It is time to draw the curtains on Mondo Movies following the death of my beloved Bruce, hiding forever. À bientôt.
It is time to draw the curtains on Mondo Movies following the death of my beloved Bruce, hiding forever. À bientôt.
The world’s most charming and cine-literate cat died in my arms at 1120 today following a very short illness. Gilbert was the light of my life and accompanied me everywhere, including my travels on the internet to which he was a keen contributor and editor via this diary. I thought of a lot of things but not this. Now he is on the wild road with his brothers and sister. Vaya con Dios, amigo. You are the best of everything and Mondo Movies and I will not be right without you.
Simply monumental music. Released 45 years ago.
Are you always here? London, the present day. Part-time divorced receptionist Fern (Alison Steadman) meets retired mental health nurse Dave (Dave Johns) while she walks her little Yorkshire terrier Henry in the park when his German Shepherd Tilly is off her lead. She’s terrified of big dogs but gradually comes to realise in their regular meetings that Tilly is gentle and Henry loves her. She grudgingly agrees to meet widower Dave daily after a few bruising conversations and his openness counters her prickly character while their dogs are fast friends and he knows more about the park and the beautiful fields. She wants to learn a few words of Spanish to attend her daughter’s forthcoming wedding in the Canaries and he speaks fluently so helps her. When things start becoming more obviously romantic she backs off. Then he introduces her to his grandchildren whom he cares for occasionally when his daughter Donna (Natalie Simpson) is busy. Finally Dave must introduce her to someone important who he let Fern believe was dead – his wife Marcy (Marsha Millar) who is in a care home, completely incommunicado and mentally incapacitated. Fern takes fright and literally runs away. When Dave can persuade her to talk to him again he tells Fern that Marcy found God years ago and hadn’t communicated with him anyhow for several years before she lost her mind as well as cutting their gay son out of her life so their marriage has long ended. The costs of maintaining Marcy in a care home are threatening to put him out of his house because he can’t make the rent. On their 19th walk Fern sings for the first time in years – Besame Mucho. They get closer again but once again Fern takes fright. Dave has to move and Tilly the dog can’t cope with life in a high-rise council flat and finally after months of ignoring his pleas Fern answers his phonecall … A man who can change the sheets – every woman’s dream. This unexpectedly moving romcom features late-lifers who have had multiple disappointments including in their marriages and each time they seem to be getting closer to each other one or other of them says the wrong thing and everything good threatens to vanish from this potentially life-changing encounter. It’s the misunderstandings, quotidian issues and the detritus of family complications that do for everyone in this story told over the course of one year, season on season. She doesn’t think she deserves happiness, he’s an expert at endurance, meaning neither has the ability to move forward alone. Their encumbrances – her ex putting her out of their former home; his wife who hasn’t communicated in years and now rallies from life-threatening illness – leading to Johns asking God why in a wonderfully ironic moment considering it was Marcy’s fanatical evangelism that ended their relationship – yet his beloved dog companion is the one who suffers. Each of them is hiding something from the other, like everyone who’s led a life and doesn’t want everything out there. Steadman can put anything across and Johns is immensely sympathetic. You really feel for these pension-age characters who have mountains to move to be together. Written and directed by Paul Morrison. Can’ t you get it through your head you’re not second best?
