I wish I could live in a world free of cops and hoods, Belmondo says, and it may be the latent, vulnerable, metaphorical credo of all Melville's best. In their company, Le Doulos is one of his fastest—for a director known for drawing out the situation, this one keeps the twists coming, making you wonder who's up to what. My only hesitancy is the ending, which feels bound to genre tropes rather than transcending them.
C'est magnifique! Melville strikes again with a classic trench coat & trilby noir. Le Doulos is much more welcoming & talkative than Melville's usual style, but is no less effective. The crime caper unravels with deliberate plot holes & ambiguity that builds to a revealing finale. The ultra cool Belmondo is only matched by the tracking wizardry of the camerawork-notably the dizzying unbroken interrogation scene.
Tough but upright French men with big American cars, deceitful femme fatales and righteous murderers. This is the ultimate film noir (and alpha male fantasy), indeed so ultimate that it borders on parody. Yet it’s done with style and earnest and - most important - with a sense of tragedy that keeps it balanced.