peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2024 01 04 LeCercleRouge

Le Cercle Rouge (1970)

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More Jean-Pierre Melville was inevitable after (re)watching Le Samoura├». This one is a heist flick with a side of mystery — just why do they need a sharpshooter to rob a jewellery store? — but the meat is in the engrossing portrayal of the characters of a variety of French men. Inspector Andre Bourvil has three beautiful cats for children, and while he makes an error early on there's little doubt that he will get his man. Alain Delon leads as a recently-released felon who organises the theft with crim-on-the-lam Gian Maria Volont├Ę and dipso-sniper Yves Montand. Melville takes his time to show what he wants to; for instance we learn a fair bit about fence Paul Crauchet even in the bare minute or so he has onscreen. It's long but it doesn't drag. The ending is a bit of a let down. Brad Pitt for the remake.

Vincent Canby saw a severely cut version, dubbed into English (!) in 1993. Women have no place in these men's lives, not even the cigarette girl with the roses. Its release in the USA in 2003 provoked a slew of reviews. Roger Ebert: four stars. Melville's output got strip mined by Hollywood. He points to Manohla Dargis at the L.A. Times (!) opining about the reclamation of French honour. A. O. Scott. Peter Bradshaw: five stars (!).