Don’t let the past control you. After being released from an Alabama prison for auto theft Sean Fogle (Logan Lerman) reluctantly agrees to travel to Ireland with his estranged father Frank (John Hawkes) to spread his mother Anna’s (Andrea Irvine) ashes in the land of her birth. Sean has a job in Oakland and has to be in California in five days. At the funeral Frank learns his wife had been close to another man before she went to Detroit and met him and wants to track him down after hearing about their motorcycle trip to Donegal. He reckons without Sean having a one-night stand with drifter Jewel (Sarah Bolger) who needs a lift and then rips them off leading them to try and find those ashes in a chop shop in Belfast … If we do this you’ll never have to see me again. This road movie is yet another emotional journey and in another nod to some kind of agreed-upon trope is punctuated at a vital part of the healing experience by a near-miss with a deer. How many contemporary films is that now, and how many set in Ireland?! This international co-production has at least the good taste to cast Hawkes whose visage invites sympathy and when we see his back scarred from cigarette ends we learn that paternal failings stretch over generations – his father did it to him and to his grandson Sean when they were separated and these shared miseries are not the stuff of bonding. Frank is a victim of bullying and Sean pours it on too, exaggerating his weakness, exhibiting their different responses to cruelty. Bolger is the manic-less pixie dream girl, perhaps a counter to the OTT Oirishness of the sympathisers at the pub who provide the information that makes the trip more complex and yet more rewarding. You make a girl feel dignified, Jewel coos at Hawkes, aware of having to seduce the father as well as the son before she takes advantage of both of them. Hawkes has to hold the conflict together while unravelling the threads of his late wife’s former life, dealing with grief, disappointment and failure. It’s nice to see the father and son finally meet on the same page when retrieving Anna’s ashes from the Larne ferry. We might tut-tut at the geography (and the car driving the wrong way along the coast) but the race against time structure lends tension and pace and it’s a nice showcase for different performing styles. A modest but pleasant drama. Written by Michael Armbruster and directed by Elfar Adalsteins. Sometimes you’re the pigeon and sometimes you’re the tree. That’s life
Jesus, man, the wombats are out tonight. I mean whores, faggots, pimps. And hustlers, junkies, drag queens and freaks, man! This city sucks! Hollywood hooker and single mother Princess (Season Hubley) gets a call from her friend Ginger (Nina Blackwood) who’s holed up in a motel on Sunset and makes the mistake of opening the door to her pimp Ramrod (Wings Hauser) who mutilates her using a twisted coat hanger. On her death bed at the hospital she stops short of naming Ramrod to detective Tom Walsh (Gary Swanson) who nonetheless makes it his business to get the mutilator off the streets. He more or less blackmails distressed Princess to pose undercover while she does her normal jobs, luring Ramrod to a honey trap which goes badly wrong when she admits to him she set him up and he escapes from the squad car following his arrest … Come on, scumbag! Make your move, and make my day! A sordid action thriller decorated with convincing street scenes and boasting a decent performance by Ms Hubley (one-time spouse of Kurt Russell) with big-faced Hauser making for a suitably vicious villain, crowning his role with a rendition of an appositely nasty song called Neon Slime on the closing credits. Hubley was a terrific actress although she hasn’t done anything in over two decades. She had played the role of ‘Princess’ in The Partridge Family but that’s the only thing this very different environment shares. She was the lead in the 1973 film Lolly-Madonna XXX from a novel by Sue Grafton and had a second lead in Paul Schrader’s film Hardcore. Fans of the great TV series Family might recall her as Willie Lawrence’s girlfriend. She married Russell after they co-starred in Elvis – The Movie. She has a tough part here, required to be doting guilty mother, devoted friend, undercover hooker and good-time girl and all the while vowing revenge for her friend’s horrifying death. That scene where she has to don bridal robes for a guy in a coffin! No wonder this is a cult item but these must be some of the most inept cops ever put on the screen: Swanson is surrounded by dumb dead meat. Nonetheless it’s a flashy if squalid exploitation production, filled with lowlifes and unfortunates, with no turn left unstoned as its pace proceeds with a certain relentless glee. Written by Sandy Howard and Kenneth Peters and Robert Vincent O’Neil with some uncredited additions by director Gary Sherman. Just another happy go lucky day in Vice Squad!
