The backstabbing criminals in the shadowy underworld of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le doulos have only one guiding principle: “Lie or die.” A stone-faced Jean-Paul Belmondo stars as enigmatic gangster Silien, who may or may not be responsible for squealing on Faugel (Serge Reggiani), just released from the slammer and already involved in what should have been a simple heist. By the end of this brutal, twisting, and multilayered policier, who will be left to trust? Shot and edited with Melville’s trademark cool and featuring masterfully stylized dialogue and performances, Le doulos (slang for “informant”) is one of the filmmaker’s most gripping crime dramas. —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 )
With the exception of the exceptional Army Of Shadows, Melville ended his brilliant career from 1962 onwards with a series of exemplary crime films of which this was the first. Serge Reggiani, a Franco-Italian Dana Andrews, was wonderful in Becker's Casque d'Or and he delivers the goods again alongside the laconic Gallic charm of Belmondo in a complex tale of deceit and that fine line between loyalty and treachery...
After knowing director Jean-Pierre Melville’s reputation as a master of crime films, I’ve been mostly disappointed upon actually seeing them. This one is no different – as cool and stylish as it is… read review