films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


The Godson

Le Samouraï
1967 / 101m - France
Crime, Thriller
The Godson poster

Army of Shadows

L'Armée des Ombres
1969 / 145m - France
Drama, War
Army of Shadows poster

Melville's famed war drama. Though I've never actively liked one of Melville's films, I do respect his take on cinema. He clearly cares for atmosphere and even though the narrative always has a clear place in his films, it's never just about telling a story. I just wish I could appreciate his stylistic choices more.

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Army of Shadows is a film about the French resistance during WWII. Not a simple good guy vs bad guy adventure-type story, but a rather sullen take that documents the internal distrust and harsh realities of keeping the organization out of sight. Don't expect it to be very action-packed either, Melville keeps things subtle and small.

The nicest scenes are when Melville takes a little break from the plot. Sights of a city, set to moody music, characters staring. It's not unlike some of my favorite Oshii moments. Didn't care much for the cinematography though, the soundtrack was a bit too classic the performances weren't great either and the runtime is problematic. Not a great film, but Melville does show moments of greatness.

Second Wind

Le Deuxième Souffle
1966 / 150m - France
Crime, Thriller
Second Wind poster

A pretty typical Melville. His films are quite dry and stoic, though never as forced or barren as Bresson's work. It's a shame the runtime is often a little too excessive because other than that, they're entertaining, rather stylish crime classics. Second Wind is a perfect example, and in that sense a pretty decent entry film into Melville's oeuvre.

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After escaping from prison, a notorious gangster plans to escape to Italy. He needs money and plans one more heist, but a detective gets to him and traps him into disclosing the name of his partner in crime. The gangster loses his credibility, and he's not just running from the law anymore.

The performances are decent, the pacing is solid and the lack of a soundtrack actually plays in the film's favor. The crime elements feel quite realistic but are still stylized enough, it's just that the 150-minute runtime was a bit too much. A more compact film would've been better, but I've seen way worse noirs.

Le Doulos

1962 / 108m - France
Crime, Thriller
Le Doulos poster

A somewhat decent Melville noir, if only people hadn't talked so much. The film is at its best when the characters are keeping silent, that's when the atmosphere takes over and Melville's moody black and white cinematography is allowed to shine. That's only a relatively small part of the film though.

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Faugel is just out of prison when she's already scheming a new heist. He asks his friend Silien for help, well aware that Silien has a reputation for ratting on his accomplices. Faugel's heist goes awry, and his girlfriend is found dead in a ditch. Faugel suspect Silien is behind all this.

The story isn't all that interesting, neither is the dialogue between the characters. It's a common problem with noirs, certainly the longer ones. The cinematography is nice though and the score, while not exceptional, does its part. The potential is clear, the overall execution flawed.

Le Cercle Rouge

1970 / 140m - France
Le Cercle Rouge poster

Bob le Flambeur

1956 / 98m - France
Crime, Thriller
Bob le Flambeur poster

Early heist film from Melville. No doubt an inspiration for many that followed in its wake, it's also nice to see Melville make a shorter, more compact film, but the monotonous performances and the ill-fitting score turn this film into a chore rather than a riveting heist. Not his best work in other words.

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Bob, a former criminal, switched careers and makes money gambling. When he falls in love with a younger girl and loses big during one of his games, he plans to rob a casino. He assembles a crew and comes up with an airtight plan, but casting himself as a casino gambler puts the entire operation in jeopardy.

Melville builds up the robbery quite meticulously, but because the characters are rather boring the film becomes terribly sluggish. The jazzy soundtrack is overly cheesy, even somewhat childish, and the heist itself isn't as tense as it should've been. At least the cinematography was slightly above par, but not enough to save this film. One of Melville's weakest films I've seen.