As long as I’m this town there’ll be no more of this. 1865. Lawyer Mitch Baker (Scott Brady) arrives incognito into Mission, a violent, lawless Texas border town to avenge the murder of his secret agent father – shot in the back by gunrunners called Newton’s Raiders who are shipping weapons to Emperor Maximilian I in Mexico which the US want to keep a Republic. Mitch adopts the guise of a gunslinger establishing his credentials by gunning down a few of Newton’s men. With sheriffs being murdered soon after taking office the only force for good is Mr Simmons who admits to impersonating a Reverend. Simmons also has a children’s shelter of half breed orphaned children that neither their Indian or American fathers and mothers want. The oldest is Angelita (Anne Bancroft) who aspires to be a dancer in the local saloon. Angelita is fascinated, then falls in love with Mitch. As no one in town know who Mitch is or why he came the other children imagine him an Archangel, especially as Mitch turns the table on several assassination attempts as he waits for Newton to arrive to exact his revenge. Arriving before Newton is Marshal Evans (Jay C. Flippen) who knew Mitch’s father and tells Mitch his father would be ashamed of what he was doing. He also threatens to imprison Mitch and charge him with murder if he kills one more of Newton’s men. Angelita and Simons are glad to know Mitch’s mission and urge him to let Marshal Evans arrest Newton, but Newton (Jim Davis) rides in with a gang and Mitch is drunkenly gambling away everything he owns in the hope of getting himself killed … Anyone would think I was a professional gunslinger. Written by Steve Fisher, this is a fairly standard revenge western with the unique selling points of having the murder of a secret agent as the catalyst and that it’s inexplicably helmed by veteran directing pioneer Allan Dwan. A lot of the story happens as eavesdropping by gang informer James Allan (Scott Marlowe) outside the Reverend’s window which is a real cheat. A remarkably cheap B, it’s distinguished by one of Bancroft’s performances as a half-Indian and the spectre of the dull Brady (a brother of fellow thesps Lawrence and Edward Tierney) turning from bad-tempered lawyer leering at her until his fifteen minutes of what passes for screen degeneracy after which he comes to his senses when Flippen is killed doing his job. Brady was a regular on TV and in a lot of westerns but perhaps his biggest career mistake (and he made a few) was in turning down the role of TV’s Archie Bunker. He died prematurely in 1985. You destroy us and you destroy those who love and respect you
The worst thing you can do is get excited. Europe 1944. An American Army platoon deployed in the Battle of the Bulge has to contend with the cowardice and incompetence of its own leader Captain Erskine Cooney (Eddie Albert) when they are setting up a strategic artillery observation post. His second in command Lieutenant Joe Costa (Jack Palance) is fully aware of his commander’s shortcomings but Lieutenant Colonel Clyde Bartlett (Lee Marvin) keeps him in charge because he has a political career in mind and plans to win the approval of Clooney’s influential judge father when hostilities cease. When they are sent to a village without backup the human cost is immense and Costa, Sfc. Tolliver (Buddy Ebsen), Pfc. Bernstein (Robert Strauss), Pfc. Ricks (Jim Godwin) and Pvt. Snowden (Richard Jaeckel) are stuck without the promised backup. Lt. Woodruff (William Smithers) is left to break the promise he made before the men were sent to certain death. They take two hostages and Costa sends out the Geneva Convention-citing captain (Peter Van Eyck) out to be killed by his own army while the men take an old NCO Otto (Steven Geray) back to based where Cooney is drinking his head off and threatening Woodruff. Costa struggles to bring dying Ricks to safety amid a deluge of gun and tank fire and decides to exact revenge … The mean one’s a captain – it’s the same in every army. A World War 2 film with a difference, this was adapted by James Poe from the Norman Brooks play The Fragile Fox and was made without either the cooperation or the resources of the US Army. The ritualistic aspect of the conduct of combat is inscribed in the pre-titles sequence when Cooney simply puts down the phonecall from Costa and walks away, intent on not making a decision and knowing the consequences are certain death for his men. This is then repeated on a larger scale when they are pinned in one building surrounded by 8 or 10 German tanks, picked out by snipers and left on their own while Woodruff is unable to intervene, hampered by Bartlett’s intrasigence and refusal to let him take over from Cooney. Palance’s incredibly cadaverous face is ravaged with revenge and hatred and his escalating anger is paralleled with Albert’s descent to a psychotic state when he caresses his woolly slippers and cries out against the father who wants him to be a man. Palance’s final scene is effectively a Christian allegory while the groupthink that has allowed Albert’s survival finally meets a conclusion of decency when they shoot him, each firing a round into the demonic leader after Woodruff does it first. The biggest irony is that Albert had been awarded a medal for valour in WW2. A truly remarkable pair of performances in an extraordinary, schematic depiction of men at war. Quite brilliant. Everyone goes off the deep end sometime
