 1963
Country: France | Italy
Language: French
Duration: 106 min
Colour: B/W
Certificate: 12