1960 was a breakthrough year for Belmondo as he appeared in Breathless for Godard and had a terrific role in this gem: a superb crime movie where his charisma is much in evidence. He gives able support to the always reliable Ventura who plays the lead role of an exiled criminal looking for help from his old gangster buddies. Utterly absorbing; would make a great double bill alongside Melville’s Le Deuxième Souffle..
This is basically a character study which is a specialty of Sautet. The more I see of his work, the more I think he was a master, especially in his direction of actors. I'll bet Lino Ventura has never come through so dimensionally as he does here. Sautet also has a gracefully low-key style that is very realistic and fresh. Renoir's influence (along with the Italian neo-realists) is clearly present.