Was you ever bit by a dead bee? Summer 1940 world-weary Harry ‘Steve’ Morgan (Humphrey Bogart) operates a sport-fishing boat, the Queen Conch, in Martinique, a French colony. He makes his living by chartering his boat to tourists and it’s crewed by Eddie (Walter Brennan) who used to be a decent mate but now he’s a pretty useless alcoholic. France has fallen and the island is under the heavy-handed control of pro-German Vichy France and the place is a hotbed of dissent. Harry’s current charter client, Johnson (Walter Sande) owes Harry $825. Johnson insists he hasn’t enough ready money to square his account, but promises to get the funds when the banks open the next day. Back at his hotel home Harry is approached by its owner, Gérard ‘Frenchy’ (Marcel Dalio) who urges Harry to help the Resistance by smuggling some people onto the island. Harry steadfastly refuses, choosing to keep uninvolved in the current political situation. Also at the hotel, Harry first sees Marie ‘Slim’ Browning (Lauren Bacall) a young American wanderer who has recently arrived on the plane from Rio de Janeiro. Seeking to avoid the advances of a drunken Johnson she volunteers a duet with the hotel’s pianist Cricket (Hoagy Carmichael) and his ensemble in the hotel bar. Harry had noticed Slim picking Johnson’s pocket, and follows her to her room directly across the hall from his own. He forces her to hand over the wallet, which is found to contain $1,400 in travellers’ cheques and a plane ticket for early the next morning before the banks open. On returning the wallet to Johnson, Harry demands that he sign the cheques to pay him immediately. Just then a shootout in front of the hotel between police and the Resistance spills over into the bar, and Johnson is killed by a stray bullet. The police take Harry and several others for questioning, seizing Johnson’s wallet, Harry’s passport, and his own money when he proves combative. Back at the hotel, Gérard offers to hire the now effectively penniless Harry to transport Resistance members Paul de Bursac and his wife Hélène (Dolores Moran) from a nearby islet to Martinique. Harry reluctantly accepts. Meanwhile, a sexually-charged romance has been developing between Harry and Slim, who feels Harry is starting to fall for her. Her hopes are shattered when he uses the bulk of the money he earned in transporting the fugitives to buy her a ticket back home to America on the next plane out … You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and … blow. Adapted very loosely from Ernest Hemingway’s 1937 novel of the same name after Hawks bet the novelist he could make a film from his worst book, there’s very little left of it other than the principal characters’ names and Johnson’s personality traits, with the location altered from Cuba to Vichy-controlled Martinique due to political issues. Screenwriter Jules Furthman shortened the initial screenplay, reducing the time span from several months to three days and made changes to Marie at director Howard Hawks’ behest to have his new discovery Bacall resemble Marlene Dietrich’s screen persona (Furthman wrote most of her hits). Censorship meant Harry couldn’t be portrayed as a murderer so it had to be construed as self-defence. William Faulkner then took over the screenplay (the first and only time two Nobel laureates were involved in writing a Hollywood film) which Hawks intended would hit many of the same story beats as Casablanca using Bogart’s Harry as a kind of anti-fascist avatar with Carmichael taking his first credited film role after the piano-playing Dooley Wilson had played in the earlier production. Bacall and the married Bogart famously fell in love on set which led to problems with Hawks but the daily run-throughs ended up taking advantage of their sizzling chemistry and line by line the script was altered to become as sexual as it was comedic resulting in some rare repartee. The result is the fast, funny, thrilling, romantic adventure that remains a quintessential film for all three of them. Remade by Don Siegel as The Gun Runners in 1958, this is a classic. I’m hard to get, Steve. All you have to do is ask me
