Master thief Corey (Alain Delon) is fresh out of prison. But instead of toeing the line of law-abiding freedom, he finds his steps leading back to the shadowy world of crime, crossing those of a notorious escapee (Gian Maria Volonté) and alcoholic ex-cop (Yves Montand). As the unlikely trio plots a heist against impossible odds, their trail is pursued by a relentless inspector (Bourvil), and fate seals their destinies. Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le cercle rouge combines honorable anti-heroes, coolly atmospheric cinematography, and breathtaking set pieces to create a masterpiece of crime cinema. —The Criterion Collection
Jean-Pierre Melville (born Jean-Pierre Grumbach) was an amateur filmmaker as a teenager who, after the start of World War II, began making his own independent short and feature films. He hit his stride in the ‘50s with his memorable adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s novel, Les Enfants Terribles, and, over the next 20 years, specialized in intelligent and exciting crime films, most notably Bob le Flambeur, Le Doulos (aka The Finger Man), Le Samouraï, Le Cercle Rouge, and Un Flic. Melville also acted in his own Deux Hommes Dans Manhattan, as well as Cocteau’s Orphee, Jean-Luc Godard’s À Bout de Souffle (aka Breathless), and Claude Chabrol’s Landru (aka Bluebeard). He died in 1973.
(From http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=2:102465 )
By the time of this, his twelfth and penultimate feature, Melville had well and truly mastered the crime genre. Specifically, this is a heist picture that stands favourable comparison with Dassin's indelible Rififi. Delon, Volontè and Montand make up a memorable trio of criminals planning and executing the robbery of a jewellery store in the Place Vendôme. Handsomely shot by Decae, this film is sparklingly executed..
Melville is so damn cool, everything here is so detailed and icily perfect. I need to see more of his films.
Yeah, but it's the only other one of his films I've seen - I absolutely adore that one. I'm thinking of watching either Army of Shadows or Dirty Money next, his color films have a sense of atmosphere that is virtually unparalleled (though I'm sure his b&w films are no different).
Cristina Álvarez López & Adrian Martin’s new video essay looks at 13 recurring elements in the work of Jean-Pierre Melville.
I wrote this in February of this year: "[That] the Criterion Collection losing the licensing for over twenty library pictures, the current editions
Le Cercle Rogue is another French policier that is a long, sometimes boring and sometimes tedious affair. It borrows heavily from The Asphalt Jungle, but is a hollow homage of that film. The standout… read review