Le Samouraï (1967)

Genres - Crime, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Post-Noir (Modern Noir), Gangster Film  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - France, Italy  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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The epitome of screen cool, policier specialist Jean-Pierre Melville masterfully dissects the life of a loner hitman after he leaves behind a beautiful witness to a nightclub assassination. Opening with a fake nugget of samurai wisdom, Melville emphasizes the self-imposed isolation of Alain Delon's impassive Jeff Costello, as he lies alone in his monochrome apartment before his next job. Amid ultra-mod 1960s nightclub interiors and Henri Dacaë's icily stylish cinematography, Melville meticulously details Jeff's well-honed methods for stealing cars, shooting victims, and covering his tracks. A line-up identification and a celebrated police pursuit through Paris's Metro enhance the suspense about whether this consummate professional can be caught, as an inkling of human connection threatens Jeff's carefully controlled existence. Originally released in the U.S. in an edited, dubbed version meant to capitalize on the popularity of The Godfather (1972), Le samouraï was restored to its original form in the 1990s, although its visual flourishes, procedural flair, and Delon's existential sangfroid had long since infiltrated the international neo-noir lexicon. It directly inspired John Woo's The Killer (1989) and Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (2000), among others.