Aka The Road to Frisco. We’re tougher than any truck ever come off an assembly line. Brothers Joe (George Raft) and Paul Fabrini (Humphrey Bogart) are independent truck drivers who make a meager living transporting goods, mainly fruit from California farms to the market in Los Angeles. Joe convinces Paul to start their own small, one-truck business, staying one step ahead of a loan shark, Farnsworth (Charles Halton), who is trying to repossess their truck. At a diner, Joe is attracted to wisecracking waitress Cassie Hartley (Ann Sheridan). Later, on their way to LA the brothers pick up a hitchhiker; Joe is pleased when it turns out to be Cassie, who quit after her boss tried to get a bit too friendly with her. They park at a diner for a meal and chat with a trucker acquaintance, Harry McNamara(John Litel) who is extremely overworked and tired; later, back on the road, the brothers and Cassie find themselves driving behind McNamara and soon become aware that he must be asleep at the wheel. They put themselves in danger trying to awaken him, but McNamara’s truck goes off the road and explodes in flames. At his home just outside of Los Angeles, Paul is reunited with his patient though worried wife, Pearl (Gale Page) who would rather have Paul settle down in a safer, more regular job. Paul is troubled about his future, too, but will not leave his brother out on a limb as long as he thinks we have a chance in this business. In the city, Joe finds Cassie a place to stay. They talk and begin to establish a relationship. The next morning, from a window overlooking the market, Joe’s good friend trucking business owner and former driver Ed Carlsen (Alan Hale) watches Joe get into a brief fistfight. He calls Joe up to his office and offers him a job but Joe insists on remaining independent. Ed’s wife, Lana Carlsen (Ida Lupino) has wanted Joe for years but he has always rebuffed her advances. Ed gives Joe a tip on a load which results in the brothers earning enough money to finally pay off their loan to Farnsworth. On the return trip, Paul falls asleep at the wheel, causing an accident which costs him his right arm and wrecks the truck. You know, when I was riding that truck, I used to think I’d never get enough of staying home. I’ve got enough all right. When Ed hires Joe as a driver, Lana persuades her husband to make him the traffic manager instead; she starts dropping by the office frequently but Joe continues to spurn her advances. One night, when Lana drives a drunk, unconscious Ed home from a party, she murders him on impulse, by leaving him in the garage with the car motor still idling. When the police investigate, it appears to be an accident. She later gives Joe a half-interest as a partner in the business in a subsequent attempt to attract him. Paul has been bitter over his inability to land a proper job in order to support his wife and plan a family. He returns to work as a dispatcher for Joe. Joe does a fine job managing the business, but when Lana learns he plans to marry Cassie, she becomes so enraged she reveals to him that she killed Ed so that she could have him. She then goes to the police, accusing Joe of forcing her to help commit murder. Joe is tried based on no evidence except the accusation made by Lana … I wonder what I see in you, anyway. You’re crude. You’re uneducated. You’ve never had a pair of pants with a crease in them. And yet, I couldn’t say no to you. Adapted from The Long Haul, the 1938 novel by A.I. Bezzerides who can rightly be called the father of the action film, even if part of the plot is acknowledged to having been borrowed from Bordertown, this noir is one of the best films of its era, a peculiar blend of romance, crime, violence and Warners’ beloved social comment, bristling with the kind of scintillating atmosphere they should have bottled. The adaptation by Jerry Wald and Richard Macaulay sublimates the studio’s realist tendency with its extraordinary dialogue into a kind of romantic melodrama with Lupino’s magnificent mental capitulation in the witness box. The effect of the accidents is beautifully portrayed by an ensemble that is cast to knock-down perfection, with Bogart unusually a lesser persona than Raft who is number one in the fraternity; but the frame-up of Raft is what turns the genre inside out to give the women top billing: between Sheridan’s one-liners and Lupino’s crazy murder plan, they have these guys suckered. Lupino’s unravelling to full tilt crazy is a showstopper. Shot at the Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank and around the Owens Valley by Arthur Edeson, one of the genre’s key cinematographers, this is an exemplary piece of Hollywood history. Directed by Raoul Walsh. Do you believe in love at first sight?
This is the best dirt in America. In 1983, the Korean immigrant Yi family moves from California to their new plot of land in rural Arkansas where father Jacob (Steven Yeun) hopes to grow Korean produce to sell to vendors in Dallas, Korean food for Korean immigrants to the US. Their home is a trailer. One of his first decisions is to decline the services of a water diviner and he digs a well in a spot he finds on his own. He enlists the help of Paul (Will Patton) an eccentric local man and Korean War veteran. While Jacob is optimistic about the life ahead, his wife Monica (Han Ye-ri) is disappointed and worries about their son David’s (Alan Kim) heart condition; he is frequently told not to run due to this. Jacob and Monica work sexing chicks at a local hatchery and argue constantly while David and his elder sister Anne (Noel Kate Cho) read encyclopaedias and eavesdrop. To help watch the children during the day, they arrange for Monica’s mother Soon-ja (Youn Yuh-jung) to move from her home in South Korea. David, who is forced to share a room with her, avoids her because she does not conform to his idea of how a grandmother should be. She smells, uses bad language and seems strange. Still, Soon-ja attempts to adjust to life in this house on wheels and bond with the children. The well that Jacob dug runs dry. Jacob is reluctant to pay for county water, but eventually is forced to do so and has borrowed heavily at the bank. He runs into additional difficulties, such as the vendor in Dallas cancelling their order at the last minute. Even so, he perseveres despite Monica’s vocal desire to return to California. This brings their marriage closer to breaking point. Meanwhile, Soon-ja takes David to plant minari (water celery) seeds by the creek. Anne disapproves of David horsing around with her. Their grandmother tells them how resilient and useful the plant is, and predicts plentiful growth. David finally begins to warm to his grandmother after she teaches him how to play the card game hanafuda, bandages his wounds, and soothes him to sleep, where he regularly wets the bed. Soon-ja also encourages him to do more physical activity, something his parents discourage, but she says that he is stronger than they think. Jacob is increasingly worried about the lack of water or rain and the crops are suffering and he starts to panic in silence. Suddenly Soon-ja suddenly suffers a stroke overnight. She survives with medical treatment, but is left with impaired movement and speech. Jacob, Monica, Anne and David head to Oklahoma City for David’s heart appointment and to meet a buyer to sell Jacob’s produce. Although they learn that David’s heart condition has dramatically improved and Jacob makes a deal to sell vegetables to a Korean grocer, Monica realises that the success of his crops is more important to David than their own family. Following an emotional argument, the two agree to separate. But the incapacitated Soon-ja accidentally sets the barn containing the produce on fire in their absence … Korean people use their heads. Lee Isaac Chung’s quasi-autobiographical drama veers from charming and ironic to tragicomic with the final conflagration the most supreme life lesson taught in the most dramatic of fashions. This is slow but compelling, sentimental but also clear-eyed, the disintegration of a marriage paralleling the desperate efforts to make crops grow on parched earth and the relationship between grandparent and grandchild described in a family literally determined to plough its own furrow on foreign soil. Jacob’s loyalty to his birth family which he clearly financed at the expense of his wife and children, forcing them to go into debt and move to Arkansas, is the poison that festers throughout. The leads are superb, giving performances that are both intelligent and touching and there’s lovely, amusing rapport between David and Soon-ja. Ordinary American life is depicted at the local church where the natives are friendly at the social but Jacob and Monica still feel like outsiders despite their beliefs; while zealous Christian Paul’s impact on Jacob and David’s friendship with Billy (Scott Haze) who greets him with the enquiry Why’s your face so flat?, are a focus for the innate cultural issues that differentiate Koreans from Americans (the Korean superiority complex) which are deftly discussed, dismantled, rearranged and assimilated into the narrative. Seeds are planted for growth and it’s not just a metaphor, it’s a crop that will feed people and pay dividends over the years. Remember what we said when we got married? That we’d go to America and save each other MM#3400
Aka A Cop/Dirty Money. The only feelings mankind has ever inspired in policemen are those of indifference and derision. Following their raid on a bank in a seaside town, four Parisian gangsters flee after a cashier sets off the alarm with only part of the loot and with one of the men, Marc Albouis (Andre Pousse), wounded by the cashier, who Marc then shoots dead. They put Marc in a private clinic and disperse. Their leader, Simon (Richard Crenna), owns a nightclub that is visited regularly by police detective Commissaire Edouard Coleman (Alain Delon) to keep an eye on Simon and pick up information. Coleman also hopes to see the beautiful Cathy (Catherine Deneuve), who is Simon’s mistress but spends occasional afternoons with Coleman in a hotel room. Fearing police will find and question Marc, Simon sends Cathy into the clinic dressed as a nurse to give the semi-comatose Albouis a fatal air embolism after an attempt to take him away alive fails. Simon’s next heist is to steal a large quantity of heroin being transported out of France by a rival gang on the night express from Paris to Lisbon. From a helicopter piloted by Louis Costa (Michael Conrad), he is lowered onto the speeding train in the empty countryside south of Bordeaux, breaks into the courier’s sleeping compartment, neutralises him with chloroform, and is successfully winched up with the drugs. After Albouis’ corpse is identified and knowing the dead Marc was friends with him, Coleman arrests Costa and gets him to confess the names of his accomplices. Coleman goes to the club and questions Simon, who denies he knows Marc or Louis. Simon immediately calls the fourth member of the gang, Paul Weber (Riccardo Cucciolla) a former bank manager, to warn him, but the police arrive before he can flee and Paul shoots himself with Coleman at the door. Simon hides out in a hotel and calls Cathy to pick him up … I wasn’t sure if he would commit suicide. A heist thriller from the redoubtable camera-pen of Jean-Pierre Melville with Delon in the reversed role of cop instead of his usual boulot of robber for the auteur. Delon is Delon; he and Melville had perfected a kind of filming shorthand with Le samourai and here he’s just wearing the good guy’s uniform although the score by Michel Colombier comes into its own at the one poignant moment: when he slaps his informer, a drag queen Gaby (Valerie Wilson) who has unwittingly given him insufficient detail about the proposed train heist. His world-weary laconic attitude is typical, enlivened only by the occasional descent into violence but it’s just face-slapping, it doesn’t ruin the cut of his suit. Deneuve looks stunning but her turn as ministering angel is exactly what you don’t want to encounter in your hospital bed. A dead man can’t arrest anyone, she purrs slinkily at Coleman who isn’t fooled a bit: he’s tapped her phone. The song over the credits is composed by Charles Aznavour and Coleman drives away after the final confrontation with Simon, their fourth encounter in the film. Coleman is upset; things shouldn’t have ended in the way that they have. Melville’s filmmaking is so elegant it’s seamless, like the work of the greatest couturier. The second heist on the train is masterfully executed with its twenty minute running time conducted mostly in silence with only a couple of lines of dialogue and the atmos from the helicopter and the train engine providing the effects. Crenna and Conrad are both so unexpected in this very Meville film and yet utterly at home: tall, graceful men endowed with the power of unleashed threat. Melville preceded the nouvelle vague by two decades but he was streets ahead of them in so many ways and even though his influences are American too he is utterly himself, unmistakably French in his work. There is an expressive simplicity which cannot be overpraised, from the narrow visual palette to the shooting and cutting styles and the costuming. It’s Melville’s final film. Vive Melville. People will do the wrong thing. They always do